Well-Intentioned Dragons Book Review
The book Well-Intentioned Dragons offers a great deal of insight for anyone wishing to go into the ministry. While every part of the book may not be helpful for someone currently in ministry the book’s greatest strengths lie in the fact that it was able to communicate the pains and hardships of a life devoted to working with people.
The Author, Marshall Shelley gives several wise bits of advice with real-life illustrations from his own experience. The author points out that criticism comes with the territory of being a minister (p.13). The book goes on to make the point that often people will think that finding a need/problem is meeting it. As would seem obvious, this is simply not so. In fact, one could argue that merely finding a problem and not doing anything about it is a bigger problem in and of itself. Oftentimes well-meaning parishioners will bring difficulties or potential needs to the pastor but will then be upset when the pastor does not have time to deal with the matter himself. I found this to be a helpful warning for potential pastors or anyone who works in the parachurch organizational realm. This book may also cause several to honestly evaluate their call to the ministry as the realities of the ministry are not glossed over.
In a general way the book helps the reader to realize that no matter what denomination or geographic area a minister finds himself in, he will have problem people. Perhaps a little more clarity or specificity would have helped to make these instances more meaningful and applicable to the reader. Also, several of the examples given in the book should not have been tolerated, but rather resolved in church discipline. While the pastor should always be longsuffering, making himself a martyr is of little value to anyone. Sin must be confronted, and the pastor is not to be a free punching bag for the congregation.
Coupled with this, I thought a great piece of wisdom that could be gained from this book relates to a new pastorate. A new minister would be wise to deal with expectations and any major problems before he comes or as he comes to the church. Facing problems head on and not allowing them to grow also seemed like a very wise suggestion. Finally, learning from opposition is a great practice to start now. This book is a helpful and short read that will cause those in people-ministry to think and evaluate – and hopefully learn a few things to watch out for.