Sight Magazine – Books: Help for Pastors in Times of Division

Jonathan K. Dodson
The Steadfast Pastor: Leading the Church with Grace in Times of Division
The Good Book Company, USA, 2022
ISBN-13: 978-1784987657

“Frank and even, at times, perhaps confronting (there are certainly times when not everyone will agree with the way he approaches ministry), and filled with practical advice, The Steadfast Pastor honestly addresses some of the key issues that pastors have faced in their daily lives over the past few years. And while it’s primarily aimed at pastors (and focused on the American context), it’s also informative reading for any Christian in terms of their own struggles as well as those faced by leaders.”

There has been a plethora of books written about the COVID-19 pandemic and Christian responses to it, but while American pastor and author Jonathan K Dodson The Steadfast Pastor sits largely among them, it takes a narrower view than most – looking at what biblical leadership looks like during such uncertain times and, yes, as the title reflects, times of division.

Dodson, who is founding pastor of City Life Church in Austin, Texas, and founder of the discipleship website GCdiscipleship.com, looks particularly at Paul’s leadership during the turbulent times of the early church (specifically, the book of II Timothy) to draw some lessons for church leaders today.

Dodson is candid that he is not, in fact, a “steadfast pastor”, pointing out early on that he wavers “a lot”, “from troughs of despair to crests of spiritual joy, habitual sinner to holy full of faith, leader ready to throw in the towel to tender-hearted shepherd, perplexed pastor to confident leader”.



But being a steadfast pastor isn’t about a person’s learning or skills, it’s about God and who He is. “A pastor’s unshakable confidence does not come from his mastery of theology, his experience in counseling, or his faithful spiritual discipline,” he writes. “Our confidence stems from God’s unwavering commitment to his own gospel, that we may preserve, protect, and promote his grace in Christ through the Spirit to sinners.”

Dodson, who also paints a candid and detailed account of his own pastoral ministry and beliefs, as well as the painful times he has experienced, describes what a “steadfast pastor” looks like, including everything from someone who develops “refreshing friendships” to a person who knew the importance of gratitude in prayer; from one who avoids “word fights” and assumes they aren’t always right in conflict, to one who embraces practices such as “listening to the congregation” and what he calls “the pastoral apologetics”.

“Pastoral apologetics combines a reasonable biblical response to a problem with a charitable and seductive spirit,” he explains. “He embodies both the truth and the goodness of the gospel”.

Frank and even, at times, perhaps confrontational (there are certainly times when not everyone will agree with the way he approaches ministry), and filled with practical advice, The Steadfast Pastor honestly addresses some of the key issues that pastors have faced in their daily lives over the past few years. And while it’s primarily aimed at pastors (and focused on the American context), it’s also informative reading for any Christian in terms of their own struggles as well as those faced by leaders.


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