A Level Playing Field

Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in Neale Davis | 0 comments

Counselors Reflect on Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp
A Series to Care for the Care Takers of God’s People

 

 

“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 ministry of the body of Christ that God has ordained for every member of the church to receive?” page 69.

 

It seems inconceivable that the church would ever operate with a different set of rules for the pastor.  But sometimes that is exactly what happens.

After all, some may reason, the pastor has been to seminary and is well trained in the Scriptures. He took courses in topics like hermeneutics and he knows how to exegete a passage. He wrote endless papers on things like “justification” and “sanctification.” He knows what the Pentateuch is. He knows how to share his faith and has likely done so more than anyone in the church. He has been to more conferences than anyone in the church. He probably has more verses memorized and knows more of the great hymns. He has heard from God who spoke clearly to him when calling him to ministry.  He actually gets paid to read the Bible. Some in the church may think he doesn’t have to work since “he just goes to church every day.” This thinking is naïve at best and absolutely devastating at worst. In fact, it is downright undermining to the pastor and his family to be placed him in a unique (and inaccurate) category that, in essence, may set him up for potential failure.

The pastor, in reality also gets lonely. He gets tired physically and emotionally. He has days when he doesn’t want to read the Bible like those in his congregation. Just like those in his congregation. He pays bills, stands in line, gets frustrated in traffic, argues with his wife, becomes discouraged sometimes, may get depressed for short or long periods of time. He experiences temptation to lust after wealth, second homes, expensive vacations, other women, pornography, drinking, or any number of other things. Just like those in his congregation. This shouldn’t surprise the people in his church any more than knowing that Christ was tempted similarly.  Hebrews 4:15 tells us

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

In fact, this very normal man known as the pastor, who is tempted in similar ways as the congregation, should actually encourage his flock! He is more like them than not like them, which is part of what qualifies him to lead the church. So how can you care for this man?

First of all, stop treating him differently. He is a sinner saved by grace, also in the process of sanctification.  Just like each member of his congregation. Allow him to be that person. Sure, he is expected to live an exemplary life as the pastor of the church, but he needs the community to keep him on task. Authenticity never happens in isolation.

Paul Tripp offers a useful list to help the pastor remain in a healthy and honest place that will free him to serve without unnecessary hindrances. The church is called to love him well by encouraging him toward these suggestions. These steps will “work to bring pastors out of isolation and into more regular contact with the essential and normal ministries of the body of Christ.” Tripp writes these steps to pastors and those who care for them. In the following weeks we’ll begin to look closely at these steps.

In the meantime, pray for your pastor (and all pastors!) and ask the Lord how your church can help him live safely and authentically as the leader of your church.

Join us as we explore “Dangerous Calling” by Paul David Tripp. 

www.bridgehavencounseling.org/dangerouscalling.

To order a copy of your own of Paul Tripp’s book click on the link below.

535826: Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry By Paul David Tripp / Crossway Books & Bibles

 

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