This is probably the most refreshing blog post I have read this year. On Canada Day (July 1), Paul Tripp submitted an article at The Gospel Coalition site titled, “6 Traits of a Pastor in Awe of God” that just made my day. I hope it will make yours too. Here’s an excerpt from trait #3:
No matter what is or isn’t working in my ministry, no matter what difficulties I am facing, no matter what battles I am fighting, the expansive glory of God gives me reason to get up in the morning and do what I have been gifted and called to do with enthusiasm, courage, and confidence. My joy isn’t handcuffed to circumstances or relationships. My heart isn’t yanked wherever they go. I have reason for joy because I am a chosen child and a conscripted servant of the King of kings and Lord of lords, the great Creator, the Savior, the Sovereign, the Victor, the One who reigns and will reign forever. He is my Father, my Savior, and my Boss. He is ever near and ever faithful. My passion for ministry does not come from how I am being received. It flows out of the reality that I have been received by him. I’m not enthusiastic because people like me, but because he has accepted and sent me. I’m not passionate because ministry is glorious, but because God is eternally and unchangeably glorious. So I preach, teach, counsel, lead, and serve with a gospel passion that inspires and ignites the same in the people around me.
I love his conclusion. Tripp doesn’t offer 10 steps to anything or the next book you need to read. He says, in short, “You’ve forgotten the glory of your Father in Heaven. Go back and remember it. Now. Hurry. Run!” [my paraphrase]
This is really, really important for every man who serves as a pastor. The nature of the job itself almost seems to force a man to become somewhat arrogant. He is expected to lead, to teach, to cast vision, to set an example, to have an answer to tough questions and have a comforting word in crisis or grief. As soon as you have one man being a person others frequently turn to for help, the sin in every man’s heart starts campaigning in Lucifer’s footsteps to exalt one’s self. Paul Tripp confessed that he has been there and at times falls back there again. For me as well, this has been one of the most difficult lessons of my former ministry. Since I would not learn the lesson willingly, God removed me from my beloved ministry, and it hurt. But more importantly, he brought me to a place in life in which He was able to humble me and teach me. (And the haunting thing is that though I don’t want to repeat that kind of pain, which God graciously used to teach me, I keep coming face to face with the same old pride and arrogance creeping up in my soul.)
The main thing God has taught me/is teaching me is the sufficiency of His grace. I think this is a lesson from which there is no graduation. And although “the nature of the job itself almost seems to force a man to become somewhat arrogant”, the reality of God’s grace will not let us remain arrogant–any of us who belong to Him. Grace is a wonderful leveller. But the Gospel is not merely sola gratia, but flows from the eternal truth of soli Deo gloria. Grace will make a pastor humble and gentle; glory will let him rest, teach him joy, mature him in discipline, motivate him to work hard, remind him that none of it depends on him. It’s not about him; it’s about God. Here’s another excerpt from trait #4:
Confidence, that inner sense of well-being and capability, comes from knowing the One I serve. He is my confidence and ability. He will not call me to a task unless he has enabled me to do it. He has more zeal for the health of his church than I ever will. No one has more interest in the use of my gifts than the One who gave them. No one has more zeal for his glory than he does. He is ever-present and ever-willing. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. He is boundless in love and glorious in grace. He does not change; he is faithful forever. His word will not cease to be true. His power to save will never be exhausted. His rule will not run out. He will never be conquered by one greater than himself. I can do what I have been called to do with confidence, not because of who I am, but because he is my Father, and he is glorious in every way.