A Warning For Pastors
A couple of years ago I was serving as the worship pastor of a church in Atlanta, GA. One day the lead pastor had us take a trip to a church far away to spend a few hours with their pastoral staff. He had heard that the church was doing some creative things and they were a “successful”, growing church. The lead pastor of the church we were visiting had charisma and they were definitely doing some innovative things that drew a lot of people.
Once we got back our pastoral staff seemed so excited about all that they had gleaned from the other church staff. They were ready to go to work and implement a lot of the ideas. Unfortunately, a few weeks after that meeting, we heard very sad news. The lead pastor of the church we had visited had stepped down due to moral failure. He had been involved for a while in a relationship with a woman in the church.
This week I heard about another pastor that stepped down from ministry due to moral failure. He committed adultery with his assistant. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard of different pastors in this situation. Sadly, every single church I’ve been a part of either serving on staff or as a member, they had a pastor who stepped down from ministry due to moral failure. Nobody wins in these situations.
Probably the best known case of moral failure is Ted Haggard.
Today, it got me thinking… ‘What are some things that can cause pastors to end up at this destructive place?’ Here are some common signs I’ve seen in these cases.
-They neglected spending time in the Word of God outside of sermon preparation. It is so easy for pastors to just read the Bible with the purpose of teaching out of it, not for their own personal growth and intimacy in God. It’s so crucial for pastors to read the Bible not just as part of their “job”.
-They neglected to observe the Sabbath. I believe this is one commandment that pastors tend to compromise or make excuses for the most because it is so easy to just think, ‘I’m doing God’s work.’ In some circles it’s actually an admirable trait if the pastor does not take a day off.
-They neglected their spouse. Just like other men working in other career fields, pastors face the temptation to value their title at work over their title at home. They pour their lives into ministry because they felt called by God. In the meantime, they neglect their spouse, not realizing that God called them to lead their family first.
-They neglected accountability. Sure pastors can know a lot of people and have a lot of friends. It doesn’t mean that pastors have people in their lives that they can share their personal struggles with. Too many times pastors are put on a pedestal so they feel like they can’t be real with anyone, fearing that people might be disappointed or even shun them if they really knew all the struggles and temptations they were facing.
These are just four of the common signs I’ve observed in most of the moral failure cases I’ve seen. What are your thoughts and what can church members do to help pastors in these areas?
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