Is the Grass Really Greener?

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

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


The English language holds within it many different idiomatic expressions. Many expressions like “It’s raining cats and dogs,” “where the rubber meets the road,” and “throw the baby out with the bathwater” are just a few phrases that might scrunch up a non-English-speaking person’s face with confusion. One particular phrase sums up the ninth danger of a pastor losing his way: “The Grass is Greener on the Other Side.”

Tripp notes, “Giving way to fantasies of another life” is a danger of pastoral ministry (Dangerous Calling, page 39). The “goal” or “dream” at the end includes “getting out.” When we allow our minds to wander, dangerous things can happen, especially if we do not voice those fantasies with anyone else. Isolation can lead to destruction. In previous weeks, the Bridgehaven staff has spoken about the signs of a pastor losing his way. Many of these signs include ignoring problems, being blinded by a sinful heart, lacking devotion, seeing ministry as burdensome, etc. Like a snowball, the struggles of ministry (when not shared with someone else) can spiral down a hill very quickly. Eventually a pastor or ministry worker may think that there is no hope. He or she may think, “If I could only ___________, then I would be happy.” This type of thinking includes “the grass is greener” mentality. Instead of focusing on the Lord’s strength, grace, and provision for placing a person in ministry, thoughts may include those of another life. The Israelites often struggled with this type of thinking in the wilderness. Right after the Lord delivered the Israelites from slavery and they crossed the Red Sea, the Israelites became hungry. Instead of focusing on what the Lord had just done in their lives and His presence with them, they began thinking about another life—their previous one. In the desert, they grumbled to Moses and Aaron saying, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death” (Ex. 16:2-3). They had “the grass is greener” thinking.  In their present state, God delivered them from their bondage. They were free in the desert but thought back to the time they had food—a time when they were slaves. What is interesting, though, is that when they were in slavery, they called out to God to deliver them (Ex. 2:23-24).

Ministry often works this way. We pray to the Lord to show us where to be and accept His calling to be there. After time, though, we may think, “Surely you didn’t mean here, Lord.” Ministry often brings with it wilderness experiences. The Lord took the Israelites through the desert to test their hearts. Contentment does not come from “greener grass” (i.e. different situations, professions, etc.); it comes from the Lord. Paul recognized this in his letter to the church at Philippi. Whatever circumstances he faced, he learned it was Christ who would provide strength and be the source of his contentment. Have you ever noticed that sometimes contentment and comfortability do not go hand-in-hand? Paul had circumstances where he had plenty and was well fed. He also had circumstances where he was in need and hungry, living in want. Being hungry and living in want are not comfortable. Paul was still content, though. His circumstances did not dictate his heart. His Savior did. What color is the ministry grass in which you are serving? Let us be thankful for the grass where the Lord has placed us.
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