John Piper has announced that he is taking a leave from May 1 through December 31. No preaching, no book writing, no blogging. Why would he do that?
I asked the elders to consider this leave because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, I love my Lord, my wife, my five children and their families first and foremost; and I love my work of preaching and writing and leading Bethlehem. I hope the Lord gives me at least five more years as the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem.
But on the other hand, 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. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.
I think that is incredible. I know first hand that for many men, their ministry as they perceive it can become an idol. It replaces relationship with family, with friends and even ironically with God. Our drive to serve can quickly become self-serving and sinful. We mistake pride and ambition for calling.
I pray that this will be a time of introspection and rest for Dr. Piper and I likewise hope that it inspires other men to likewise take a long, hard look at their ministry.