“The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart” by Harold L. Senkbeil

27 Sep 2020

Reviewed by Tanwin Tanoto

“Pastors care for a soul in the way a doctor cares for a body”  – that’s the central premise of this book.

In a time where a pastor’s roles are often confused with those of a CEO or motivational speaker, Senkbeil helps to remind pastors of the essential calling of the ministry. That calling is to care for souls through preaching and living the Word of God while orienting others in the same direction.

Personally, pastoral care is not my strongest gift. Initially, I was drawn to this book because I wanted to learn and equip myself for ministry. What I got from this book is more than just practical tips and how-tos, but I got an encouragement of what a true pastor’s heart looks like.

Senkbeil has five decades of experience in pastoral ministry and it shows. This book is filled with stories and wisdom that only 50 years of practising the pastor’s heart can bring. This book is also unique in its style. The book reads like having one of those conversations with an older and much wiser person where you become a sponge and soaking everything he says. Some of the topics that Senkbeil covers are: what a pastor is, the care and cure of souls, the ministry of the Word, drawing near to God, mission, and equilibrium in ministry.

One of the ideas that stays with me is the centrality and ever-presence of Christ in pastoral ministry. We do this ministry by God’s grace to extend that same grace to others. “Pastors are agents of the Lord Jesus, stewards working with Him to administer God’s gifts… In fact, this office is bigger than any of us – and all of us put together aren’t worthy to tie the sandals of the One who first blazed the trail ahead and now call us to follow in His steps.”

This is an excellent resource to remind and encourage us what a pastor’s heart looks like. I’d recommend this to anyone who is in the ministry of caring for souls. I find this book is particularly useful for those who are new to pastoral ministry or those who do not have primary gifting in pastoral care. You will be encouraged by this book.

“The best pastors among us are the ones who realise how little they actually know and how much more they have to master concerting the art of the care of souls. Soul care, too, is a mystery. The more it dawns on you, the more there’s left to grasp.” Indeed.

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