Paul Tripp confesses sometimes he attends pastors’ conferences and wants to stop and ask “Who do we think we are?” That’s because he feels there is too much emphasis nowadays on methods, strategies, and agendas.
Tripp says many pastors feel “If they have the right set of strategies and they’re executed in the right way, we’re going to have fruit.” But Tripp calls this line of thinking “an entirely scientific, unbiblical view of ministry.” In other words, an over-emphasis on strategies and agendas will place the focus on our own works and de-emphasize the things that really produce fruit: Prayer and the word of God (according to Tripp).
Tripp admonishes pastors that we have to put our hope in the power of prayer and in the God who says “I will never turn a deaf ear to the cries of my people.” We need to cry out to God because he has power to do what we can’t do.
Tripp points out some key things that, despite all the strategies and methods we can conjure, we cannot do as ministers:
Convict people of sin
Cause a person to desire to follow Jesus
Cause a husband and wife to surrender their agenda to a life of biblical love
Make a child want to obey authority
“It’s not the force of my personality. It’s not my communication gifts,” that produces fruit in the church, Tripp emphasizes. Rather it is “the Spirit of God propelling the word of God into the hearts of the people of God.”
At the end of the day, Tripp says prayer and the word is all he has to win souls. “I don’t have anything else.”
Think of the disciples. Tripp asks who would have chosen that “motley group” of disciples? He speculates there isn’t a church today that would have any of those men for interns. And yet God used them to turn the world around.
What we learn from the example of the disciples is that “God calls no one because they’re able. He calls us because he’s able.” Furthermore, “If you doubt your gifts, you’re doubting the mercy of the one who calls you. There is no one who has more enthusiasm about the use of your gifts than the giver does.”
Tripp’s words should encourage us not to covet the gifts or abilities of another person. After all, our own efforts can do nothing to save us or produce fruit in the church. We have to rely completely on prayer and the word of God to do those things.