Please Pray for Pastor John Piper

Ten minutes ago a friend said something that shocked me: John Piper is taking an eight-month “leave of absence” beginning May 1. Dr. Piper’s sabbatical four years ago was to write What Jesus Demands from the World. Dr. Piper is taking this eight-month leave of absence (he plans to return January 1, 2011) “because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit.”

Dr. Piper writes: “I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry.” I am not going to speculate as to the specifics of these problems. I will merely take Dr. Piper at his word that these problems are there and need to be dealt with.

Further, Dr. Piper writes: “In 30 years, I have never let go of the passion for public productivity. In this leave, I intend to let go of all of it. No book-writing. No sermon preparation or preaching. No blogging. No Twitter. No articles. No reports. No papers. And no speaking engagements,” with the exception of four, three of which are international.

Dr. Piper concludes: “Personally, I view these months as a kind of relaunch of what I hope will be the most humble, happy, fruitful five years of our 35 years at Bethlehem and 46 years of marriage. Would you pray with me to that end? And would you stand by your church with all your might? May God make these eight months the best Bethlehem has ever known. It would be just like God to do the greatest things when I am not there. ‘Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth’ (1 Corinthians 3:7).”

I want us all to notice a few things from Dr. Piper’s letter. Notice Dr. Piper’s determination to kill sin. Pride that “may not [disqualify] me for ministry, grieve[s] me,” Piper writes. Here is a man who is truly passionate for God and the gospel, yet he grieves over his perceived sins to the point that he is taking an eight-month leave of absence and even abstaining from all public appearances—even electronically over the Internet. This faithful preacher of God says, “I’m sorry.” For those of you who have never heard one of Piper’s sermons or watched a video of one of them on YouTube, I urge you to familiarize yourself with this man’s apparent holiness and utter zeal for God—and he says, “I’m sorry”! This amazes me. And humbles me. So much more should I apologize for my sins! Piper is utterly determined to kill his perceived sin so that he can “relaunch” his final five years of ministry at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN.

From Dr. Piper’s sudden announcement of a leave of absence, let us glean some helpful applications:

  • Let us all be determined to kill sin in our lives no matter what the cost.
  • Let us all pray for humility.
  • Let us all be humble.

In conclusion, I ask that you pray for John Piper. I also ask that you pray for your own pastors. I finally ask that you pray for me. I struggle with sin even as John Piper does, if not more. Pride soils everything it touches, and I apologize for those times it has soiled my own ministry. I ask you to join with me in praying that pride will not soil the your pastors’, John Piper’s, and my own ministry.

God bless you all, and may He forgive us our many sins … starting with pride. May we all begin to kill all vestiges of pride in our lives and replace pride with humility.

  1. March 29, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    I apologize for the comment that a visitor had up a few minutes ago. After seeing much of his video’s content, I deleted his comment. I apologize to those of you who saw it; I thought the video would be edifying, but it was actually blasphemous.

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