Gospel Relevance

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John Piper’s Regrets in Ministry

I love watching or reading interviews with Christian leaders. Interviews give us an opportunity to learn real and raw information about someone, often because the one being interviewed is caught off guard. Who you truly are is revealed when you are surprised. Sometimes I re-watch interviews because the insights gleaned were so helpful. Such is the case with an interview I recently re-watched with John Piper and Collin Hansen.

John Piper regrets

Photo Credit: Desiring God

While the interview is a few years old, there’s still tons of gold here. This is especially true if you are a pastor, preacher, or ministry leader, or if you like John Piper’s ministry (as I do).

In this interview, Piper talks about things he doesn’t miss as a pastor, his regrets in ministry, and more. Give it a watch.

I encourage you to watch the video. But if time fails you at the moment, here are some quick highlights.

Highlights from the Interview:

1. Piper, in some sense, regrets everything he has ever done — meaning, he feels as if things could have always gone better.

2. On point number one, he quotes Charles Spurgeon: “A man is not a good man if he does not think that he could be better.”

3. Piper speaks on the meetings he led, and how they often could have been led better.

4. Piper goes on into things he could have done more of, and one of them is personal evangelism.

5. Piper says that he doesn’t look back with any sense of triumphal success on anything.

6. How is a preacher formed? The sorrows of the pastorate make the preacher.

7. God was totally in charge of keeping him at Bethlehem Baptist Church as long as he did and making it as fruitful as it was.

8. Piper thought about quitting a lot.

9. The Lord never let those ready-to-leave feelings come when there was an opportunity to move. The opportunities to move came when he didn’t want to move. And so he (God) timed it perfectly.

10. Piper doesn’t miss being in meetings where he couldn’t figure things out. Those meetings where he would go home and say to his wife, “I’m no good at this.”

I also like how Piper views the expression “No regrets.” He takes that to mean, “I’m glad I did it,” not “I don’t think I could have done a better job.”

I enjoy hearing Christian leaders talk about their success and how they got there (and how the Lord moved in their midst to cause the success), but I also feel encouraged when I hear about the hard parts of ministry, as this humanizes the person and reminds us that we all struggle in many ways. I’m grateful for Piper’s honesty in this interview.

You may also like: 

  1. Tim Keller on the Three Biggest Idols in Western Churches Today 
  2. How Not to Preach Boring: Practical Preaching Advice from Kevin DeYoung

About David Qaoud

David Qaoud (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary) is associate pastor of Bethesda Evangelical Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and founder of gospelrelevance.com. His work has appeared on The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Banner of Truth. He lives in St. Louis with his wife and son. Learn more>