by John Piper at Desiring God
Hebrews 11 is a divine mandate to read Christian biography. The unmistakable
implication of the chapter is that, if we hear about the faith of our forefathers (and mothers), we will "lay aside every weight and sin" and "run with perseverance the race that is set before us" (12:1). If we asked the author, "How shall we stir one another up to love and good works?" (10:24), his answer would be: "Through encouragement from the living (10:25) and the dead" (chap. 11). Christian biography is the means by which "body life" cuts across the generations.
Why Pastors Specifically Need Christian Biography
This fellowship of the living and the dead is especially crucial for pastors. As leaders in the church we are supposed to have vision for the future. We are supposed to declare prophetically where our church should be going. We are supposed to inspire people with great possibilities.
Not that God can't give vision and direction and inspiration. But he also uses human agents to stir up his people. So the question for us pastors is: Through what human agents does God give us vision and direction and
inspiration? For me, one of the most important answers has been great men and women of faith who, though dead, are yet speaking.
Christian biography, well chosen, combines all sorts of things pastors need but have so little time to pursue. Good biography is history and guards us against chronological snobbery (as C. S. Lewis calls it). It is also theology - the most powerful kind—because it burst forth from the lives of people like us. It is also adventure and suspense, for which we have a natural hunger. It is psychology and personal experience, which deepen our understanding of human nature (especially ourselves). Good biographies of great Christians make for remarkably efficient reading.
Click here to read the whole article.