Tuesday, March 30, 2010

John Piper takes leave of absence

John Piper has recently announced that he is taking an 8 month leave of absence from his ministry.  You can read Justin Taylor's take here.  Sounds like the primary reason is to work on his marriage to his wife Noel.  No doubt, this will draw many reactions.  I resonate with one commentator ("David") on Justin Taylor's blog who wrote:

john piper has impacted my life like no other pastor. so i comment here only to stimulate thinking for the rest of us who are not “john pipers” but who nevertheless and nonetheless are called by the same god to live out our lives before the world in joyful satisfaction in christ. i just wonder about taking 8 months away from the ministry that god has given piper. i look at the life of paul and never see him taking an 8-month break to wrestle with pride in his heart (or whatever the issue). and i don’t see anywhere such an approach is prescriptive in the bible for anyone else. this “tending of the garden” and of the soul should be a daily undertaking that is built upon day after day after day so that you don’t have to withdraw from the world for months or years at a time. jesus withdrew, but not for 8 months. nowhere can i find in the bible anyone called by god, put on mission, given a ministry, blessed with gifts taking 8 months to search his/her soul. but i could be off. and i humbly welcome any feedback. and i don’t minimize the need to search our soul. it is just that this should be a daily disposition and daily discipline of examining our hearts and being under authority and in community that can address issues regularly without letting things build up to a point where you need months and months of hermetic retreat. my main point is just that while i do understand some people’s view that this is a good example, there is also a part of me that says, “wait, not really.” i mean, like piper himself said, 99% of us cannot take 8 months off to just be with our families and search our souls. where does this leave us? hopeless? without a model of how this can and should be done daily without needing an 8-month retret? i know piper is a sinner just like us so i am not condemning him or judging him. and i wish him well. he has poured out his life to serve others like me, so on that level i can certainly see how things might be different for someone in his role. but should things be different? i am just not sure this is the best example to the rest of us even thought many who are posting here are saying that it is. on some level, yes. but perhaps a better example would have been to disclose the struggle and recommit to the daily taking up of the cross of pride, and self, and sins of all variety while staying where god has called you and exercising the gifts god has given you. maybe a week or two or three away, but 8 months? really? i know this is a bit rambling. and again, i love piper and will pray for him during this time. i just wonder what message this sends to the world where pastors in other countries are working under conditions that would make piper’s look like a piece of cake (pesecution, torture, no resources, family pressures, etc.) but who don’t get an 8-month retreat for family building and soul searching. it just seems off to me.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Bible is infallible and all truth but it has never claimed to be exhaustive. Perhaps the saints of old have stepped back to seek God in a special way but it has never been recorded. So not finding a "leave" of absence in scripture does not nullify it. Many profession even pastor/teacher have sabbatical built in to rest and step back from the pace of life. This is not a bad thing. In this frenzied society we all live in this is wise. Actually scripture does talk about the year of Jubilee (yes I know it is 50 yrs) where God commands a rest for the land and the people and a forgiving of debts. Perhaps this is just what Pastor Piper needs. Seriously he could retire now as I am sure he is at least in his sixties and we all could be fed for years to come on what he has already contributed to the Body of Christ with books, articles, teachings (DVDs & CDs & MP3s). I would never judge or sit back and criticize what someone believes God is asking of them unless of course it is sinful or totally out of line with scripture) because one never knows what God may ask of them in the future that may seem odd to others. Think of how Abraham must have felt when God asked him for his son. Sure no one understood that one.