With honesty, wry humor, and a sense of God’s enduring grace, author Douglas Brouwer shares stories from his 40 years as a Presbyterian pastor. From the onset, Brouwer was aware that he didn’t choose this way of life but that it chose him. Rooted in a strong sense of vocation, Brouwer nevertheless, when looking back, wondered “whether there has been any substance to what I did with my life, anything to admire at the end of the day.” In other words, had all his effort been “chasing after wind”?
Brouwer relates stories about his childhood growing up in Grand Rapids, Mich., his painful relationship with his father, and the role the Christian Reformed Church played in his life. Disillusionment, triumphs, joy about “holy bits,” and glimpses of grace melded together for Brouwer in the congregations he served in the United States and Switzerland. Even as he tried to proclaim the gospel boldly, Brouwer lamented his lack of courage to stand up for those whom he considered had no voice. Often taking on a management role in the churches he served, Brouwer wished that he had put more “into living out the gospel” which was what had drawn him to the ministry in the first place. Candidly, he admits, “I told myself that I was following the way of the cross, and what I found was that I was following the way of success as American culture defines it.” Still, he concludes, “My life has been full to overflowing with grace.”
Parishioners and congregants have been known to put their pastors on a pedestal. Brouwer’s memoir is a refreshing reminder that pastors are human beings, sinners saved by grace, as all believers are. (Eerdmans)