Paul Tripp’s forthcoming book Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry will make many people uncomfortable, but it is important. The author describes it as a diagnostic book, that is, one that should lead to healthy introspection in light of Scripture. It is sad, but the pastoral culture is host to a number of pernicious temptations that, when left unchecked, lead to grievous and scandalous sin. What’s worse is that the operative culture tends to discourage talking about the issues. The publisher supplied the following heart-breaking, yet unsurprising information:
In a study of evangelical pastors in 2005 and 2006 by the Francis Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development—77% of pastors felt they did not have a good marriage, 72% said they only studied the Bible to prepare to preach, 30% reported a sexual encounter with a parishioner, and 100% knew a fellow pastor who had left the ministry.
This is sobering information. As pastors shepherd their flocks, they risk failing to tend to their own care. Issues of fear, pride, and shame also often contribute to an environment that can lead to these all-too-common spiritual failures.
Tripp’s book is pointed, insightful, and timely. He calls pastors to be fed by the same gospel of grace they feed to their flock. As simple as the message sounds, it can easily become lost in the week to week activities of pastoral life. Tripp reminds us that pastoral ministry is a dangerous calling. But it is one of great joy, especially as pastors see the Lord’s great transformative work—under-shepherds included.