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John Calvin’s Work Ethic


I picked up Steve Lawson’s little book The Expository Genius of John Calvin late last night and got about half-way through it before falling asleep. Calvin’s life is a monument to God in many ways. One of the things that impresses me about him is his incredible work ethic, driven by his passion for his calling to preach the Word.

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[Calvin’s] drivenness can been in his letter to one Monsieur de Falais in 1546: “Apart from the sermons and the lectures, there is a month gone by in which I have scarce done anything, in such wise I am almost ashamed to live thus useless.” It should be noted that Calvin had preached a mere twenty sermons that month and given only twelve lectures. He was hardly the idle servant he imagined himself to be.

—Steve Lawson, The Expository Genius of John Calvin (Reformation Trust, 2007), 45.

It can hardly be disputed that Calvin drove himself harder than was wise, and his health suffered for it. Yet such was his passion for preaching and teaching the Word that he simply could not do nothing, even when bedridden. Theodore Beza wrote of him, “He had no expression more frequently on his lips than that life would be bitter to him if spent in indolence.” Lawson writes:

Eventually, Calvin did become an invalid, but he had himself carried to church on a stretcher in order to preach.

Ibid., 48.

Think of that the next time you’re tempted to call in sick.

This is a great little book that could easily be read in one or two sittings, and I encourage every pastor to read it. However, this is not just a book for pastors. We all need encouragement and inspiration to be passionate and diligent in our pursuit of God and his Word.



Posted 2007·10·16 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Book & Movie Reviews · Church History · John Calvin · Service · Steve Lawson · The Expository Genius of John Calvin

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