It seems every mont I’m hearing about another pastor who has fallen out of ministry for committing adultery or some other shot at his integrity. Usually, it is pastors no one has heard of, but sometimes, it is someone known. Someone from a large church, a charismatic leader doing some great things. Almost 2 years ago, I wrote about Gary Lamb and how that shaped my thinking.
Yesterday, another leader I followed on twitter and on his blog announced that he was stepping down. Immediately, a flood of emotions run through your mind. I started scrolling through twitter and there is person after person calling them out, saying horrible things about them, their sin and those involved.
Here are a few thoughts on this in general:
- If you think you can’t fall, you are a moron. Straight up idiot. I think this is the first step to falling. You think it can’t happen to you. To destroy your ministry and set a church back, he just needs one leader to fall. It ruins the name of the gospel, Jesus and that church. It doesn’t even need to be the lead pastor, it can be an elder, the worship pastor, student pastor, a wife. Anyone.
- Throwing rocks doesn’t help anyone or move the gospel forward. When someone admits to sinning, confesses and says they want to restore themselves and their marriage. Give grace. I often wonder where we would be in life in Jesus gave us the grace we give. Imagine going to the cross and Jesus saying, “Do you know how horrible that sin was? Do you? Do you really feel bad? Do you?”
- Put some boundaries in place. I have blogged about this before, but here are a few ideas: don’t meet alone with someone of the opposite sex (if you are married), don’t ride in the car alone, don’t be in a house alone, don’t be in an office with the door closed and no window alone with them. Have a male assistant or an older, unattractive woman.
- Listen to your spouse. If your wife or husband (depending) is uncomfortable with someone, listen up. When Katie tells me a woman makes her uncomfortable or seems to have ulterior motives, my antenna goes up and I listen.
- Don’t be physical with someone you aren’t married with. As a pastor, you need to shepherd people, but you need to be careful. Physical touch can be appropriate and needed, but be careful. Side hugs are good ideas and safe.
- Close loops. Don’t interact with old flames. Don’t be friends on facebook. Don’t email. Don’t follow them on twitter. Don’t call them. Get them out of your life. All of them.
- Pursue your spouse and make it your most important human relationship. If you want your marriage to last, if you want sex to be exciting and you want this relationship to be life giving. Put time and effort into it. Have a weekly date night. Get away for a night every year. Whenever people say, “I don’t know how you have time for a weekly date night.” I wonder, “How do you not have time for the most important relationship you have on the planet?”
In the end, whenever I read or hear about pastors or leaders or anyone committing adultery or leaving their spouse I get angry and sad. It also pushes me to purity and to the cross. I know that by the grace of God, it isn’t me. The thought of losing everything: my integrity, my ministry, the call on my life, my family, kids, trust. It pushes me to have boundaries, to stay pure, to stay close to the cross and my wife.
I hope it does the same for you.