More Than Knowledge and Skill

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 have heard the tale again and again.  The summary is always the same: ‘We finally came to the realization that we had called (hired) someone we didn’t know.’”-p. 57.

He seemed absolutely tailor made for the church and the search committee decided to go to his present assignment to hear him preach.  After the sermon, which was beautifully taught and well exegeted, the search committee unanimously decided that this was the best man for their church.  He was perfect.  One member said that the pastor reminded him of the departing pastor, when he heard his sermon.  So the committee enthusiastically invited the pastor to come to their church to preach for the congregation, which he did.  And the church loved him.  He had all the skills and knowledge that the church felt was necessary for a good pastor….and this was their mistake.  They left out a more vital part, which they should have required and looked intently into. 

In their honest enthusiasm to find the right man they have rushed in and left a very important part of the search out.  The most important part of the pastor is his heart and his character.  What was going on in his heart?  Was he living and preaching the gospel to himself?  Was he living authentically in his church and his family allowing honest reflection about his value and identity?  Was he even the best man for the job?  Sure, he could teach the Scriptures well, but what was going on in his family?  Was he seeing himself as a sinner saved by grace in need of sanctification?  Or was he “beyond” that? 

It didn’t take long before the cracks began to show, which were sad, but true.  The new pastor would avoid social contact with people and when meetings were over, he headed out as quickly as he could. Even in the grocery store he seemed to avoid church members and sometimes would walk right by them.  When he picked his kids up at youth group he would come into the room and tell his child to hurry up and come on.  Very little banter with other parents and next to none of the engaging conversation with the people he was “shepherding.”  He was great up front, but outside of the pulpit, he came up empty.   And it left his staff and congregation confused and “leaderless.”

Did this disqualify him as a pastor?  Not necessarily, but it did raise some red flags about what was going on in his heart.  As Tripp says, “I’m convinced that the big crisis for the church of Jesus Christ is not that we are easily dissatisfied, but that we are all too easily satisfied.” The primary question is, what qualifies a someone for ministry?  How well do we know the people we are calling to ministry and what are we demanding of them when they heed the call?  We need to know the person and not just their qualifications.  As mentioned before, academia is a good thing and possessing knowledge is positive, but it cannot replace wisdom and authenticity.  We can often bypass the essential character issues in a rush to find the knowledge and qualifications of a potential leader in our churches and our Christian organizations. 

Let’s think long-term and set our leaders up for success, not failure.


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