His Burden is Light

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

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


“I think we would be shocked if we knew how many pastors have lost their joy—how many of us get up at the beginning of each week and grind it out, if for no other reason than we don’t know what else to do.  For how many of us is ministry no longer an act of worship (p.37)?”

The sixth point Tripp identifies as a sign that a pastor has lost his way is that for him ministry becomes burdensome. It becomes a “have to” and “must do” not a “get to.”  When ministry becomes duty and obligation it siphons joy and passion.  One of many beauties of the gospel is that our service to Christ is from a posture of gratitude and not forced compliance.  Because God in Christ has extended grace to all who believe in the Son, we no longer work for God’s approval and acceptance.   Our efforts emanate from love for God not fear of Him.

Tripp says we would be shocked if we knew how many pastors lost their joy. We shouldn’t be.  Pastors are people.  They get fatigued like others do.  They waver in their commitment like others do.  They lose sight of their purpose like anyone else.  Their passion fluctuates like the rest of us.  Unfortunately many pastors deny this reality or believe these things aren’t allowed to be true of them.  They disregard their finite nature and expect of themselves what is only true of God Himself.  Sometimes pastors lose their joy because they’ve forgotten who and whose they are.

In our culture busyness equals good.  For many one’s self-worth is determined by their productivity. Working hard and long hours is good when it stems from passion and gifting but when work defines a person their identity is crushed under its weight.  Forty to fifty hour work weeks and fast paced, rat race lifestyles clash with how the Bible defines and describes the balance between work and rest.

I found it intriguing that frequently Jesus would say things like “I only do what the Father tells me to do and says what the Father tells me to say.”  Or he would say “It is not my time” “It is not my hour.”  Although Jesus accomplished a lot in a relatively short life, yet he never seemed to live under the pressure of a busy schedule or other people’s schedule.  Everything he did was a result of the Father’s prompting.  We might think that is controlling in the negative sense.  But for Jesus it was freedom.  He didn’t do things he wasn’t supposed to or go places just because people wanted him to.  In his obedience to God  Jesus’ time and energy was used and distributed fairly and balanced.  That is because Jesus’ works were produced from his relationship with the Father.  Some think God is a tyrant, barking orders and making demands that in the end depletes us of life and joy.  It is the exact opposite. God’s love frees us. He frees us from overworking, overcommitting, overpromising, overdoing it.  The love of Christ constrains us.  Can you imagine the amount of pressure lifted knowing that you don’t have to do everything?  That a ministry doesn’t rise and fall on you taking a day off, missing a meeting, or getting sick. When ministry becomes a burden it is because it has become our identity.  Jesus always knew who he was and so any good deeds he performed and activities he engaged were from his identity as a Son and not for his identity.

Obeying God in Christ is abundant life.  It is abundant not because more stuff is crammed into it but because only the right things are experienced at the right time in the appropriate season of life.    Scripture says that the joy of the Lord is our strength.  Simply walking with God and having ongoing intimacy with him is to be our joy and deepest satisfaction.  Ministry should be the place where we experience God’s joy the most.  We don’t do ministry because we have to (works-based) but because we get to (grace-based).  Ministry flows from relationship with Christ.

In Christ our burdens are light.  So experience the freedom of obedience.

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