“I need to remember that my weaknesses are not in the way of productive ministry, but my delusions of independent strength are.” (Paul Tripp)
So true. In my twenty years in ministry I’ve seen many pastors and wannabees (young and old) who display sign of giftedness, but demonstrate their unfit for the office of episkope. Perhaps the biggest reason is due to their character, namely the perpetual demonstrations of pride. It’s true that pride comes in many forms, but I’m speaking specifically about being unteachable, untouchable, and having a transcendent view of self.
The fact of the matter is that there is never a day when you don’t demonstrate somehow, someway that you are weak. There is never a day when you don’t reveal that there are still pockets of foolishness in you. In fact, God will use the responsibilities, opportunities, burdens, and temptations of ministry to reveal to you and those who love you how weak you really are. He reveals your weakness to you so that you will continue to seek the help of his grace, and he reveals it to others so that they can be instruments of his grace in your life. Paul didn’t resign his ministry because he became convinced he was the foremost of all sinners. No, you could argue that it is your admission of weakness that protects your ministry from becoming all about human reputation and kingdom building. And it is your weakness that protects you from the dangers of self-righteousness and self-reliance.
It is your delusions of perceived strength and maturity, which you actually lack, that have the potential to derail and ultimately destroy your ministry. This is because when you think you are strong, you think you can live independently of the grace of Jesus and the ministry of others, although you may not know that this is what you’re doing (underline mine, from Dangerous Calling, 206-207).
Unfortunately, those who are unteachable, untouchable, and have a transcendent view of self would fail to discern these God-ordained sanctifying means. Even more tragically, at the end, they may destroy the very character and credibility they try to protect.
Let us take heed. May God help us all, especially, those of us who are called to the office of episkope.