Monday, March 29, 2010

John Piper Steps Back From Public Ministry

Pastor John Piper announced to our church on Saturday and Sunday that he has asked for an eight month leave of absence from our elder board. He explained the reason for this extended leave in this way: "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. ...the precious garden of my home needs tending. I want to say to Noël that she is precious to me in a way that, at this point in our 41-year pilgrimage, can be said best by stepping back for a season from virtually all public commitments."

Adrian Warnock hit on just about everything important I wanted to say in his post on this. I will add that I am grateful again for the remarkable transparency Pastor Piper has shown to his congregation. He has been very open about his own weaknesses and what he needs to work on and wrestle with. One blessing in this is that it doesn't leave his church with a lot of unanswered questions about why he's doing this and what it may mean for us. I think the more important blessing, though, is that it gives us the opportunity to learn from his struggles and to take a good look at ourselves to see if we're ignoring pride and character flaws. When someone like Pastor Piper takes a dramatic step like this, it should cause us to ask ourselves if we're taking our sins seriously enough and doing enough to identify them and put them to death.

Will we miss our pastor during these eight months? Yes. A lot. But it is a great gift to have a leader who sets an example like this. There are probably many people in the congregation who need to take a step back in their own lives and examine how they are loving their families. If the author of "Don't Waste Your Life" can say 'my family is more important right now than my public ministry' then the rest of us can feel reassured that it's okay to take the time to care for our families too.

No comments: