Ryan Kucera’s Review of AUTHENTIC MINISTRY: SERVING FROM THE HEART, by Michael Reeves

Published on March 26, 2024 by Eugene Ho

Union Publishing, 2022 | 122 pages

A Book Review from Books At a Glance

by Ryan Kucera


Summary of Content

Michael Reeves has written a brief, helpful resource for those aspiring to vocational ministry. The book is based on a series of talks he gave to students at Union School of Theology. According to Reeves, the talks were less like theological lectures and more like an encouraging sendoff for students as they departed on various ministry assignments. He says, “I gave [the talks] as a small part of an effort that they might not wear their learning like an impressive cloak to hide shriveled souls” (10). Reeves notes that he offers the material to his readers that they might serve with integrity, resilience, and joy. The book is comprised of nine chapters covering various areas pertaining to the Christian life and ministry with “the simple aim to help you pay attention to yourself and so cultivate the inner fitness necessary for outward service of the church” (10).

Reeves urges us to delight in God, for this is why we were made. As God is uppermost in our affections, “when he is glorious to you, out of a full heart you will want to share him. This is the essence of authentic ministry” (18). Reeves notes the Apostle Paul’s desire to boast only in the cross of Christ (Gal. 6:14) and goes on to say that “the seed of sickness in the Christian life is the failure to boast in the cross. The seed of all health is boasting in the cross” (19). Reeves emphasizes the priority of bold prayer in ministry: “Don’t pray cautious prayers for little things that you can see to yourself. You are coming to a King—large petitions with you bring” (37).

Reeves says we are to relish humility for that is the heart of true Christian integrity (41). There are few things more dangerous in pastoral ministry than pride. As we cultivate humility towards the Lord and one another, the Spirit of God is pleased to move in ways that only He can. Reeves gives examples of saints in Church history who esteemed friendship and urges us to do the same. As years accumulate in ministry, as tasks multiply, the priority of friendship is often neglected. This can be detrimental to personal growth in grace and effectiveness in the ministry. Reeves also calls aspiring ministry leaders to grow through suffering. “Our lives are like a pond,” he says: “When all is calm, we can look quite pure and clear. Then along comes unsettling trouble, and all the mud at the bottom of our souls comes up: we’re exposed for what we really are. God unsettles his saints to expose evil within—so that it might be removed” (72).

Reeves urges his students to love the church, for the church is why the cosmos exists (81). Jesus laid down his life for the bride of Christ, and if we do not serve her, we are unable to grow in Christlikeness (81). Reeves calls his students to be faithful theologians but to take care not to grow cold or cynical or prideful. One of the chief joys of vocational ministry is the ability to delve into the deep doctrines of the faith. We should not take this for granted nor take it lightly. Finally, Reeves closes out the book with a charge to run the race so we can say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7-8). Everything in our lives and in our culture will try to deter us from the race of faith—pressures, anxieties, and temptations abound. Reeves says, “Run the great race of death and glory. Go with the cloud of witnesses. Go after our great forerunner. Go towards joy” (114).

Overall, Reeves reminds us of the dignity and privilege of pastoral ministry. There is no greater calling than to serve Christ’s church, and it should be done with seriousness, humility, and joy. Whether you are years into vocational ministry—or just setting out—Reeves will be a helpful guide for you. 


Ryan Kucera

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Union Publishing, 2022 | 122 pages

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