Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. By Paul David Tripp. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012.
Every so often a book crosses my desk that God uses to speak loudly into my life. It shakes me, wakes me, rattles me, reminds me, tears me down, and then builds me up. It cuts straight to the chase and gets right to the heart. Dangerous Calling is one of those books.
Paul Tripp has done a tremendous service to the church at large by getting the attention of vocational pastors and opening up the windows of grace and gospel to shine the truth upon our hearts. At times the wise counsel and words of truth, smothered in grace, would sting. At other times, they would seem to be a fresh spring to cool the soul. Some of Tripp’s points I needed to hear as correction. Some I needed to hear as refreshment. All were gut-level, honest application of grace to the heart of the pastor.
Tripp addresses the hidden, unspoken reality that pastors and congregations often relate to one another as if the pastor has somehow arrived and has completed his Christian journey. Tripp glaringly reminds pastors that we are right in the middle of our sanctification just like everyone to whom we are called to minister. He also makes the clear distinction between having theological knowledge and having maturity! Students are often guilty of equating the two. The result is the unspoken thought they we have all the tools, we have all the answers, we have the truth, and so we are going to help all these other people. The truth of the matter is that students and pastors filled with good, sound theology and doctrine are just as broken, weak, and in need of daily grace as the rest of God’s children!!! These are just two of the lessons Tripp highlights in this book.
Tripp’s book is also a great resource. He does not just accurately diagnose, but he also offers guidance and practical steps within each chapter and for each situation. He provides meaningful ways to properly watch over our souls and for others to help us as well. Two points of application that he rightly hammers is that there is no substitute for personal, private meditation and pastors must be part of the community of faith, not just standing above it as teacher.
I firmly believe that many pastors have walked away from the ministry and many have disqualified themselves from the ministry because they were simply unaware of these dangers or the people surrounding them were. If we truly grasp the truth and the implications of the facts that we are in the middle of our sanctification, in need of daily grace, and are IN the church not ABOVE it, many ministries and families will be spared the tragedy of a shipwrecked ministry. Every pastor, elder, and seminary student MUST read and heed this excellent, direct message to our souls!!!!!!!!