Over the years many pastors, leaders, and authors who have influenced my life have also become my friends. I marvel at and am humbled by this fact. And while I am always eager to promote these men and draw attention to their writings and teachings, too often these friends are known primarily for their public ministry.
I know from personal experience that these men have much to teach us from their private lives. So on this blog I want to occasionally interview these men, ask them questions to draw out their personal example, and introduce you to a private side of them you possibly have not seen.
Here we go.
Meet Wayne Grudem. Dr. Grudem is smart—B.A. from Harvard, M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Cambridge, smart.
Dr. Grudem is the author of a number of excellent books including Systematic Theology and a simplified systematic theology for guys like me (Bible Doctrine).
He is the cofounder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and coeditor (with John Piper) of one of the most important books I know of: Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
Dr. Grudem is now the Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary, having previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for 20 years.
But you may already know all this.
So who is Wayne Grudem? What does he read for fun? What discourages him? How does he structure his devotional time? What correction from others has most benefited him? What career path would he have chosen if not ministry?
Dr. Grudem was kind enough to entertain my curiosity. I divided the interview to run over the next four days (Tuesday–Friday).
Thanks for your time, Dr. Grudem! Please describe your morning devotions. What time do you wake up in the morning? How much time do you spend reading, meditating, praying, etc.? What are you presently reading?
I usually wake up about 6:00 a.m., but sometimes as late as 7:00 or 7:30 (if I’ve been up late the night before—I need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep or I don’t think as clearly). I get a cup of tea and one of Margaret’s excellent high-protein muffins and open my Bible.
I simply read sequentially through the Bible and then start over at the beginning (I’m currently in 1 Corinthians and Psalms, reading two portions each morning). I will read the Bible for 15 or 20 minutes, underlining some verse, or making some very brief notes. Many times I will wonder about something in the Greek or Hebrew text and check it briefly, but I don’t get involved in extensive exegesis because that is not my purpose at that time. I’m looking for God to teach me directly from his Word, with application to my life.
Usually I just “camp” on a phrase or verse, sometimes writing it out and pondering application to my own life. I also keep a blank notepad beside me because God often brings to my mind things that I need to do and I make a quick note.
Then I will usually pause for five or ten minutes just waiting in the Lord’s presence and thinking about the verse or talking to him about it. After that, I pick up a notebook with different pages for people and things that I am praying for—some pages about various things in my own life, then my wife Margaret, then our children and their families, then my parents and other members of my extended family, and then other friends and people in different organizations such as our church or Phoenix Seminary where I teach.
There’s also a section having to do with our government and concerns of our nation and world. That will take 15 or 20 minutes, and sometimes longer, so the total time may be between 30 and 60 minutes.
At the end of the time I will usually bring before the Lord my “to do” list, and pray about various items on the list, asking the Lord to help me know what to make a top priority today, and asking his blessing on the things that I plan to do. Often at the end I also have another time of maybe two or three minutes or maybe five or ten minutes just resting in the Lord’s presence and waiting on him.
I find in those times of quietness, when I’m not praying about anything in particular but simply resting in the Lord’s presence, that he will bring to mind solutions for problems, or people I need to contact, or things I need to write, or things I should not spend time doing, or any of a number of other things. I also find that over the course of the entire Bible reading and prayer time a deeper sense of peace and rest in the Lord’s presence comes on my heart.
What book(s) are you currently reading in these three categories: (a) for your soul, (b) for pastoral ministry, or (c) for personal enjoyment?
For my soul: Only the Bible at the present time, no other Christian books. But I recently finished your book Worldliness and was challenged and rebuked by it!
For pastoral ministry: I’m not in pastoral ministry, but for professional ministry I’m just finishing Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel. This is an attempt (unpersuasive I think) to show that geography and local types of plants and animals determined why some nations became rich and some did not. It’s all materialistic determinism and, in the end, terribly dehumanizing because it gives no importance to the real factors, human choices and human cultural values, and whether those choices and values were obedient to the truths established by the one true God.
For personal enjoyment: I just finished a new Vince Flynn novel, Extreme Measures. I think I have read all of his books and I enjoyed them a lot (the terrorists are the bad guys and the Americans are the good guys, and the Americans win in the end). But I liked this last one the least because it was so inconclusive at the end. I’ve also enjoyed a number of spy novels by Daniel Silva within the last year (the hero is an Israeli Mossad agent). These are “escape” novels that give my brain a change of pace.
Apart from Scripture, what book do you most frequently re-read and why?
Probably The Hidden Life of Prayer by David MacIntyre, because it encourages my faith to read of Christians in the past who have had such a significant effect on advancing God’s kingdom through their ministries of prayer.
When you finish a book, what system have you developed in order to remember and reference that book in the future?
I underline and write notes in the margin as I go through the book and often write some key thoughts or summary points on the title page as well. Then I shelve it in the right place in my home library!
Join me tomorrow for the second part of my interview with Dr. Grudem.