So I am in the middle of considering why ministers seem to fall so often. As one commenter pointed out, we only hear of a few of these things per year and in the grand scheme of things, its not like this stuff happens everyday. That sounds very fair to me. However, I can’t help but wonder how many public embarrassing failures would be too many. Is 5 per year OK? Can we settle for that? What about 10? In part one, I stated that I thought the system the church has adpoted for full-time ministers is broken and holds the minister to a standard they cannot live up to.
This time, I want to look at it from a different angle. One commenter said they thought a lot of it had to do with the pride of the ministers. I agree with this. But I think its overly simplistic to just say well, they’re full of themselves. Again, this post is about asking why. So I ask – why do ministers get prideful?
I don’t know all ministers (big surprise!). There are thousands of full time teachers, preachers, administrators, musicians, evangelists etc. working in the body of Christ in America today. Since I don’t know them, I can’t speak to their intents. However I do know myself (yea I took Socrates’ advice) and as someone who has dealt with pride in ministry, I think I might have a few things to add.
As I began leading worship and teaching youth several years ago, I noticed something really interesting. My personal life didn’t seem to effect my effectiveness in ministry. For example, if I spent most of the day listening to worship and praying in the spirit, I was pretty much expecting and would almost always see an incredible time of worship that night and powerful youth services. However, occasionally I’d have a bad day at work, snap at a coworker and cuss out a client under my breath after an irritating call. Maybe I’d “flesh out” and watch Family Guy and listen to Avenged Sevenfold. On these days, to my amazement, we would have an equally amazing time of worship – sometimes even more so. And when I laid my hands on the youth, they’d still get saved, healed and delivered. What?!, I would think, How in the world did that happen? I fully expected to flop as a minister because of my personal failings. But what I’ve learned over the years is that ministry is a calling and really has nothing to do with me. Furthermore, because God’s desire to set people free is so strong, my personal inconsistencies don’t influence His desire to move among His people. He is willing to overlook my failings because He is so desperate to be with His children.
We see this over and over in the bible. People like Abraham (who knocks up his servant), Moses (who kills an Egyptian), David (who commits adultery and murders), and Sampson, etc. all have the call of God on their lives and God uses them through their imperfections to lead his people. He dealt with each minister’s sin privately and, contingent upon eventual repentance, he continued to use these men.
Wow! I don’t know about you but that brings so much hope to me. First of all it relieves me from the weight of that perfection goal I feel as a minister. Secondly, it demonstrates God’s amazing love for his people.
Unfortunately, it can also create a situation where a minister feels that they are “above the law” and since God continues to use them even though they are in sin, they don’t see the need to repent. I believe this is the root of pride that causes many ministers to fall. Because their ministries seem unaffacted by their sin, they don’t have any sense of urgency to repent. They misintepret God’s willingness to use their imperfection for the sake of his people as God’s indifference toward their sin. Eventually, sin catches up to the minister (as it always does) and once again, the church makes headlines.