Knowing the Man–By Seeing His Heart

In his book, Dangerous Calling, Paul Tripp provides an array of questions that help to discover the “true condition” of a man’s heart. So many churches hire men they do not really know. I found these to be helpful self-examination questions for my own heart preparation, as I remember my own great need of God’s grace.

What does knowing the man mean? It means knowing the true condition of his heart (as far as that is possible). What does he really love and what does he despise? What are his hopes, dreams and fears? What are the deep desires that fuel and shape the way he does ministry? What are the anxieties that have the potential to derail or paralyze him? How accurate is his view of himself? Is he open to the confrontation, critique, and encouragement of others? Is he committed to his own sanctification? Is he open about his own temptations, weaknesses, and failures? Is he ready to listen to and defer to the wisdom of others? Does he see pastoral ministry as a community project? Does he have a tender, nurturing heart? Is he warm and hospitable, a shepherd and champion to those who are suffering? What character qualities would his wife and children use to describe him? Does he sit under his own preaching? Is his heart broken and his conscience regularly grieved as he looks at himself in the mirror of the world? How robust, consistent, joyful, and vibrant is his devotional life? Does his ministry to others flow out of the vibrancy of his devotional communion with the Lord? Does he hold himself to high standards, or is he willing to give way to mediocrity? Is he sensitive to the experiences and needs of those who minister alongside of him? Is he one who incarnates the love and grace of the Redeemer? Does he overlook minor offenses? Is he ready and willing to forgive? Is he critical and judgmental? Is the public pastor a different person from the private husband and dad? Does he take care of his physical self? Does he numb himself with too much social media or television? If he said, ‘If only I had _______,’ what would fill the blank? How successful has he been in pastoring the congregation that is his family?” [1]

May we be–and become–men worthy of the calling that we’ve received. God help us…

We need “a living, humble, needy, celebratory, worshipful, meditative communion with Christ… ” He is living and ever-present, and our lives and ministry must be the overflow of a deep, abiding communion with Him that overflows in gratitude and love. We “must be enthralled by, in awe of–in love with–[our] Redeemer, so that everything [we] think, desire, choose, decide, say, and do is propelled by love for Christ and the security of rest in the love of Christ. [We] must be regularly exposed, humbled, assured, and given rest by the grace of [our] Redeemer. [Our] hearts need to be tenderized day after day by [our] communion with Christ so that [we] become tender, loving, patient, forgiving, encouraging, and giving servant leaders. [Our] meditation on Christ–His presence, His promises, and His provisions–must not be overwhelmed by [our] meditations on how to make ministry work.” [2]


[1] Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2012), 61-62.

[2] Ibid, 63.


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