Martin, Albert N. The Man of God: His Calling and Godly Life. Pastoral Theology, Volume 1. Montville, NJ: Trinity Pulpit Press, 2018.
Summary: Before the main body of the text, there is a proper introduction and a biographical sketch of the author. This is helpful because it provides the backdrop, weight, and credibility to which he approaches the content. In it, we learn of the author’s conversion and ministerial experience. This section helps readers to appreciate the contents of the book.
This work is separated into two major sections. The first section is entitled, “The Call of the Man of God” and consists of 13 chapters. In this section Martin provides a profile of the pastoral office itself. He spends significant time dispelling erroneous callings (ch. 3), but a majority of the section focuses on the biblical qualifications of the man called to the office of elder (chs. 4–11). The final section covers how the man is called to the office (chs. 12–13).
The second section is entitled, “The Life of the Man of God.” This section provides an additional 14 chapters. Here, the man’s character and spiritual life are described and developed. He speaks of the man’s relationship to God (chs. 1–7), his relationship with others (chs. 8–10), his relationship with his own soul and personal disciplines (chs. 11–14).
Weaknesses: One of Martin’s weaknesses is his excessive quotations. While it is certainly encouraging to know that his beliefs are rooted in historic (reformed) Christianity, some of the quotations span pages. At times, the length of the quotes serve as a distraction to the overarching point. The book could have been significantly shorter if the quotations were edited down.
A second weakness is the overlap of content. There were some sections that felt a bit repetitive. I’m sure it was not by choice, since the chapters are a compilation of lectures he gave at his pastoral training institute. A lot of the content could have been consolidated which would have lowered the page count (the book is 400+ pages).
Strengths: First, Martin’s devotional warmth is a major strength of the book. Reading the book stirs the soul with his pastoral experience and counsel. He writes, not as a man filled with mere intellect, but as a seasoned pastor who not only knows pastoral ministry, but as one who has experienced pastoral ministry.
Second, the book’s biographical sketch was a pleasant surprise. Personally, I saw several encouraging aspects that I could relate to in my personal pastoral experience. From his conversion and calling to ministry and even his denominational affiliations were all interesting and encouraging to learn from.
Third, the book covers the pastor’s life and character prior to entering the office. Many pastoral ministry books begin with the assumption that the man is qualified and called. Martin begins the book by laying forth heavy considerations for those seeking to enter into the pastoral office. He provides several practical evaluation questions. More importantly, he encourages the man to consider the role of the local church in his ministry calling (something that does not seem to be of emphasis in many circles).
Fourth, another strength is the clarity of his structure. Each chapter provides clear outlines and numbered points that help keep you on track (even in the midst of long quotations).
Recommendations: Personally, I would first and foremost recommend this book to those considering pastoral ministry. Those interested in pastoral ministry should get a copy of this book, read it, and then discuss it with their pastor(s). Second, those in pastoral ministry should read this book for its warm devotional flavor and encouraging tone to faithfully carry out the duties of the office of pastor. It may serve most useful to young ministers looking for a book written by a seasoned pastor. Pastors should also use this book for pastoral interns or men they are equipping to one day serve as elders. Lastly, the book may be (somewhat) helpful for church members so help understand the weight their pastors carry. I assume it will help provide a biblical appreciation for their pastors and the work God has called them to accomplish.
* Also, Alex Hong as given a more thorough review of the book on the 9Marks website. You can check it out here.