Article by: Bridgehaven Team



“What gives a ministry its motivations, perseverance, humility, joy, tenderness, passion, and grace is the devotional life of the one doing ministry.” (Paul David Tripp in Dangerous Calling, page 35)

Reading this quote, you may want to resound a hearty, “AMEN,” but if I were to ask you, “What is your devotional life like?” what would you say? Spending time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer is not something to just “check off” a list. Unfortunately for many of us, that is what we do. Quiet time? Check! Prayer today? Check! On extremely busy days, it is tempting to cut God’s time before any other time. We often may approach quiet time with the Lord as either a “to-do” list or something “to-do-later” or not at all.

For the last several weeks, we have examined the signs of a pastor or ministry worker losing his or her way. Ministry “lacking devotion” is the third of these signs. Ministry can be very difficult. Look at the life of Jesus. He healed, taught, preached, performed miracles, lived among 12 men, and sought the Lord’s kingdom first in the midst of all of it. What is comforting in Jesus’s ministry is to see that even He, the Son of God, had to withdraw by Himself and spend time with His Heavenly Father. Jesus did not do ministry apart from the work of God the Father in His life. How can we expect to do ministry apart from time with the Lord?

I grew up in Mississippi, so I have not seen many grape vines in my life. One day, though, as I was walking in a botanical garden, I looked up over the archway, and saw that branches intertwined the archway and were covered by grape vines with abundant fruit. John 15:5 came to mind: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me, and I in Him, He will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (italics mine). What does a branch do? Nothing. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself, just like a tree branch cannot bear fruit by itself. It is the vine that brings the life. As a counselor, it is my job to point counselees to the life-giving Source of life: God. True heart change cannot exist without the Holy Spirit. How can I expect to counsel others if I am not in God’s Word? How can I expect to encourage others to pray to the Lord in time of trouble, need, anxieties, depression, joy, or sorrow, if I myself am not praying to the Lord? I cannot give what I do not have. One of the biggest temptations in ministry is to rely on our own strength (or knowledge) instead of the Lord. What about you? Are you nurturing your own walk with God so that you are able to walk alongside others?

Tripp notes well, “When I daily admit how needy I am, daily meditate on the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and daily feed on the restorative wisdom of his Word, I am propelled to share with others the grace that I am daily receiving at the hands of my Savior. There simply is no set of exegetical, homiletical, or leadership skills that can compensate for the absence of this in the life of a pastor [ministry worker]. It is my worship that enables me to lead others to worship” (page 35). Did you notice the “dailies” in that quote? We need God daily, 365 days of the year. Without Him, we can do nothing.


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