Pastor Mark's Introduction
Dr. John Piper recently announced
that he will be taking an eight-month sabbatical from public ministry to invest his full energies in the private ministry of his family. My wife, Grace, and I have spent time reflecting on what we can learn from the Pipers’ example. In particular, we asked ourselves how we can better love and serve one another and our children. My prayer is that other ministry leaders would emulate the Pipers’ honesty by seeking out areas in their own lives and families where God would call them to focus energies and get their priorities in the right order. Many marriages and children will be affected, I believe very positively. Indeed, this act could be the most important message Dr. Piper has ever proclaimed.
In praying for the Pipers, I felt the Holy Spirit burden me to give some public reflection—but not my own reflection. Rather, I felt compelled to ask Grace to write a blog from her heart as to what Dr. Piper’s decision feels like from her perspective as both a pastor’s daughter and a pastor’s wife.
The question I asked Grace to answer was this:
"As the wife of a pastor and the daughter of a pastor, what are your thoughts and feelings about the precedent Dr. Piper’s announcement makes for his family and the families of other ministry leaders who look to him for leadership?"
I was brought to tears and was extremely humbled by the courageous letter that Dr. John Piper wrote to explain that he is taking a sabbatical "because of a growing sense that [his] soul, [his] marriage, [his] family, and [his] ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit."
This is a hard thing for any of us to do, let alone someone whom God has raised up with a public ministry, allowing his life to be exposed before the world. I am so grateful for the example he has set by this action.
Growing up as a pastor’s daughter and now as a pastor’s wife, I can honestly say that pastors rarely do this. The pressure to be all things to all people, and the lies by which the Enemy tries to persuade leaders can cause them to believe that church ministry IS their life. The Bible is clear about what God’s priorities are, but sadly, I have seen so many examples of pastors’ wives who are no longer the first love (after Christ) of their husbands.
I am thankful for the precedent and example that Dr. Piper and Noël are setting because:
- It frees up wives and children to be priorities (1 Tim. 3:4; Eph. 5:28).
- It allows the church and ministry to not be idols (1 Tim. 3:5).
- It can give wives a new freedom to have this honest discussion with their husbands (I have seen many wives silenced or unsure of how to have this conversation when they have genuine concern) (Prov. 19:14).
- It can give children a new freedom to have this honest discussion with their dads (I have seen so many kids of pastors feeling last on the list with the church at the top) (Prov. 17:6).
- It urges us all to examine our priorities and make sure our Jesus, our marriage, and our children are the top three, in that order (1 Tim. 3:1–5).
- It challenges the church to give their pastor the freedom to examine his own life and take a break if needed (Mark 2:27–28).
- It challenges us to not idolize pastors or think of them as sinless, but rather see them as gifted, called men (under immense pressure) who need to be free to repent and be redeemed like the rest of the church members (Heb. 13:18).
- It challenges wives to examine if they have enabled their pastors-husbands to become islands unto themselves (Gen. 2:18; Prov. 31:12).
Thank you, John and Noël Piper, for the courageous and humble example of what it means to BOTH preach the gospel and live it out in your life!
And thank you, sweetheart, for sharing your perspective with others and your life with me.
(As originally posted on The Resurgence