The saying goes that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As a pastor just entering into pastoral ministry, I found Paul Tripp’s book “A Dangerous Calling” to be a pound of prevention, as well as cure, all rolled into one.
It’s nearly impossible to truly anticipate the kind of pressures and temptations one will face in pastoral ministry when you’ve just left the starting line. Also, like you often see with youth, there can be a kind of naive confidence (arrogance even) when you’re just leaving the dock and sailing out into the ocean of church-work.
So, from my own place in life, “A Dangerous Calling” is a series of large, blinking, neon signs, pointing out areas of danger and disaster that many other pastors have had to discover the hard way. It would be foolish for anyone entering the pastorate (or any professional calling for that matter) to not learn from, and sit under, the wise, collective counsel of those who have been around the block more times than they can count anymore.
I’ve also, however, had the great blessing of reading through this book with a number of other seasoned pastors. The strength and breadth of this book is that – by their own testimony – this same book is also a surgeon’s scalpel, a diagnostic tool, and a lighthouse in the storm, to call those long into their ministries and out in the deeps of the ocean, back to fidelity to their calling as well as encouraging them along the way that they are not alone in their struggles.
The book itself is divided into three main sections:
1. Examining Pastoral Culture – I found this to be the most formative to me as a new pastor about dangers that can strike right from the beginning. The one that comes to mind most, and which was convicting to me, is how theological knowledge does not necessarily dictate one’s level of spiritual maturity.
2. The Danger of Losing you Awe (Forgetting who God is)
3. The Danger of Arrival (Forgetting who You are)
These next two sections lay out some of the major pitfalls and land mines that Paul Tripp has either experienced himself or seen countless times as he listens to and counsels other pastors. This was most helpful to me in thinking about how I can prepare now so as to avoid these very real and present dangers in my future ministry. one thing that came to mind was how helpful it would be for pastors to read through this book with their wives; with them being the closest person to you, it would serve you both well for your wife to know what she should be looking out for in your life and ministry.
The sum is, if you are just thinking about entering into pastoral ministry/seminary or if you’ve been pastoring for the past 30+ years, this book is about you and for you. I would highly recommend “A Dangerous Calling” to anyone in either of these places in life.
* I received a review e-copy of this book from Crossway