Below are my favorite quotes from Paul David Tripp’s amazing book Dangerous Calling. I can’t say how deeply this book affected me as I read. All ministers, elders and church leaders should spend some time with this book. If I ran a seminary, this would be required reading. Here are some of the quotes I have highlighted in my copy.
No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you more than you do.
There are many pastors who have inserted themselves into a spiritual category that doesn’t exist. … They are content with a devotional life that doesn’t exist or is constantly kidnapped by preparation… They are quick to minister but not very open to being ministered to.
[Story of a leadership team that watched their minister crash and burn] After talking amongst themselves and praying together again, they called him and asked him to come back. It was in this following conversation that these fellow leaders came to know a man they had lived and ministered with but had not known … the pastor lived in this day-by-day ministry community fundamentally unknown and uncared for.
If you aren’t daily admitting to yourself that you are a mess and in daily and rather desperate need for forgiving and transforming grace, and if the evidence around has not caused you to abandon your confidence in your own righteousness, then you are going to give yourself to the work of convincing yourself that you are okay … that you are not the problem … that you don’t really need to change … Rather than casting yourself on the mercy of the one true Savior, you are acting as your own savior…
Is it not possible for seminar students to become experts in a gospel that they are not being exposed and changed by? Is it not dangerous to teach students to be comfortable with the radical content of Scripture while holding it separate from their hearts and lives?
It’s naive to think that pastors are free from sexual temptation, fear of man, envy, greed, pride, anger, doubt of God, bitterness, and idolatry. It is vital to remember that every pastor is in the middle of being reconstructed by God’s grace.
Does it seem right and healthy that in many churches the functional reality is that no one gets less of the ministry of the body of Christ than the pastor does? … If every pastor is, in fact, a man in the middle of his own sanctification, shouldn’t he be receiving the normal range of the essential ministry of the body of Christ that God has ordained for every member of the church to receive? … Is it biblical to tell pastors that they won’t be able to be friends with anyone, that they must live in an isolation that we would say is unhealthy for anyone else?
The blinding ability of sin is so powerful and persuasive that you and I literally need daily intervention … None of us is safe living separated and unknown.
How can we ask them to confess when they are convinced that honest confession would cost them not only respect but also their jobs? … Why would we be surprised that pastors struggle with sin? Why would we think that pastors do not need to be lovingly confronted and rebuked?
For much of my Christian life and a portion of my ministry, I had no idea that my walk with God was a community project.
On Unrealistic Expectations: The biggest is that many churches simply don’t expect their pastor to struggle with sin. But he is not sin-free! … They don’t expect him to get discouraged in the middle of the war for the gospel. … They don’t expect him to be lazy or to settle for mediocrity. They don’t expect that in moments of self-protection he will be tempted to be antisocial and controlling … They don’t expect that in a meeting or in the pulpit, fear of man will keep him from doing or saying the things that God calls him to do and say. They don’t expect to hire a flawed man who is still desperately in need of the very grace that he is called to offer and exegete for others.
My ministry should be functionally motivated by the glory of Christ, that his fame would be known by more and more people, and that together we would all know practically what it means to submit to this lordship.
No one gives grace better than a person who is deeply persuaded that he needs it himself and is being given it in Christ.
There are few things that will reveal to you the full range of your sin, immaturity, weakness, and failure like ministry will. There are few things that will expose your weaknesses to others as consistently as ministry does. There are few endeavors that will put you under public expectancy and scrutiny like ministry does. There are few things that are as personally humbling as ministry is.
You need to preach a gospel that finds its hope not in your understanding and ability but in a God who is grand and glorious in every way and who has invaded your life and ministry by his grace.
It is only when his throne is more important than yours that you will find joy in the hard and humbling task of gospel ministry. And his grace will not relent until our hearts have been fully captured by his glory. Now, that’s good news!
It is very difficult to have the responsibility to preach or teach God’s Word each week and not have this responsibility dominate your mind every time you have the Bible in your hands.
Public ministry is meant to be fueled and propelled by private devotion. When this is absent, you and your ministry changes in ways that are potentially harmful to you and to the people you have been called to serve.
The fact is that many pastors are not known by their leaders, and many pastors don’t really know their leaders. The fact is that in most leadership communities there is simply no time invested in forging a knowledgeable, mutually ministering leadership community. … You should have leadership retreats for building those relationships with personal sharing, confession, and prayer. … You and I must not let the business of the church destroy any hope that the leaders of the church will function as a vibrant spiritual community.
Pastor, your eternal future carries with it the sure promise that you will have all the grace you need to do what you’ve been called to do between the time you came to Christ and the time you will go home to be with him forever.