Seven years ago, my family and I moved from Southern California, where I was a pastor at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, to New York City so that I could study under Tim Keller and his newly formed partnership with Reformed Theological Seminary – it was a decision I will never regret. I was in the first cohort of this new alliance, and while I learned many things both in class with Dr. Keller and as a pastor working with him at Redeemer Downtown, a few things stand out.
For a man who is possibly one of the most influential Christian thinkers and authors of our generation, he lives and speaks very humbly. His apartment (he still rents) looks like it hasn’t changed since 1987 (popcorn ceilings and all), and I have honestly never heard him speak ill of any person – ever. I asked him about the latter, and he told me that since we all probably have said things that we regret or that came out wrong at some point, then it probably isn’t completely fair to judge someone too harshly – especially if you never took the time to sit with them and really hear what they fully thought on a given subject.
His pastoral heart.
I remember one day in our pastoral resident cohort, Tim told my colleagues and me that while it is not uncommon for Christian leaders to be paid well for being good public speakers, good leaders and good authors, it is uncommon to for them to be paid well for being good pastors – but that is exactly what people need more than anything. He ended the meeting by saying that it is his goal to make us into good pastors, if church leadership gets that right, then other aforementioned areas are automatically strengthened.
I could go on and on, as Tim has always taken time out of his very busy schedule to coach and teach me (both in and out of class), to support me (letters of recommendation, phone calls, etc.), and to meet with me in seasons of great personal transition and turmoil – times which I always found grounding, encouraging and life-giving. All that being said, I am thankful for Tim and am heartbroken over the news of his cancer. I will be praying for God’s intervention both medically and miraculously as his voice, his insights and his gospel-centered perspective are sure to be an ongoing source of comfort and clarity in the challenging circumstances we are all currently in and likely headed toward. I invite you to intercede in these areas that he has specifically asked for prayer in.
Tim’s Prayer Requests:
1. “For God to use medical means or his direct intervention to make the cancer regress to the point of vanishing.
2. For Kathy and me, that we would use this opportunity to be weaned from the joys of this world and to desire God’s presence above all.
3. For my family to be comforted and encouraged.
4. For the side effects of treatment to allow me to continue writing and speaking.”