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arch enemy to highest usefulness

Yet another appeal which laziness will make is seen in busy idleness. Puttering is a good word to express it. This is an arch enemy to the minister’s highest usefulness. While attention to details is essential to ministerial success and very largely a minister’s sincerity will be shown in attention to such details, yet beware of puttering. “My imagination,” said Charles Dickens, “would never have served me as it has but for the habit of commonplace, humble, patient, daily, toiling, drudging attention.” What we mean by puttering has been put in another way by Dr. Nehemiah Boynton, who recently declared that “the great danger for most ministers is that the development of the church’s subsidiary activities will transform the pastor’s study into an office.” Then, too, it is important that we should all know exactly how to treat certain foes to regular work who are apt to appear during study hours. The minister should rigidly exclude himself during the morning from all calls except those that represent people in very serious and immediate trouble. To all such the door should always be open. The minister must follow the Biblical injunction to put first things first. “The crime which bankrupts men and states,” as Emerson said, “is job work; declining from your main design to serve a turn here and there.”

Harold Pattison, “The Temptations of the Ministry,” Yale Divinity Quarterly 11:3 (January 1915) : 69-82 (71-72)
71 (hathitrust)

25 April 2022