Pastors fall. Sometimes quietly, sometimes on public display—pastors fall. As one who has helped pastors and congregations deal with the aftermath of such falls, Paul David Tripp notes that pastoral failure rarely results from a lack of skill or information. Rather, Tripp notes that it is the heart of the leaders that is sick—and that sickness overflows into their ministry.
Tripp wrote Dangerous Calling as a diagnostic book, a text designed to reveal and treat problems of the fallen pastor’s heart. This first half of the book deals with the culture that permeates some churches and seminaries. Tripp describes a mini-civilization that is focused on knowledge of the Gospel, buttressed by casual relationships that fail to probe and nurture the heart of their pastor and his family. As long as “the trains run on time,” most church members and boards are happy to leave well enough alone—content to ignore the warning signs that danger is lurking ahead. The second half of the book identifies the problematic heart—one that has lost the awe of God and sees himself as “above the people” rather that a fellow sinner, saved by unmerited grace. The entire work is interlaced with examples and stories from Tripp’s own pastoral ministry, as well as his work in counseling pastors and churches.
I found Dangerous Calling to be a very useful book. I had to read it carefully, convicted to really examine my own life with each chapter. As a parachurch ministry leader and a pastor, I have heart-wrestled with the issues expressed on the pages of this book. Others who have worked with me and for me have told similar stories. Even though the author tends to repeat himself frequently (and what good parent doesn’t?) I think every pastor could and should benefit from Dangerous Calling. XP’s who care for those under their leadership, as well as Senior Pastors, should find this diagnostic work particularly useful as they minister to souls on the ministry frontlines.