John Piper, the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, is also a renowned speaker and author. And that’s the problem. Or it might be, he says.
A little over a week ago Mr. Piper announced he’d be taking an eight month break from “public productivity”, which he defined as “No book-writing. No sermon preparation. No preaching. No blogging. No Twitter. No articles. No reports. No papers. And no speaking engagements—with a very few exceptions…”
He hasn’t been caught in adultery or embezzlement or some other ministry-ending scandal. He explained the reason for his break in his usual articulate way, giving us all plenty to apply to our own lives if we choose:
I see several species of pride in my soul that, even though 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. Noël and I are rock solid in our commitment to each other, and there is no whiff of unfaithfulness on either side. But, as I told the elders, “rock solid” is not always an emotionally satisfying metaphor, especially to a woman. A rock is not the best image of a woman’s tender companion.
In other words, the precious garden of my home needs tending. I want to say to Noël that she is precious to me. And I believe that at this point in our 41-year pilgrimage together the best way to say it is by stepping back for a season from virtually all public commitments.
…You could view this as a kind of fasting from public ministry. One of the goals in this kind of fasting is to discern levels of addiction… What will happen in my soul and in my marriage when…there will be no “prideful sipping from the poisonous cup of international fame and notoriety”?