Ministering Out of a “Christ-tenderized” Heart

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

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

“A pastor’s ministry is never just shaped by his knowledge, experience, and skill. It is always also shaped by the true condition of his heart. In fact, if his heart is not in the right place, all of the knowledge and skill can actually function to make him dangerous…” (Paul David Tripp, in Dangerous Calling, page 62).

Why do we do the things that we do? Behavior comes from a variety of motivations. For example, if you skip eating a cupcake, you may be motivated by not wanting to gain weight. Maybe you do not like sugar. Maybe you know a better, greater, dessert is coming later in the day. If you work out, motivations may include being healthy, losing weight, stress relief, or to honor God with your body. All behavior, from its root, comes out of the outpourings of the heart (Luke 6:43-45). Motivation is a primary component of why we do the things we do. Focus is another important component. What is the focal point behind why we do what we do? What drives our motivation and focus in ministry?

Tripp sates that ministry is “never just shaped by his knowledge, experience, and skill” (italics mine), but he does not say that knowledge, experience, and skill are not important. When Jethro visited Moses and encouraged him to delegate some of his responsibilities regarding disputes, he did not just tell Moses to pick anyone. He encouraged the selected men to be capable, trustworthy men who feared God and hated dishonest gain (Ex. 18:21). In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he lists many important qualities, including that the person be temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, and able to teach.

Knowledge, experience, and skill are an important part of ministry, but they are not the most important. Ultimately, what is the driving force and motivation behind a person’s knowledge, experience, and skill? Those things must flow out of heart that is connected to Christ. Christ must be the driving force. Tripp notes that ministry experience, skill, and knowledge cannot be “divorced from a living communion with a living and ever-present Christ” (p. 63).

Are you in love with your Redeemer—so much so that everything you think, desire, choose, decide, is propelled by love for Christ? Tripp notes that our hearts must be “tenderized day after day” because of our communion with Christ. Communion with Christ brings forth the fruit of the Spirit. Communion with Christ focuses on Christ—not on how to make “ministry work.” We must constantly re-evaluate the reasons why we do the things we do. Where is our focus, and most importantly, who or what is the object of that focus? Because our hearts are deceitful (Jer. 17:9), we may begin the day with a focus on Christ, but we may deter that focus. Good motivations may turn idolatrous very quickly. Though knowledge, experience, and skill are important parts of ministry, if Christ is left out of it we will spiritually dry up quickly. Burn out will occur. Having our hearts “tenderized” day by day requires that we die to ourselves and live for Someone greater. What about you? Do you need to have your heart “tenderized” by Christ today?


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