Spurgeon: A Soldier’s Perspective

Charles H. Spurgeon was an English Baptist preacher whose sermons and ideas remain influential within the church today, and was widely referred to as the ‘Prince of Preachers’.

Throughout his sermons and literary works, Spurgeon addresses ways in which ministers can address sinfulness and nominalism in one’s surrounding sub-culture. When applied to my ministry as a military leader, these ways take on somewhat new meanings, but the underlying principles remain relevant at the same time. Furthermore, these principles are also applicable to the church as a whole.

First, Spurgeon addresses the role of one’s individuality in portraying an earnest interest in the gospel that one preaches. He states, “Upon this matter of individuality, note first, the necessity of an earnest sense of our individual interest in the gospel which we preach.”[1] As a military leader, it is next to impossible to motivate Soldiers to accomplish a mission if one does not wholeheartedly believe in it. Furthermore, one cannot be an effective leader, especially during combat, without leading from the front and by example.

Second, Spurgeon addresses the importance of standards within the Christian faith by stating the following:

“I suppose you have met, in your pastoral work, with the great evil of questioning fundamental truth. Brethren have always differed on minor points…all were agreed that, whatever Scripture said, should be decisive…, but another form of discussion has now arisen: men question the Scriptures themselves.”[2]

Within the military community, standards are the glue that holds everything together and fosters discipline within the ranks. Once these standards are called into question, discipline erodes and negatively impacts the mission. The same can be said about Christianity and Scripture, in that discipline is lacking where the standard of Scripture is questioned.

Third, Spurgeon addresses the appropriate balance between the amount of work required and the adequate expenditure of force. One must effectively evaluate a particular task, and determine the appropriate amount of work required for the task. As he states:

“No work of any kind is accomplished in this world without a certain expenditure of force, and the force employed differs according to the matter in hand; the sort of power of which we feel the need will be determined by our view of our work; and the amount of power that we shall long for will also very much depend upon our idea of how that work should be done.”[3]

From a pastor’s point-of-view, this concept applies to both physical work within one’s congregation/church and spiritual ‘work’ in combating the evils of the day. This concept is akin to proportionality from a military leader’s point-of-view, which “prohibits the use of any kind or degree of force that exceeds that needed to accomplish the military objective.”[4] In both cases, applying the appropriate amount of force to the work ensures both the effectiveness and efficiency of the work, thus ensuring mission accomplishment.

In conclusion, while the principles discussed above are by no means all encompassing, they were relevant in Spurgeon’s day and remain so today. Whether one is a senior pastor of a large church or a humble layman carrying out the Great Commission, keeping these principles in mind would render one’s ministry more effective and fruitful.

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1. Charles H. Spurgeon, “An All-Round Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students” (presidential address at the Annual Conference of the Pastor’s College, London, 1872-1890), 300, http://www.grace-ebooks.com/library/Charles%20Spurgeon/CHS_An%20All%20Around%20Ministry.PDF (accessed January 22, 2014).

2. Ibid., 301-302.

3. Ibid., 333.

4. Rod Powers, “Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC): The Rules of War,” US Military Careers, http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/wars/a/loac.htm (accessed January 22, 2014).

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