The dangerous calling of pastoral ministry

Over our most recent family vacation I spent some time reviewing a number of books I read earlier this year on pastoral ministry. (I try to make a practice of periodically revisiting those I find to be particularly helpful.)  One of those was Sensing Jesus, by Zack Eswine. You can read about that here. Another was Dangerous Calling, by Paul Tripp. Though Tripp's book is directed specifically to pastors, it is a must-read for any one involved in (or considering) ministry leadership. We have already made it part of the required study for our pastor and church planter training. The beauty of the book is its simple, straightforward focus on the gospel and its practical implications in life and ministry. You could call it gospel-licious. Here are a handful of my favorite quotes. 

You are constantly preaching to yourself some kind of gospel. You preach to yourself an anti-gospel of your own righteousness, power, and wisdom, or you preach to yourself the true gospel of deep spiritual need and sufficient grace. You preach to yourself an anti-gospel of aloneness and inability, or you preach to yourself the true gospel of the presence, provisions, and power of an ever-present Christ. (Loc 228)

Human beings are always assigning to themselves some kind of identity. There are only two places to look. Either you will be getting your identity vertically, from who you are in Christ, or you will be shopping for it horizontally in the situations, experiences, and relationships of your daily life. (Loc 231)

If you aren’t daily admitting to yourself that you are a mess and in daily and rather desperate need for forgiving and transforming grace, and if the evidence around has not caused you to abandon your confidence in your own righteousness, then you are going to give yourself to the work of convincing yourself that you are okay. (Loc 418)
I am more and more convinced that what gives a ministry its motivations, perseverance, humility, joy, tenderness, passion, and grace is the devotional life of the one doing ministry. (Loc 447)

If you are in ministry and you are not reminding yourself again and again of the now-ism of the gospel, that is, the right-here, right-now benefits of the grace of Christ, you will be looking elsewhere to get what can be found only in Jesus. (Loc 462)

If you are not feeding your soul on the realities of the presence, promises, and provisions of Christ, you will ask the people, situations, and things around you to be the messiah that they can never be. (Loc 463)
The gospel declares that there is nothing that could ever be uncovered about you and me that hasn’t already been covered. (Loc 1503)
Theological dexterity is very different from practical holiness. Successful leadership is not the same as a heart for Christ. Growth in influence must not be confused with growth in grace. (Loc 1598)
In the middle of trouble, when you are in the heat of the battle, you will run somewhere for refuge. You will run somewhere for rest, comfort, peace, encouragement, wisdom, healing, and strength. There is only one place to run where true protection, rest, and strength can be found. You and I must learn, in life and ministry, to make the Lord our refuge. (Loc 1661) 
Awe of God should be the reason I do what I do with my thoughts. It should be the reason I desire what I desire. Awe of God should be the reason I treat my wife the way I do and parent my children in the manner I do. It should be the reason I function the way I do at my job or handle my finances the way I do. It should structure the way I think about physical possession and personal position and power. Awe of God should shape and motivate my relationship with my extended family and neighbors. Awe of God should give direction to the way I live as a citizen of the wider community. It should form the way that I think about myself and my expectations of others. Awe of God should lift me out of my darkest moments of discouragement and be the source of my most exuberant celebrations. Awe of God should make me more self-aware and more mournful of my sin while it makes me more patient with and tender toward the weakness of others. It should give me courage I would have no other way and wisdom to know when I am out of my league. Awe of God is meant to rule every domain of my existence. (Loc 1804 )
Awe of God must dominate my ministry, because one of the central missional gifts of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to give people back their awe of God. A human being who is not living in a functional awe of God is a profoundly disadvantaged human being...If you are not living for God, the only alternative is to live for yourself. (Loc 1812) 
If you forget who you are, your ministry will be shaped by a smugness that is more about displaying how great you are than about how glorious the Savior is, the Savior who is still meeting you in your weakness. (Loc 2254) 
Your Lord is not just after the success of your ministry; he is working to dethrone you as well. (Loc 2808 )
I am convinced that what we often call “ministry burnout” (a term I don’t think is particularly helpful) is often the result of pastors’ seeking in their ministry what cannot be found there, and because it can’t be found there they end up weary and discouraged. (Loc 3124)
There have been very few pastors whose ministries have been damaged by poor strategic planning. There are very few pastors whose ministries have been compromised by poor staffing. There are very few pastors who have lost their way in ministry because they didn’t budget well. But there are thousands of pastors who have damaged or destroyed their ministries because they lost sight of what ministry was really about and did not protect themselves against temptation and, sadly, became casualties of the very war that [Jesus] says we should never forget. (Loc 3389)
[The Devil] wants you to begin to question the presence, goodness, faithfulness, and grace of God. This is his most powerful weapon. It has the power to hurt you and your ministry. You see, if you have come to doubt the goodness of God, in your moment of need you won’t run to him, because you tend not to run for help to someone you have come to doubt. And if you have come to question the goodness of God, it makes it very hard to call others to entrust themselves to his goodness. (Loc 3412)
If you and I have been guaranteed a place in eternity with our Savior, then we also have been guaranteed all the grace we need along the way. The promise of future grace always carries with it the promise of present grace. If the end of my story is secure, it means God cannot abandon or lose me along the way. (Loc 3452)