Counselors Reflect on Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp
A Series to Care for the Care Takers of God’s People
“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?” Paul Tripp, Dangerous Calling, p. 69
No, it seems much more akin to disease or disorder than right and healthy. Unfortunately, pastors and ministry leaders are incredibly susceptible to isolation and loneliness. This seems oxymoronic. If the pastor is indeed a member within the body of Christ, why is it so prevalent for leaders to become disconnected from the very conduit through which the blood flows?
First, ministry leaders are frail, fragile, and broken members of the body. Pastors and ministry leaders must constantly be examining their motivation, and rooting out pride. Pride can keep leaders at a distance. We can tend to direct traffic from our ivory towers, and lose a sense of grounding because of our lack of nearness to others. Often this comes in the form of fear, where we are scared to share our personal ugliness with those we are leading. We are terrified that our community will think less of us, or God forbid, see that we too need a Savior. It is vital for leaders to be drinking deeply of the water made available in Jesus. Only from this posture of grateful humility, can we as leaders lavishly dispense grace through ministry.
Another factor detaching pastors from the body of Christ is the idolizing of leaders by the community. We love heroes. We are exposed to the power of story from an early age, and so much of how we learned is geared around modeling those we look up to. No doubt, discipleship is the context in which we grow in Christ-likeness. However, the key to Christian discipleship is following the right messiah. As leaders, we must be abundantly clear that we are following Jesus. Otherwise, we can easily elevate our leaders into a role they cannot fill. Pastors are not messiahs, only Jesus is the Christ. Because pastors are not Christ, they are not transcendent. In fact, they are quite imminent, but frequently ignored because of our idolatry. When we put pastors in the position of the head, we are promoting them to a level above the body, and inadvertently cutting them off from the rich marrowy grace that flows within and throughout the body.
A final catalyst producing the isolation of leaders is the ministry itself. We can become so entranced by the mission that we neglect the Father and the family of the business. This generally originates by succumbing to the tyranny of the urgent, and quickly develops into workholism. It is very easy to become consumed by the relentless need of help within the community. Because Christ has not yet returned to make all things new, we live in a time of perpetual brokenness. If there is a prayerful tension between gathered and sent, leaders will eventually switch gears into relying upon their own strength. Busyness in ministry does not carve out time for redemptive community, which can reinforce the illusion of autonomy.
Pride, a culture of hero-worship, and busyness can crush ministry leaders under the weight of self, but there is great hope. God is working in and through His people by the Spirit. Because Jesus is the head of the body of Christ, we can rest in His sovereignty by remembering His love for us, and submitting to His leadership. We can assemble as His people, loving one another with fervent generosity. And we can work faithfully with wisdom and patience, awaiting His return, knowing that He will right all wrongs.
To read past blog posts on this important series go to www.bridgehavencounseling.org/dangerouscalling.
To order a copy of your own of Paul Tripp’s book click on the link below.
|Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry By Paul David Tripp / Crossway Books & Bibles