Rupert Standring (Vicar of St Peter’s Fulham and Co-Mission Director of Church Strengthening) provides this week’s encouragement, sharing Jim Packer’s wisdom in how to be an effective gospel servant.
Encouragement from the life of Jim Packer (1926–2020)
As I’m sure you will be aware, Jim Packer died at the age of 93 last Friday. There have been many eloquent and moving tributes to him from every corner of the evangelical world and I don’t propose to add to them with this. In any case, I’m not in a position to do so! I heard him speak twice and I’ve read a couple of his books. I once shared a two-hour train journey with him, accompanying him to a conference. This was my big chance – two hours with the great Jim Packer! He slept for the entire journey!
I’m in no position to write about Jim Packer, but I do want to take some encouragement from him as a fellow (albeit prodigiously gifted) gospel servant.
Yes, Jim Packer had a brain the size of a planet and wrote some of the most significant books of evangelical theology of the last 50 years, but he couldn’t do everything, and didn’t try. He had the insight (or perhaps the help) to discern where his gifts lay, and he faithfully and effectively ploughed that furrow and not others.
His life and where he invested his time and energy is a shining example to us as fellow gospel servants to do the same. We should work out, with help if necessary, where our gifts lie and faithfully plough that furrow until we too die – and be content with that.
So often we try – or feel we should try – to do everything. We’re constantly looking over our shoulders as we plough the furrows that others are ploughing and feel discouraged or inadequate. Lockdown has only accentuated that.
Let’s learn from Jim Packer: you don’t need to have the brain the size of a planet to be useful to the Master; you just need the clarity and humility to accept who he has made you to be, with all your strengths and limitations, and to be faithful with those – lockdown or no lockdown!
If you enjoy learning by listening and not just by reading, here’s a song by Andrew Peterson that I think is saying just this: