Jan 30, 2013

Dangerous Calling - A Book Review



Paul David Tripp has written a book that I firmly believe should be in the hands of every pastor in America.  From the first pages of this book, Tripp drew me into the deep, dark world that is my own duplicitous heart.  Very few people outside of ministry understand the danger that exists for pastors and ministers about having a public, ministerial persona and a private, personal persona at home that is actually more of who we are.  To be honest, most everyone struggles to a certain extent with the real person in private and the public person they want everyone to see.  However, for ministers, this duplicity has very drastic effects on both our personal walk with God and our ability to accurately give to others the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tripp's book, Dangerous Calling, is painful to read. There were many times that I wondered to myself how the author had access to so many of the private thoughts and actions that I am embarrassed that anyone would know about.  I believe that I have been much more aware and diligent to avoid this ministerial duplicity recently, but it is not a problem that goes away easily.  Like some, I have learned some hard lessons from seeing very good friends of mine that are no longer in ministry because they fell victim to "doing ministry" as a professional but were not accurately walking with Christ or allowing their lives to be dramatically impacted by the continual truths of the gospel that we are all still in the midst of our own sanctification, that we desperately need to depend on grace and not our skills, that we have a tendency to check out and escape into mindless activities that blind us to the gospel.  Tripp lays the gauntlet down in the first chapter with a powerful discussion of his own personal downfall and why he got there.  The second chapter follows with nine "signs that a pastor has lost his way" that every minister should read.  The rest of the book flows from these premises over and over.

One area of concern that I had is that Tripp seems to be very hard on seminaries and religious education institutions.  As someone who attended a seminary, I see many of his points.  He argues that professors need to be people who model for their students gospel dependency and see the opportunities they have to "pastor" these future pastors.  Instead, many seminaries create and foster a performance-based culture, keep relationships at a surface level, and actually create a perfect environment where this duplicity between the public minister and the private person can incubate.  I know from personal experience because I lived that life as a seminary student in the early 90's.  I don't think ultimately this is a fault of the seminary as much as it is the product of a religious culture that has dominated the church for decades.  Many of these professors that Tripp criticizes are just fostering a Christian culture they grew up in.  However, I do appreciate that Tripp calls seminaries out to reevaluate what they are doing.

Another weakness of the book is that is sometimes seems repetitive on certain key points.  The reader starts a new chapter reading a gut-wrenching story but then reads three points that sound a lot like what the author wrote two chapters ago.  However, I think that is just Tripp's way of reinforcing over and again that there are certain fundamentals that we as ministers need to preach to ourselves every day.

I personally wish I could give a copy of this book to every pastor and minister that I know and make them read and discuss it.  I wish that every young pastor and seminary student in his 20's would read this book very carefully as a warning and decide to implement the author's suggestions.  If so, maybe the landscape of the church 20 years from now would actually be much more gospel-centered because pastors are actually ministering from the gospel instead of just throwing it around like a buzzword.

Get this book if you have been called by God to lead in the church.  It will be painful.  It will be awkward.  But, it will be rewarding.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Crossway book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

1 comments:

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