What if All Pastors Thought this Way?

John Piper announced this past weekend that starting May 1 he will be taking eight months off from his ministry. During this leave, Piper says I “intend to let go of all of it. No book-writing. No sermon preparation or preaching. No blogging. No Twitter. No articles. No reports. No papers. And no speaking engagements.”

Lot’s of pastors take Sabbaticals. In fact, Piper took one just four years ago. But he senses that something is not right and he is choosing to address it so that he can finish well. He clearly notes that there is no blatant act of sin or thought of unfaithfulness to anyone or the ministry, but he goes beyond what I hear from most ministry types.

I asked the elders to consider this leave because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, I love my Lord, my wife, my five children and their families first and foremost; and I love my work of preaching and writing and leading Bethlehem. I hope the Lord gives me at least five more years as the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem.

But on the other hand, I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.

Read the entire announcement. It is quite provocative. I love what he says about his “rock solid” marriage, although it is a bit convicting … OK, a lot convicting!

Not every church or pastor will be able to do this, but every church and pastor should at least recognize the danger that stalks all of us in the ministry. Thanks Dr. Piper for the reality check.

UPDATE 3/31/10:

“Thousands of ministers who have learned from Piper through his books, sermons, and conference talks will now have opportunity to learn from his silence.”

Colin Hansen, ChristianityToday.com


One response to “What if All Pastors Thought this Way?

  • Anne Rogers

    I’d missed this announcement, I’ve recently used the Desiring God website a lot, I’ve been listening to some of his sermons, particularly a series in Acts from almost twenty years ago, but haven’t been following current happenings.

    I’ve been blessed and encouraged by his humbleness in those sermons, acknowledging the importance of marriage and the sacrifices God commands us to take for it, so it’s a big encouragement to see him take this step.

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