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Paul Tripp on Leaders Who Wont Flame Out – The Gospel Coalition

The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.

Collin Hansen: A number of years ago, I grew distressed with a number of friends and colleagues who had left the ministry and made controversy and scandal. I tried to learn what had gone wrong and how to keep it from repeating. From that study, came several books devoted to helping pastors endure, especially as they learn from historical and present day mentors who have fought the good fight.

I’m grateful for Paul Tripp’s latest contribution to this cause with his new book, Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church, published by Crossway. This is one of the most bracing, but also balanced books you’ll find on church leadership and the particular challenges of our day. Now, Paul’s written specifically for pastors, but this book broadens the lens to consider the whole leadership culture of a church because he believes we have major problems. He writes this: “How many times are we going to see the same sad story of the demise of a ministry leader and the destruction of the leadership community that surrounded him before we recommit ourselves to God’s values and to our ambassadorial calling. And as we recommit, cry out that he would in love rescue us from us.”

Paul helps church leaders see that when Jesus calls us to ministry, he calls us to suffer. Paul warns us to expect dangerous adulation and harsh criticism in this ministry. Now, Paul points us to Jesus because the unpredictable and uncomfortable world of church leadership is not a safe place to look for identity and inner security. Paul Tripp joins me on Gospelbound to discuss our leadership crisis in the church and how we can fight against it in the power of God’s grace. Paul, thank you for joining me on Gospelbound.

Paul Tripp: Hey Collin. It’s great to be with you.

Collin Hansen: Now, Paul, when did you realize that you needed to write this book?

Paul Tripp: Well, when I wrote Dangerous Calling, I had a sense that my life would change, that because of that book, I would be the person who would be called when there were pastoral leadership difficulties when a pastor was in spiritual or moral trouble and that actually did happen. One of the ironies of Dangerous Calling is the names of endorsement on the back of the book.

Collin Hansen: Yeah. Yeah.

Paul Tripp: Sad stories on that cover argued for the need for another book. And after hearing story after story, after concluding that there’s a way in which I would be a sad man the rest of my life because I would mourn the state of leadership, I thought I need to speak into this. Because what became very clear to me was it wasn’t just the failing or falling of a particular leader, it was the dysfunction of the leadership community around him that was part of that sad narrative. I thought Dangerous Calling needs a follow-up that speaks into the spiritual health of the leadership community that surrounds a pastor.

Collin Hansen: Paul, are you seeing a more generic problem with church leadership, or is it concentrated among certain demographics? Is there a way to segment out different levels of risk. For example, just from my own experience, Paul, if you are a Gen X pastor who planted a church that grew in the early to mid-2000s and then began teaching and writing more broadly, you probably aren’t in ministry any longer or at least not in the same church. That’s my experience.

Paul Tripp: I think that’s true. I think there’s something going on in the combination of the aggressiveness of our church planting, the rapidity with which we disciple leaders, our love of the megachurch, our obsession with broad knowledge, the independent nature of the function of those churches that all come together to be part of this problem we’re talking about. I’m an ordained Presbyterian minister. I believe in denominationalism. I believe in the watchful eye of a larger community. I believe in a court of higher order. I think those are all wonderful protections and many of these ministries don’t have those larger protections.

Collin Hansen: Right.

Paul Tripp: If you take some of the well-known church planting groups, they from the get go say, “We’re not a denomination. We are cooperating together to plant churches.” I mean, I appreciate the humility of that declaration, but it scares me because you have young gifted leaders who may acquire success quickly, who are ill prepared and not surrounded by people. Very often, the leadership community that surrounds that young leader are all his disciples.

Collin Hansen: Right. Yeah.

Paul Tripp: They look at a 35-year-old man, a 40-year-old man as their father in ministry. Well, that is scary to me. I said to one leader in that exact same situation, sat in his office and I said, “You need a seasoned 65-year-old man who loves you dearly, who will follow you out of a meeting and say, ‘You must not talk to your leaders that way. Let’s gather us together again.’ You confess that sin to those leaders.” I went on to say, “I’m afraid if you don’t do this, this things going to blow up.” Well, it has blown up.

Collin Hansen: Right. Yeah. Well, that’s part of as I was reading your book and trying to apply it to what I had seen, I noticed that we’re all at risk at some level.

Paul Tripp: Sure.

Collin Hansen: There’s broader cultural factors. More importantly, there’s just sin inside of us, but that there are certain demographics and certain circumstances that do make this much more perilous. And in part, just thinking about the role of… the convergence of conferences, networks, church planting, internet publication, other publishing trends and one of the aspects we’re seen, with church planting especially in urban areas, is that the demographic segmentation becomes pretty extreme and that’s where you have 35-year-olds as fathers in the faith ministering only to and among people that they’ve been ministering to for most of their lives. And then when you add on just the regular pressures of ministry, the regular pressures of middle life with kids at home, all kinds of different changes, you add on to that the opportunity for fame and fortune that come in this particular media milieu, it should not be a coincidence that we see almost no one having sometimes even. How about I’ll just say just not making it through.

Paul Tripp: I think one of the more subtle themes that runs through the lead book is in ministry, success is way more dangerous that failure.

Collin Hansen: Oh, yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Tripp: We haven’t talked about that enough, particularly when success comes young and the person who is successful is not surrounded by mature, seasoned, godly people. I can say this, I am deeply grateful that my heavenly Father knew my susceptibilities and no one knew Paul Tripp until he was over 50. I think that’s a huge grace to me. And by that time, I had surrounded myself with people who had walked with me for years, who are wise and godly and I will not ever make a serious decision in ministry without getting ahold of those people and placing myself in the middle of that counsel of godly wisdom.

The success thing is real important. There’s another issue. We’ve established a new system of authority that you gain authority, not through putting yourself under godly professors and then going to through the process of all these steps, people get authority by the amount of books they’ve published and by the amount of followers they have on the internet. It’s very hard then for that person whos got broad base cultural authority to be humble enough to listen to people who appear to be in the way of their vision for what their ministry could be.

Collin Hansen: Yeah. Yeah. You throw in podcasting on top of that or just part of that, part of that mix as well, and now all of a sudden, you’ve exacerbated problems in both directions because of the leaders influence, which can be disproportionate to character, maturity, things like that. But then also with any church, you’ve undermined authority because people are now seeking a kind of external teaching authority that can then make their local authority look rather unappealing by comparison, so that problem can work in both directions. What’s the first sign, Paul, that you know a church leader’s headed down the wrong path?

Paul Tripp: So I would have answered that question after writing Dangerous Calling by looking at the leader himself. That’s not where I would look now. I would ask myself the question, has the protective community around him, those people that should know him and love him and speak with gospel comfort and courage into his life, have the protectors become the defenders of the person and have the defenders become… even to become advocates of the system? Because if that’s happening, this man has no protection.

Now, I believe in the biblical dynamic of spiritual blindness. I believe that as long as sin remains in me, there will be pockets of spiritual blindness.

Collin Hansen: Right.

Paul Tripp: Now, I’m going somewhere here. That means I can’t say ever that no one knows me better than I know myself because there will be inaccuracies of my view of me. It’s one of the dangerous elements of remaining sin. So as Hebrews 3:12-13 would say, “I need literally daily intervention.” People to help me see what I would not see without them. I’ll give an example. I wrote an email to one of these men that I love and respect and he said, “I’ve read your email. Can we have lunch?” He put the email in front of me. He said, “If you receive that email, what would you think about this man?” Man, I was just… I was cut to the heart. I said I would say he is full of himself. I’m concerned about you. I’m concerned that you wrote that and you were willing to send.” Praise God for that. But when that community becomes the defenders instead of the protectors… And one of the reasons it happens is because they begin to argue from the vantage point of success, not the advantage point of sin and character.

I’ve heard this so many times Collin, look at all the people who have come to Christ. Look at all the churches that have been planted. They’re now defending the man instead of protecting him. And before long, they will be willing advocates of the system. When that happens, the leadership community has quit functioning the way God intended it to function. It may be the corporate board of a religious institution, but it’s no longer a spiritual community and that man is in danger.

Collin Hansen: Yeah. Well, Paul, I have a lot of sympathy for leaders in churches that grow. In a church like that, I’ve been there when the church was 100 people. I’ve been there when the church has been 1,500 members. It’s just not the same challenge.

Paul Tripp: No.

Collin Hansen: Leading 100 people versus leading 2,000 people in a mega church. How are leaders, Paul, supposed to manage that transition? I’m not sure what other realm of professional life we expect that. We’d never expect a school principal, for example, to lead successfully in both scenarios. Walk me through what a leader is supposed to do if his church does grow?

Paul Tripp: See, I think that the early commitments to humility and to community, those kinds of things, they have to be unshakable commitments that we carry through. I think what happens is at some point, strategies of achievement begin to be more what the leadership community is driven by than that old spiritual community that was so excited in the early days. I mean, you know that’s exciting in a small church.

Collin Hansen: Yeah.

Paul Tripp: I’m part of this loving, godly, honest community. You feel so blessed by that, but somehow in the busyness of getting bigger and the fact that I’m not known by the bulk of the people anymore, we don’t have that kind of intimacy broad base anymore that most of the people that have come into the church were not part of that beginning. The culture changes, but that can’t happen to the leadership culture. If it does, we’re in trouble. And I’m going to say this clearly, if it’s a value, it gets on the schedule.

Collin Hansen: Yeah.

Paul Tripp: If you want to know your true values, look at where you spend your time.

Collin Hansen: Yeah.

Paul Tripp: We have to nail into the way that we, this is a crass way of saying this, to the business of church this nurturing, prayerful, humble community of spiritual comfort and confrontation that every Christian needs. I’m talking to the choir here, but the Christianity that’s described in the New Testament is deeply relational, and there’s no indication that leaders are safe living outside of that. At some point, now that we’re 2,000, that pastor is simply not getting what he had when it was 75.

Collin Hansen: Yeah.

Paul Tripp: With the massive change in the culture, although he doesn’t understand that, becomes massive change in the man.

Collin Hansen: I think one of the changes I consistently see, Paul, is that the leader begins to see the elders or those other senior leaders as the primary threat. The primary threat to him and primary threat ultimately to the church because realistically that pastor can’t really tell the difference between himself and the church.

Paul Tripp: That’s right. And what I experienced in more than one situation is because of that, the pastor actually develops an advisory board-

Collin Hansen: Yeah. From outside the church.

Paul Tripp: From outside the church that is made to distance him from the elders who he now sees as obstructionists.

Collin Hansen: Right.

Paul Tripp: Or I’ve seen this model too. The elders that have become advocates, they get formed into an executive board that really becomes the decision making leadership body outside of the eldership.

Collin Hansen: Yeah.

Paul Tripp: Again, I think there are few men that start out with that kind of attitude.

Collin Hansen: Right.

Paul Tripp: But there’s a series of changes, I talk about them in Lead, that result in this leadership dysfunction, a man unprotected and then the direction is typically very sad.

Collin Hansen: Talking with Paul Tripp here about his new book, Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church, published by Crossway. Paul, can we rethink how we help pastors discern their calling? I think we’re letting young men assume that if they teach well and love Jesus, and this is key, people affirm them in that, then they should be pastors. I actually think it’s more accurate to ask them if they’re prepared to stand for Jesus when their friends and colleagues turn against them, then they can consider ministry. That’s kind of the flip side to what we just talked about that you don’t want to be a martyr where you set things up and you see everybody else as the problem, but the reality is in ministry, it will typically be your closest friends that cause you the greatest pain sometimes.

I mean, it’s one thing if… It’s hard for any pastor when somebody gets divorced in your church or something, but it’s especially hard when it’s one of your most trusted friends and you never saw it coming. But I think a lot of pastors get in and they see things falling apart and they think, “Well, this must mean I wasn’t called to ministry.” And I’m thinking, what example do you have biblically or historically that should tell you to expect anything else?

Paul Tripp: Yeah. Well, I think of a couple things. One, it should be noted that in the qualifications for elder, only one of those qualifications is a gift or skill qualification.

Collin Hansen: Right.

Paul Tripp: Every other one is character. Why is that?

Collin Hansen: Right.

Paul Tripp: Because the lord of the church knew what he was calling leaders into.

Collin Hansen: Right.

Paul Tripp: I have to smile when Jesus is having his final moment with his disciples. I always think, “Well, what… the final things I’d like to say to my guys?” He looks at them and one of the things he says is, “Look, they hated me. They’re going to hate you too.”

Collin Hansen: Right.

Paul Tripp: I think, Seriously? But there’s a reason for that, there’s love in those words. I don’t think we talk enough about ministry as being called to suffer.

Collin Hansen: Yeah.

Paul Tripp: You will suffer misunderstanding. You will suffer accusation. You will suffer huge spiritual burdens that you’ll have to carry, things that you wish you didn’t know about that will haunt you at night, people that you’ve grown to love who turn their back on you, who say the most unkind things to you. One of the reasons I think that the health of that spiritual community is important, it’s not just for confrontation, it’s for comfort. Comfort.

Collin Hansen: Yeah.

Paul Tripp: And if I’m going through those things, that’s not the moment for me to revisit my calling. Maybe we should say that the church wasn’t designed to be comfortable.

Collin Hansen: Yeah.

Paul Tripp: I mean, if you put a bunch of sinners in intimate relationship with one another in a fallen world, it’s probably not going to be comfortable. The church was designed to be transformational.

Collin Hansen: With Satan and accuser lurking and seeking to devour.

Paul Tripp: Absolutely. These bright sanitized stories of ministry success are just not accurate pictures of what most of us go through. I can remember as a young pastor… I have to tell you this story. I was so beaten up, I was done. I went to my elders and said, “I’m done. I can’t do this anymore.” I found a teaching job in Southern California. I thought Jesus and the beach was better than that. So that Sunday, I announced my resignation. Collin, I was as beaten up as ever, but I never thought I would experience what I experienced as a young pastor. I was leaving the church that Sunday and there was one… the oldest man in our congregation said, “Paul, can I talk to you?” I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I said, “Sure Bob, you may talk.”

He said, “Look, we know you’re immature.” I thought, Well, that’s a good start. But then he said, “Where’s the church going to get mature pastors if immature pastors run? We haven’t asked you to leave. We love you.” I began to weep. That man spoke grace into my heart. I walked home. I came in crying. Louella asked me what was wrong and I said, “I can’t leave.” My metaphor was, “God just nailed my shoes to the porch of that church.” I called my elders that afternoon and I said, “I know I’m a bit of an idiot. Can I unresign?” They said, “Well, this is not typical.” But I did. I unresigned and I stayed. And Collin, nothing else that’s happened since would have happened.

Collin Hansen: Yeah.

Paul Tripp: Now, I as a young man, I was unprepared for what I would face in ministry. That preparation is really important. We need not to be dark and negative about ministry, but we need to be honest about the cost of ministry.

Collin Hansen: Paul, why will churches remove a leader for sex and money, but not for domineering and abusive leadership?

Paul Tripp: Well, the answer to that is in a biblical definition of sin. I think part of that is that we’ve carried culturally an unbiblical definition of what a leader looks like; mean, dominant, strong personality, able to collect a quick following, sharp thinking, quick on your feet-

Collin Hansen: Verbal processor, good communicator.

Paul Tripp: Absolutely. Not afraid of anything or anyone. Well, man, if you have that definition instead of gentleness and humility and patience and tenderness-

Collin Hansen: Fruit of the spirit, yeah.

Paul Tripp: And piousness, no wonder we end up with a bully culture. If you’ve assumed a definition of leadership, well, that definition I just gave, then it’s hard to recognize a bully, and it’s hard to see that as a bad thing. And man, I have sat in leadership meetings with my breath being taken away by how this person is behaving. I got out of one meeting and I immediately called an executive pastor on his cellphone and said, “Why didn’t you say something? How is it that we’re sitting in this room and someone doesn’t say, ‘This is wrong’?”

Collin Hansen: Yeah. Well, I think I’ve sat in some of those meetings too Paul and I can say, I don’t know if this is encouraging or discouraging, I can say that in every single case where my breath has been taken away, that person is gone from ministry, and usually it’s been horrible. Where that’s not been the case, almost never is that person having problems dropping out or being forced out of ministry. So at one level, if you know what you’re looking for, it is obvious. I guess I just want to encourage people listening, if you’re in that situation right now, it won’t end well. I can’t tell you when it’s going to end or exactly how, I just know it will end and it will end badly and you will regret not having done something earlier, if you have that power to do it.

I also think when it comes to sex and money that we can find ways to object… kind of like access those sins objectively, whereas for somehow emotional, spiritual abuse is seen as on a spectrum and you don’t know when is too much or too far, so I think we need a lot more work at just helping people to understand what spiritual abuse is.

Paul Tripp: Let me speak to that Collin. I think the more the character qualities of godliness that are in Scripture become the lens that we’re looking at life through, the easier it will be for us to recognize those things. We’ve got a lens that we can look through. And if we are doing that, if tenderness and gentleness and patience and love are our standard and we’re holding that close to our hearts, then it surely is easy to recognize when behavior is taking place that doesn’t depict that standard.

Collin Hansen: Yeah. Yeah. That’s one that encourages me also, Paul, is that I don’t think there’s some kind of magic formula that has to be applied here, it’s the biblical standards for godliness. It’s the biblical standards for leadership. It’s those character traits. If you’re looking at those character traits and you’re thinking as a pastor, I don’t know if this is what people would say about me. Or if you’re thinking about your pastor, “Boy, that certainly doesn’t describe my pastor,” it’s probably not the case that you just don’t understand, it’s probably the case that that’s just not true and we’ve bought into a leadership culture that is not even inconsis- not just inconsistent with Scripture, but perhaps even antithetical to Scripture, which is truly scary.

Paul Tripp: I encourage pastors to do a little exercise. Go to your children and ask them to write down five character qualities that best describe you in the home without fear of your reprisal, do the same thing with your wife, and do the same thing with the leaders who are closest to you. If God is gloriously forgiving and gloriously restoring, you should not be afraid to do that.

Collin Hansen: Yeah. Yeah.

Paul Tripp: In fact, Collin, I include myself in this, we should be afraid not to do that.

Collin Hansen: Yeah. Boy, as I think about that, I think, “Oh, that’s scary, but also could be encouraging.”

Paul Tripp: Sure.

Collin Hansen: I suppose that’s the point.

Paul Tripp: Sure. Well, absolutely. Absolutely.

Collin Hansen: It’s going to be something of both probably.

Paul Tripp: But if we don’t do those kind of exercises, it doesn’t have to be done that way, then we are backing away from how God… the values, the leadership values that God has given us in his Word. I think that list of qualifications for elder is remarkable.

Collin Hansen: It is.

Paul Tripp: And it’s protective and it’s loving and it’s the stuff of ministry longevity. We can’t back away. We don’t have to create a leadership profile, we’ve got it. And the thing is, we have moved away from it. Maybe that goes-

Collin Hansen: The microwave approach of domineering leadership will build your church, especially if you’re planting it, it’ll build it more quickly. All you need to do is create a strong us-versus-them dynamic, an antagonistic posture toward the world, a sense that this leader is a true guru and create that kind of culture and you’ll grow more quickly than if you follow, typically speaking, than if you follow the biblical mandates.

Paul Tripp: Here’s a more biblical, gospel-oriented model. It probably is the summary of this book. The key to lasting fruit in ministry is longevity. Fruit doesn’t happen overnight. We’re not called to raise up mushrooms of righteousness, but oaks of righteousness for the display of God’s splendors. That’s long-term stuff. The key to longevity is spiritual health. We know that. The key to spiritual health is gospel community. There’s the book.

Collin Hansen: Yeah.

Paul Tripp: And if we walk away from that model, where our model is bright, gifted people, quick training, quick success, achievement becomes more important than spiritual health, the leadership group becomes a strategic group, not a spiritual group, we’re going to have more casualties.

Collin Hansen: Yeah. One thing I tell people, Paul, in looking at churches and if you’re looking to join one, you’re looking to be hired into one, a couple of things to look out for are, are there people who have been on this staff long-term? Now, that’s not the only… That can mean the opposite. That can mean a problem. But in a lot of churches that struggle with leadership culture, there’s a tremendous amount of turnover.

Paul Tripp: Yep.

Collin Hansen: Nobody really seems to survive there, unless they were only from within and unless they’re overtly known simply as defenders of that culture. Often, look for leaders who say the way to balance it is to then say, “Leaders who are independent and strong.” If you can look at a church and see people who have stayed or an organization… See, people who stayed, but who have independent strength in ministry, you probably have the kind of comfort and confrontation culture that you’re talking about.

Paul Tripp: Yeah. Yeah. I have also… One of things that I look for is if I know of people who have left, would anybody who has left ever worked for this person again?

Collin Hansen: Well, that’s a… Yeah, that’s a giveaway. Yeah.

Paul Tripp: If you talk to two or three people and they all say, “I would never work there for that person again,” that is a huge red flag.

Collin Hansen: Yeah. I agree there. That’s a good one as well. And it seems obvious, but it’s amazing, Paul, and you and I both know this, how many churches or other ministries will never talk to anybody from that previous place. They don’t even bother to follow up with people who have experienced that person, because they’ve fallen under the same spell, they’ve told themselves a certain story of success, of what this leader can bring and they don’t want somebody to disabuse them of that notion. I’m talking here, para churches, seminaries, churches, publishers. It’s amazing to me how consistently I see that happen.

Paul Tripp: There’s something that we’ve seen too, this has been very public in some of the falling of very, very well-known pastors that the first response of the leadership community is to attack the victim, to question their motives, to question whether they’re telling the truth, rather than asking, “Does this person have an experience of something that should be of grave concern to us?” That nobody is safe sitting up above or outside of the essential sanctifying or protecting minister of the body of Christ. And we’ve seen it. And then, what happens is more and more people come forward, the leadership is embarrassed and asks for forgiveness. And in six months, they’ve all resigned.

Collin Hansen: They’ve all resigned, yep. Well, and I have to say, this does not discriminate theologically.

Paul Tripp: Nope.

Collin Hansen: That’s why if you think you’re Reformed theology will protect you from this, then there’s all kinds of examples that prove you wrong there. But if you think on the contrary that this is a particular problem just for Reformed people, well then the evidence is going to tell you you’re wrong there as well. I think that’s one reason why, Paul, your book is so timely because nobody can hide.

Paul Tripp: Yeah.

Collin Hansen: It’s hit so many different people with so much success. I mean, there was a even a high-profile case recently where the leader went down after having just taken down a different leader at a former church a year or two earlier.

Paul Tripp: It’s amazing. Yeah. It is amazing. Well, I think maybe one of the Reformed renditions of this is arrogant, theological, always-rightism that I am so theologically strong and correct you can’t touch and no one can teach me anything that I don’t already know, that’s a dangerous, dangerous place to be and it doesn’t… It doesn’t have the profile of a bully, but that’s what it is. It’s a refusal to sit under the authority of God’s Word, if it’s not brought by me.

Collin Hansen: Yeah. Different churches will grab onto a different way of expressing that domineering leadership.

Paul Tripp: That’s right.

Collin Hansen: And you’re right, that the besetting sin for the Reformed is going to be that kind of arrogant teaching, an assumption that, “If you’re challenging me, it’s just because you must be a liberal or it must be because you just simply won’t submit to God’s Word, which often just becomes my particular interpretation of it, which happens to be convenient to support whatever leadership structure I’m advocating for.”

Paul Tripp: Yeah.

Collin Hansen: Well, I have one more question on the book and then one kind of last question that I love to ask the guests. But talking here again with Paul Tripp about Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church. You didn’t expect you’d be dropping this book in the middle of this pandemic and a time of tremendous leadership stress. I’m trying to create some space at The Gospel Coalition for pastors to connect with one another during a stressful time and to compare some of their differences and challenges and I think to find some consolation in that, but you also know that sometimes when you get pastors together we do tend to grumble, tend to complain, tend to think that we’re the only ones that are experiencing something like this, so what word would you have for pastors who are feeling especially stressed or just under duress in their leadership during this time as they approach your book wondering how can I benefit from the wisdom therein?

Paul Tripp: I would say that God in his love surrounds a pastor with the body of Christ, which is a community of grace. God makes his invisible grace visible by sending people of grace to give grace to people who need grace. Pastors don’t go through this alone. Reach out. Share your burdens with people that you know you can respect. Commune with other pastors. I think these moments are spiritual war. In this moment, there’s an enemy who wants to do evil, but we know from the cross, God will take the worst things ever and out of them bring the best things ever. I want to run to the Word. I want to run to my heavenly Father. I want to run to the body of Christ, and I don’t want to think that I have to be independently strong, because I’ll compromise my ministering during this time if I am.

Listen, weakness is a workroom for God’s grace. Be free to be weak and find help in the resources that God has given you. I have found every time I see a leader humbly confessing weakness, it is endearing to me. I respect him even more, and I carry that man in my heart, and I carry him in my prayers. That’s where we need to be during this time. If anything, this pandemic tells us is we’re weak and dependent and not in control.

Collin Hansen: Humbled, not grumbled.

Paul Tripp: Yeah. Yeah.

Collin Hansen: I like that approach. Last question I love to ask, Paul, what’s the last great book you’ve read?

Paul Tripp: Carl Ellis’s Free at Last.

Collin Hansen: Okay. All right.

Collin Hansen: Tell us a little bit about that book. Let’s see, that book has been around for 30 some years I think.

Paul Tripp: Yeah and it’s come out again and Sho Baraka has written a new introduction to the book. Carl is a wonderful, tender, sweet man. Carl is a man that you can’t be around long without loving because he has an infectious love for God, an infectious love for the theology of the Word of God, a deep committed love for people and I love this book because as he talks about racial issues and the history of race, that love comes across. He loves his Lord. The book attracts me because it’s a practical representation of the two great commands; love God above all else and love your neighbor as yourself. Carl is a great example of what he writes about. I love when I know the author and I can say he is a living example of what he writes.

Collin Hansen: Yeah. If his legacy of discipleship, number of people who have been touched by his writings and directly from his ministry, from his wife, Karen’s, ministry as well, is remarkable. I read that book this summer and really enjoyed it, so I’m glad you cited that one. Well, my guest on Gospelbound has been Paul Tripp, his new book Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church, published by Crossway. You know, especially after hearing from Paul here, you need to pick up the book. Thank you Paul.

Paul Tripp: Thank you.

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