Paul Tripp on Ends and Means


Dangerous CallingI decided to re-read Paul David Tripp’s book Dangerous Calling and thought I would share two paragraphs with you. Paul was writing about a particular pastor in a particular place, but I found what he writes challenging enough to pass along.

“The problem was the pastor’s lack of a living, humble, needy, celebratory, worshipful, meditative communion with Christ. It was as if Jesus had left the building. There were all kinds of ministry knowledge and skill, but those seemed divorced from a living communion with a living and ever-present Christ. All this knowledge, skill, and activity seemed to be fueled by something other than love for Christ and a deep, abiding gratitude for the love of Christ. In fact, it was all shockingly impersonal. It was about theological content, exegetical rightness, ecclesiastical commitments, and institutional advancement. It was bout preparing for the next sermon, getting the next meeting agenda straight, and filling the requisite leadership openings. It was about budgets, strategic plans, and ministry partnerships. None of these things are wrong in themselves. Many of them are essential. But they must never be ends in themselves. They must never be the engine that propels the vehicle (emphasis added). They must all be an expression of something deeper, and that something deeper must reside in the heart of the senior pastor. It must ignite and fuel his ministry at every level, and what ignites his ministry must ignite every aspect of his personal life as well.

The pastor must be enthralled by, in awe of – can I say it: in love with – his Redeemer so that everything he thinks, desires, chooses, decides, says, and does is propelled by love for Christ and the security of rest in the love of Christ.”

This challenges me with two thoughts:

First there is the personal challenge to examine my own motivations for being in ministry at my church. I am not on staff, nor am I a pastor, but I am a lay leader. What is my motivation for being involved in leadership? If it is not a result of my love for God, then little good will come from it.

The second thought I have is that if you have a sense that the pastor of your church is not motivated by love for God, then something must be done. There is no benefit to the pastor to allow the charade to continue if the pastor is struggling with his motivation.

Looking back on some of my church experiences, I suspect that I have been in more than one church where the pastor confused ministry ends and means as Paul Tripp describes above. In one case, I did not diagnose this as the root cause at the time, but the symptoms seem to fit the disease. In that situation, the end result was that the pastor would not allow anyone to speak into his blind spots and many people got terribly hurt by the pastor’s behavior.

But, as noted in the first thought above, I have my own flawed motivations to deal with. As a result, my first response should take the form of sadness rather than anger. I am glad that I am currently in a church that will gently, firmly and continously confront me with my need of the Gospel (Tweet This).