Book Review: Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp

5 out of 5 Stars
Author: Paul David Tripp
Publisher: Crossway
Buy Dangerous Calling
Reading Level: Easy

This may be the best book I’ve read all year. It’s one of the few books I constantly had to put down. That may sound weird. Don’t you not put down a book you love? you may be thinking. But so much of what Tripp said hit me in the gut. I found myself constantly catching my breath and then meditating and digesting his words.

The dirty little secret of it all is I’m not even a pastor. This book is geared towards pastors but it’s message is worth hearing for everybody. Those sitting in the pew and working a 9 to 5 will benefit from reading Dangerous Calling because it will help us better understand the unique challenges of our pastors and may also give you a glimpse into your own dark heart. Pastors will benefit from reading it because you need someone to pastor you. You need someone to come alongside of you and encourage you and apply the gospel to your heart. Some of you may be fortunate enough to have that; some may not. Regardless you should read this book.

The third group of people who should absolutely read this (like not an option stop reading my review and purchase it right now. No really right now. I’m waiting) is seminary students. You need this book now to put your training in perspective. You need this book to shine the light of the gospel on the darkest corner of your hearts. Dangerous Calling may save you ministry and family heartbreak--just take the time to read and apply the gospel truths within it.

Tripp starts by sharing his own personal struggle in ministry. For years he battled anger. His wife gently confronted him about his anger and he stubbornly brushed it off. He shares the damage it did to his own life and the possible damage it could have done. He also tells us how God slowly chipped away at his sin. He then says, “God was making the anger that I had denied and protected to be like vomit in my mouth” (p. 20). May God do the same with each of our pet sins.

He shares story after story about pastors who flame out or drop out before the race is even started. He shares stories of moral failures and hidden sins. But within all of this brokenness he’s swift and careful to apply the gospel to the reader and to root the Christian’s identity in Christ--not ministry. Tripp admonishes,

If you are not feeding your soul on the realities of the presence, promises, and provisions of Christ, you will ask the people, situations, and things around you to be the messiah that they can never be. If you are not attaching your identity to the unshakable love of your Savior, you will ask the things in your life to be your Savior, and it will never happen. If you are not requiring yourself to get your deepest sense of well-being vertically, you will shop for it horizontally, and you will always come up empty. If you are not resting in the one true gospel, preaching it to yourself over and over again, you will look to another gospel to meet the needs of your unsettled heart (p. 36)

He also encourages pastors not to see “theology as an end in itself rather” than “a means to an end” (p. 44). He argues preaching is not passing along of information but rather passionately stirring of the heart and call for action. It’s also all these things for the pastor himself. He must be obeying the gospel as he preaches it (pp. 105, 155).

I would encourage elders and pastors to gather together and read Dangerous Calling. I would encourage small groups to read it and think of ways to uniquely minister to our pastors. Use the wisdom Tripp provides to pray more urgently and wisely for our pastors. Again I can’t urge seminarians enough to read this and take his counsel to heart. I wish I would have read this before entering seminary. Don’t say no one ever told you.

A free copy of this book was provided by Crossway. If you plan on purchasing Dangerous Calling, consider supporting Grace for Sinners by purchasing from Amazon.