I just love John Piper and am thankful to be alive during the years of his fruitful ministry. Piper just tells it like it is, because . . . . well . . . . that’s what Jesus did. Here’s a recent article concerning the vanity pitfalls that ministers face, but I believe we all can learn from his words of insight concerning the blunt words of Jesus.
Jesus’ blunt words—“None of your business, follow me”—are sweet to
my ears. They are liberating from the depressing bondage of fatal
comparing. Sometimes when I scan the ads in Christianity Today
(all ten thousand of them), I get discouraged. Not as much as I used to
twenty-five years ago. But still I find this avalanche of ministry
Book after book, conference after
conference, DVD after DVD—telling me how to succeed in ministry. And
all of them quietly delivering the message that I am not making it.
Worship could be better. Preaching could be better. Evangelism could be
better. Pastoral care could be better. Youth ministry could be better.
Missions could be better. And here is what works. Buy this. Go here. Go
there. Do it this way. And adding to the burden—some of these books and
conferences are mine!
So I was refreshed by Jesus’
blunt word to me (and you): “What is that to you? You follow me!” Peter
had just heard a very hard word. You will die—painfully. His first
thought was comparison. What about John? If I have to suffer, will he
have to suffer? If my ministry ends like that, will his end like that?
If I don’t get to live a long life of fruitful ministry, will he get to?
the way we sinners are wired. Compare. Compare. Compare. We crave to
know how we stack up in comparison to others. There is some kind of
high if we can just find someone less effective than we are. Ouch. To
this day, I recall the little note posted by my Resident Assistant in
Elliot Hall my senior year at Wheaton: “To love is to stop comparing.”
What is that to you, Piper? Follow me.
- What is it to you
that David Wells has such a comprehensive grasp of the pervasive
effects of postmodernism? You follow me.
- What is it to you that Voddie Baucham speaks the gospel so powerfully without notes? You follow me.
- What is it to you that Tim Keller sees gospel connections with professional life so clearly? You follow me.
- What is it to you that Mark Driscoll has the language and the folly of pop culture at his fingertips? You follow me.
is it to you that Don Carson reads five hundred books a year and
combines pastoral insight with the scholar’s depth and
comprehensiveness? You follow me.
That word landed on me
with great joy. Jesus will not judge me according to my superiority or
inferiority over anybody. No preacher. No church. No ministry. These
are not the standard. Jesus has a work for me to do (and a
different one for you). It is not what he has given anyone else to do.
There is a grace to do it. Will I trust him for that grace and do what
he has given me to do? That is the question. O the liberty that comes
when Jesus gets tough!
I hope you find encouragement and freedom
today when you hear Jesus say to all your fretting comparisons: “What
is that to you? You follow me!”
Learning to walk in freedom with you,