Piper and Carson: “12 Lessons for the Scholar as Pastor”
These observations were made as John Piper and D.A. Carson talked about the subject “pastor as scholar / scholar as pastor. ”
- Take steps to avoid becoming a mere quartermaster. Any army needs quartermasters. If you’re an academic, you need to get on the front lines. Take five years to serve in a church. Engage the world at a personal level. Do evangelism. The origin of Carson’s The Gagging of God was university evangelism.
- Beware of the seduction of applause. This can come from at least two directions: (1) Academic seduction = it is more important to be learned than to be learned. Carson learned from his doctoral mentor that scholars may not have it all figured out after all; Carson learned that he would rather have what he had than what his doctoral mentor had. (2) The conservative-constituency-of-your-friends seduction = scholarship is for sale, and you constantly bolster your own group to show that you’re right. The approval of Jesus is what matters.
- Fight with every fiber of your being the common dichotomy between objective study of Scripture and devotional reading of Scripture. Be worshipful and devout in the most critical exegesis, and when you’re having your devotions, don’t stop thinking. Perhaps you could even have your devotions in Greek and Hebrew.
- Never forget that there are people out there—people for whom Christ died. It’s motivating to teachers for them to keep in mind the future ministry of their students.
- Happily recognize that God distributes different gifts among scholar-pastors as he distributes different gifts among various groups. Rejoice in scholars who are more productive than you are. (Footnote: Learn from those who have gone ahead of you to be at least reasonably strategic.)
- Recognize that students don’t learn everything you teach them. If the gospel becomes assumes but not what you are excited about, then you will teach your students that the gospel is not very important. If the first generation assumes the gospel, the second will marginalize it, and the third will deny it.
- Make the main thing the main thing, not only by not merely assuming the gospel, but in every domain of life. Don’t teach people merely to master the NT but to be mastered by the NT. Don’t teach people merely what passages say but how to find out what passages say. Don’t do systematic theology by focusing so much on prolegomena that you never get around to doing positive theology.
- Pray and work. Don’t let the agenda of publishers control your life. Don’t say Yes to every offer from publishers to write something. Don’t get owned.
- Love the church. TEDS is not going to exist in eternity; the church is.
- Avoid lone-ranger scholarship. Reading makes a full man, speaking a quick man, and writing an exact man (Francis Bacon). Collaborate with others when you write. Before you publish something, give it to others for review first (both friends and enemies).
- Be at least as interested in the work of others as you are in your own. Encourage others.
- Take the work seriously but not yourself. Get your spouse and children to laugh at you.