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 NoÃ«l 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? Iâ€™ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, Iâ€™m sorry. Since I donâ€™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.
NoÃ«l 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, â€œrock solidâ€ is not always an emotionally satisfying metaphor, especially to a woman. A rock is not the best image of a womanâ€™s tender companion. In other words, the precious garden of my home needs tending. I want to say to NoÃ«l 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.Many will try to jump to any number of conclusions from Piper’s statement.Â And, to be honest, his statement leaves a lot hanging out there will not much of a detailed explanation. But jumping to conclusions doesn’t do anyone any good. People like John Piper are under a immense amount of pressure.Â Pressure to perform.Â Pressure to accept speaking engagements.Â Pressure to raise money.Â Pressure to grow the ministry.Â Pressure to answer their critics.Â I get the chance to work with many prominent church leaders, and the amount of weight on their shoulders is incredible.Â That’s why when they do fall… they fall hard. At this point, I want to give Piper encouragement for taking this leave now and trying to get things in order.Â That’s a much better solution (even when put under the microscope) than ignoring any problem and having the whole thing blow up. That’s my 2 cents worth.Â John… My prayers are with you and Noel. Todd