Christians of all kinds need to be ministered to. This is true regardless of their financial status, vocation, nationality, and whether or not they were reared in a Christian household. For that, believers can be thankful for the ministry of the preaching of God’s Word.
However, there is one group of people which is usually deprived of ministry, and thus left spiritually hungry. Which group is this? The answer will surprise many Christians: pastors.
Why is that? For many reasons, as Paul Tripp documents in his brand-new book, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry.
Tripp begins with a horror story of what can happen to many successful pastors: a man does well in ministry, but the persona he projects to his congregation is brazenly at odds with how he is behind closed doors: he is prideful, and often says contemptuous things about those whom God has charged him to minister. He is also increasingly distant toward his family.
Who is this pastor that Paul Tripp is writing about?
By God’s grace, he came to realize that his life and ministry were headed for a wreck, and that he needed to be realistic about his own shortcomings and spiritual needs.
But more than that, Tripp’s main thesis is that pastors also are in need of the very gospel they are called to preach to others. So he seeks to encourage his readers to feed their own souls. Tripp’s thesis:
“As a pastor, you’d better be ready to fight for the gospel, but you’d better also be ready to war for your own soul. You’d better be committed to being honest about the battles that are going on in your own heart. You’d better be prepared to preach the gospel to yourself. You’d better arm yourself for the inner conflict that greets anyone in ministry.”
Furthermore, Tripp admonishes pastors to avoid the many traps that can overtake their ministries: overcoming a seminary mindset (i.e., valuing academics over ministering to people), being blind to one’s own heart issues, avoiding the temptation to succumb to an isolated lifestyle, slouching towards mediocrity, and losing one’s sense of awe.
Dangerous Calling also offers practical points to church governing bodies (sessions/classis/elder boards) to help their pastors get the ministry they so vitally need.
With so many pastors leaving the ministry every year, the publication of Dangerous Calling is a much-needed elixir. I encourage all pastors, seminarians, and elders to read it very carefully.
Bottom line: Pastors, get this book. Put it at the top of your list, and the very day it comes in the mail start reading it.
Trust me: you’ll be glad you did.