Signs of Losing Our Way

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

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

“How is the gospel of Jesus Christ forming and transforming the heart of this pastor and his local ministry culture?” (Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling, page 30).

In this blog series on Paul David Tripp’s book Dangerous Calling we are exploring the world of the pastor, associate pastor and ministry worker.  It is a world that is pregnant with excitement and extraordinary thrills as one engages with people in the most significant arena of their existence, their relationship with God.   But it is engaging in a battle.  This is a culture that requires due diligence to be cautious and aware because it is also fraught with danger and subtle pitfalls.   We have explored the first chapter of Tripp’s book by investigating how important it is to base one’s identity, not on a role or title, but upon one’s true identity in Christ.  Any other identity sets one up for a fragile existence in a livliehood that carries potential for great seismic intensity.  A wrong identity guarantees utter disaster and lack of preparedness when the ground begins to shake.  And it will shake.

We now turn to chapter two of Dangerous Calling where we learn how to identify the cracks upon the surface.   These cracks serve as important cautionary indicators that alert us and warn us to pay closer attention to the blinking lights on our dashboard.  

There is often dysfunction in the pastoral and Christian worker culture.  Perhaps it is more accurate to say most often there is dysfunction, and it can be damaging and very sad.  That is why Paul Trip asks the question,

“How is the gospel of Jesus Christ forming and transforming the heart of this pastor and his local ministry culture?”

Often this culture has evolved into something that is less than healthy for the Christian worker.  I have a friend who was a pastor of a thriving church in the Midwest.  Mike was more than qualified for the role of pastor and carried credentials that said as much.  He had been in the ministry for close to twenty years.  He had seen tremendous success and loved the thought of being a pastor.  But the culture he stepped into was not entirely healthy.  There were definite issues in Mike’s character that he was culpable for and could own.  His pride sometimes got in his way.  His busy schedule often interfered with his home life and his connection with his wife.  His lack of healthy boundries in his thought life also contributed to his conflict.  But the environment he pastored in created a rich domain for additional unhealthy directions.

First of all, he had a contentious relationship with his elder board.  He carried great weight, but a prideful heart kept him from being honest with his board when he was personally experiencing battles.  His struggles were often kept internally.  The contention in turn often led to occasional self-pity when the board pushed back on his ideas.  This turned to further isolation.  Unfortunately, Mike also neglected his own personal times with the Lord and it wasn’t long until he was running on fumes, spiritually, emotionally, and relationally.

Incredibly, the board unwittingly allowed these issues to fly under the radar.  As Tripp says, the shocking reality is that many pastors in their day-to-day ministry communities are fundamentally unknown and uncared for.   Rarely, if ever, is it malicious on anyone’s part, but the fact that it can happen at all is cause for alarm and change.

Each story is unique, but each story carries with it similar issues for the pastor or Christian worker.  There are signs that we can watch for that help us identify where and when we might lose our way.  In the next few weeks we will look at each of these signs and offer hope and encouragement to those who might be able to identify with these signs.  Our blog series will also offer encouragement to those who may not be struggling in these areas but who must remember to remain vigilant in their own personal journey.  As we walk through these signs please feel free to pass this info on to those you think would benefit from it.  We long to serve you by serving as a lighthouse.  We hope to help you change your ministry culture.  Your future may depend on it.

Click on the link below to purchase your own copy of Dangerous Calling and join us as we explore this important topic.

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