The biography that probably impacted me the most was the two-volume biography on Martyn-Lloyd Jones by Iain Murray, because he gave a lifetime to the preaching and teaching of the Word of God and sound doctrine. He was a bit of a maverick and was also a warrior. He was a fighter for the truth. I read it many years ago, but it had a really strong impact on my life.
There are many others, such as William Tyndale’s biography by David Daniell in the Yale series. I read it twice. It’s a cumbersome read, but there’s something about these men that makes you feel small, inadequate, and insignificant. Some of the most humbling experiences I have are to read these biographies. I feel small and say to myself, “How did I ever get to be serving the Lord the way I’m serving the Lord when I can’t even touch the hem of these guys’ garments?”
I think about the biography of William Carey by his nephew Pearce Carey and the ministry that he went through in India translating the Bible, and all of his work burned up in a fire. Those things are powerful. I remember the story of John Paton from when I was very young in high school, who was a missionary to the Hebrides. Shortly after he and his wife arrived there, his wife died, and he slept on the grave to keep the natives from digging her up and eating her body. Yet, he stayed there for years and planted churches. I need all of that I can get.
I’m reading a new biography, The Pastor of Kilsyth, which is a new Banner of Truth biography that is so heartwarming. It’s about a pastor who served in a country church for seventy years in obscurity, but whose life is a treasure. We need those because there aren’t a lot of heroes in this culture that we can look up to, and sometimes you have to look back to find those kinds of people.