The Study of Pastors

A number of pastors and church leaders on social media seem to delight in offering special video sessions- some live, some recorded- from their homes. The camera has been set up in their study, carefully showcasing their godly theological tomes and heavy Bible commentaries. What wise and knowledgeable men these must be. Some have invested in professional-looking cameras and TV-style microphones on metal stands, as well as additional monitors and screens, turning their venerable studies into veritable studios. Church members and adherents may now view these great Solomons dispensing their wisdom and hi-tech homilies. I suspect that some of these brothers are enjoying the experience. 


So like aspirational housewives flicking through glossy home décor magazines, or nosey parkers peering into well-lit rooms through windows with undrawn curtains, I have watched some of these videos with interest. Not for the platitudes being piped through my laptop, though some of what’s said is quite helpful. Rather, I’m curious to know what other pastors have in their studies.


Before I continue, let me lighten the mood with an anecdote. Some years ago, a colleague was given a post teaching history at another school in a very rural area. One lunch duty, she saw a gaggle of boys in a corner, drooling over a magazine:

“Phwoar, look at that beauty!”

“I’d like to ride that!”

She marched over and began to lecture them on showing more respect for women, demanding the offending publication be handed over immediately. The puzzled teenage boys duly submitted their copy of Tractor Magazine, which my embarrassed friend, more used to urban pupils, coyly returned. These lads, hoping to take over the family farms, were already keen as mustard to buy and get using heavy farm machinery.


Where was I? Ah yes. Like a farm hand admiring others’ tractors, so I take a keen interest in other men’s studies. Which commentaries does he use? Which biographies does he recommend? Which books are actually used and which are just for display, impressing the naïve visitor? (See Jack Crow’s previous post for an amusing take on this). On more practical terms, how does he arrange his volumes and how does he manage overspill? Until last week, some of my shelves were three-books-deep. Perhaps you can tell a lot about a man, much more pastor, from his study. As well as books, I have in mine pictures, models, artwork, busts, geological specimens and more besides. As the Lord said in Matthew 13:

“Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”

I may not upload videos of myself sitting in my study, but I take as much delight in it as the next man. It’s an office, a library, a refuge, a shrine. Still, this talk of studies and offices is a Western indulgence. What of those pastors whose cramped homes and lively children have nowhere to retire?  What of those who have nowhere to live? What of those in North Korean concentration camps, eating roots and licking dew? Those who work the vineyard with the poorest tools and most trying circumstances will surely receive greater commendation from the Master than we who wile away the hours among the generously laden book shelves in our comfortable leather chairs.


For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad 2 Corinthians 5:10

“I know your works, your labour, your patience.” Revelation 2:2


Fifth image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay