It seems that I often get excited about reading books. Then they arrive and they sit on the table for a week, two, and sometimes even three. Then, one day, I pick up the book and it's the right time to read it. It's amazing to me how God keeps doing this in my life. Orchestrating these little, minute decisions and pieces in the puzzle of my days.
This last weekend I picked up a book that opened my eyes and my heart a lot. There was a hole that was filled by the Lord as I read it. Compassion and sympathy filled a hole where hurt has been residing for several years. My heart was encouraged by where the Lord has my husband and I now, by what he's been doing in my husband's heart and mind since he began seminary last August. From what I just said, you might be surprised what the book is that I'm finishing up.
It's Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp. It's a new book published by Crossway. The title describes how dangerous the calling of a pastor can be--the dangers pastors face every single day before they become pastors and then, while they are pastors.
The first section of the book talks about the pastoral culture. This is the section that healed the hole in my heart. We had a very heart hurting experience with a pastor a few years ago. My story could have fit within the pages of these books and the traps that some pastors fall into. My heart began to see that I wasn't alone in my hurt. I recognized the sins of man and traps that pastors, just like anyone else can fall into. When we took our concerns to the pastor all those years ago, he scorned us and blogged about it--mocking us. Now, I grieve for this pastor and will begin to pray for him.
In this section, I also saw myself and my husband. He's on this road through seminary. He's praying and considering whether God has for him to become a pastor. The dangers of being a pastor begin in seminary. I am so thankful that my husband is not just going to seminary and working. We are involved in ministry. He is being mentored by our pastor. He is in relationships with the other men in our church. We host a small group in our home that is led by one of the elders in our church. We accompany the music. My husband plays guitar and I sing. I realized how important all of this is. My husband has also been telling me how important me and the kids are to him and that he can't neglect us during this time. He's right. I'm the kind of wife that just lets go. I tell him to do what he needs to do--for his job for his school. I'll take the back seat. I don't want to be that clingy wife. But, he's right. This book showed me that in story after story of marriages falling apart and pastors falling apart because of it. I need to make my marriage a priority and ask for time from my husband when I need it. I was so blessed last week when he did just that. My mother in law took care of the kids while I went and got my hair cut and went shopping for some new clothes. That night my husband wanted to see them. His part? He encouraged me to do this and made clear to me that it was a priority. He is a good man and I am thankful that he loves me well. He's not perfect and sins just like I do, but I love him too. We've been married almost 12 years and have come a long way. Twelve years ago, we thought we'd soon be on this seminary road. We weren't. It took almost twelve years to get here. I am thankful it took that long. We needed it. This book showed me how much we needed it.
The second part of the book is about forgetting who God is and losing the awe of God. Every week I hear from our pastor his awe of God and his humility in sitting under his own teaching. This is one of the things I most want our children to grasp--an awe of God--who He is, what He's done, what He's doing... I need to cultivate an awe of God in me and my kids and focusing on his glory and not my own pride or what I think I know.
The third part of the book is about self-glory and the dangers of falling into this trap. Even though I am not a pastor and will never be one, this section has chastened me. Where do I fall into this trap? I know. I know where it happens and now I need to remember Tripp's words and God's Word. I know my heart, though God knows it better. I know He knew I needed to read these words. I am thankful that I can receive them. Now, I need to live them out.
This book encouraged me deeply in my heart. I feel as if I understand what Chris and I are embarking on better now and where we are. I have been warned of the dangers lurking ahead and I am going to be on my guard. Hurts are healing. Prayers in my heart are coming together. I am considering how we can continue to encourage and support our pastor, elders, and their families. This is vitally important to the health of a church. The pastor and elders need to be known by their congregation. Known as friends, not put above on a pedestal. They are a part of the church community. They are not to be neglected, nor singled out.
It only took a day or two for the attacks to set in. Life's cares, the need to replace one of our vehicles, homeschooling demands, my husband's school work, juggling a brand-new shift to my husband's gluten-free life... Life is complicated and Satan's on the offensive. Writing this post has helped. It has reminded me of what God wants me to focus on and keep on the forefront of my mind. I hope you'll consider reading this book and if you do, I hope it encourages you as it has me. I think this book is important for seminary students and their wives, pastors, and church members. We need to pray for our pastors--that they, like us, would be drawn to the Lord, that they would be encouraged and strengthened, that they would remain humble and not be drawn into the traps of the culture they work in, that they would be in relationships of accountability, that their families would be marked by love and grace...
Please note that I did receive a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway publishing for review and I am very thankful for this.