In my pursuit of more joy this year, I have begun reading Dangerous Calling, by Paul David Tripp. From its very first pages, the book cuts like a knife–in a good way. By God’s grace, as I read this I am reflecting on where I was, not where I am. So while this a book every pastor should be required reading for every to read, I doubt a pastor can really appreciate what is written until they are about 5-6 years into full-time-ministry–just enough time to come face to face with the reality of their weakness. Perhaps I am speaking only for myself, but I believe that it takes some time for the pride-filled idealism to wear off (at least a little). In other words, it takes several years for the pastor to start listening to his own preaching and come face to face with his idolatry. This is also just about the time the pastor has a breakdown, his marriage implodes, his family falls into chaos, and/or he decides to get out of ministry all together and drive a bread truck. Sadly, sometimes those all happen at the same time.
Though Tripp’s book is written by a pastor who often ministers to pastors, it is better described as a book written by a fellow sinner to sinners. Below is a quote offering a series of questions about where one finds their identity, meaning, hope, etc. These are questions that everyone, pastor or not, should ask themselves:
“The absence of what causes us to want to give up and quite? The pursuit of what leads us to feeling overburdened or overwhelmed? The fear of what makes us tentative and timid rather than courageous and hopeful? The craving for what makes us burn the candle at both ends until we have little left? The “need” for what robs ministry of its beauty and joy? The desire for what sets up tensions between ministry and family?” (pg. 102)