It was announced yesterday that from May 1 to December 31 John Piper will be taking a step back from his ministry for a prolonged period to refocus his priorities. I respect and admire the humility, honesty, and commitment this represents. No one, not even Piper, is indispensable to God’s mission. But every husband is irreplaceable to his wife. This was also well explained in the second half of yesterday’s sermon, the video of which is below. I recommend you watch the whole video as this is a vintage Piper sermon at the beginning, and as he gets personal, he sets us a commendable example.
Please pray for John and Noel. Also, please pray for other leaders, both in your local church and on a public stage.
Here is an extract of what Piper has said about this in a blog post:
I asked the elders to consider this leave because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, I love my Lord, my wife, my five children and their families first and foremost; and I love my work of preaching and writing and leading Bethlehem. I hope the Lord gives me at least five more years as the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem.
But on the other hand, 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. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.
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 in a way that, at this point in our 41-year pilgrimage, can be said best by stepping back for a season from virtually all public commitments.