Last evening I posted a link to the full text of Pastor John Piper’s announcement concerning his leave of absence from Bethlehem Baptist Church.
Today, as I thought about this turn of events and the heart of my brother and co-laborer in the gospel, I felt compelled to post a first-ever comment on the Desiring God blog addressed directly to Pastor John.
Here is what I wrote:
My dear brother, as a fellow pastor laboring for my flock’s joy in God, I am sobered by your statement. Thank you for the courage, honesty, humility, and integrity to do the hard thing, but quite obviously the right thing. Who can argue successfully that responding to the Spirit’s reality check, as you put it, and taking seriously the priority of your family, especially your marriage, over your ministry, is somehow misguided and unnecessary. No man’s ministry matters so greatly, even as one as broad and valued as yours by God’s grace, that he should sacrifice the vitality of his marriage for it. To fail to live with your bride in an understanding way, honoring her as a fellow heir of the grace of life as tender of the precious garden of your home would result in hindered prayers leaving all for naught in God’s work anyway (1 Pet. 3:7). So Godspeed to you in this sacred season of redirection in ultimate things. I promise to pray for you as you have asked and I will do it daily. I understand your apology to your flock but assure you owe me no apology. It is I who need to ask your forgiveness for failing to pray more earnestly and regularly for you and your protection from the several species of pride that hunt a man so wonderfully used by God in my life and so many others others. He who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall (1 Cor. 10:12). May God have mercy on us all who put our hands to the gospel plow that after preaching to others we should not be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27). I look forward to your restoration to the pulpit according to God’s will and in His time. I love you.
Will you join me in praying for this man, his marriage/family, and ultimate return to his pastoral post? And please, please pray more vigorously than ever for me that I not succumb to the several species of pride and a hundred and one other threats to my fitness for the work at OGC.
After this shocking development in the life and ministry of one I admire so much and desire to emulate, I feel more vulnerable than ever and in need of so much in the way of grace, power, and protection. First Thessalonians 5:25 has never seemed to me a more pertinent and absolutely necessary request.
You and Nancy are both in my prayers…I make mention of you always. You know I’m not a fan of emotions but the other night I was thinking about how much I love OGC and you and Nancy and I almost..*almost* teared up. Big deal for me!
Having never been married I don’t know what it’s like to lead a wife, let alone counseling, teaching, preaching, preparing, praying and the myriad other things that require (or demand) your time.
I’m grateful for you and Nancy more than even I can comprehend.
Thanks so much, sir. That means the world to us.