Evangelical pastor John Piper's decision to take a brief leave from ministry has drawn respect from other believers.
Some indicated they were humbled by Piper's announcement to take time out over "ongoing character flaws" and pride.
"I’d encourage folks to be encouraged that Pastor John would have the humility to take this kind of step for the sake of his family, and to commit to pray for Pastor John, his family, and the saints at Bethlehem," said Justin Taylor, an elder at Grace Community Bible Church in Roselle, Ill.
Piper told his congregation, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, a week ago that he would be taking an eight-month leave – his first leave in 30 years.
"I asked the elders to consider this leave because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit," he explained in a letter.
The long-time and influential preacher apologized to his congregation for not a specific deed but for the "sins of my own soul," "ongoing character flaws" and stresses that they have caused to others.
"I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noel (his wife of 41 years) and others who are dear to me," he said.
Some Christians have commended Piper for his courage and honesty and said Piper's decision sets an example for other ministry leaders.
"My prayer is that other ministry leaders would emulate the Pipers' honesty by seeking out areas in their own lives and families where God would call them to focus energies and get their priorities in the right order," said Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.
As the daughter and wife of a pastor, Grace Driscoll noted that pastors "rarely do this."
"I was brought to tears and was extremely humbled by the courageous letter that Dr. John Piper," she said.
"The pressure to be all things to all people, and the lies by which the Enemy tries to persuade leaders can cause them to believe that church ministry IS their life," she added. "The Bible is clear about what God’s priorities are, but sadly, I have seen so many examples of pastors’ wives who are no longer the first love (after Christ) of their husbands."
She expressed gratitude for the precedent Piper and Noel are setting in allowing the church and ministry not to be idols and in prompting other ministry leaders to examine their own priorities.
"Thank you, John and Noel Piper, for the courageous and humble example of what it means to BOTH preach the gospel and live it out in your life!"
For the next eight months, Piper will not be preaching, writing, blogging, tweeting, or speaking at events – with a few exceptions that his wife agreed to. The Baptist pastor said he hopes to return after the leave of absence to preach for at least five more years.
In what seems to be his last tweet, Piper wrote on March 29: "Maybe take the 5 seconds you spend reading these, and pray for me instead. See you in January. If it's part of the new way."