The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Patching Cracks

 

March 6, 2019



Over the last few weeks, I have read about several prominent pastors who lost their jobs after accusations of abuse of power and improper behavior were made and verified. As a guy who works in ministry, these sorts of things are disheartening to me.

For starters, one of the pastors is a guy I really respect. Seeing fellow believers fall is heart-breaking as well because I believe it when the scriptures describe fellow believers as God’s family. If my brother ruined his life with a pattern of bad behavior, I’d be heartbroken as well.

Finally, when a pastor blows it, it hurts the entire church. All believers are hurt because it teaches us to be cynical about leaders, and sometimes it can cause us to doubt our faith. For those outside of the church, it depicts the church as hypocritical and damages the larger message of Jesus.

I’m commenting on this as a pastor who is human. I am not Jesus, though I try hard to be more like Him every day. I sin and I struggle with temptation. I pray that my imperfections will never cause folks to stumble in their faith or doubt the truth in God’s word. I don’t think it’s inevitable that pastors will stumble and I don’t think it’s unforgivable.

The central message of Christianity is one of grace and forgiveness despite our tendency to fall into sin. Sin isn’t the end of the road for a pastor. In fact, I firmly believe that being real about our sin and human imperfection makes us better pastors because we can be more relateable and approachable for folks who struggle with their own sin.

No one wants to talk to the perfect guy about their struggles. It’s much easier to talk to another guy who screws up. This is a huge thing because secrecy makes sin worse. There is a saying in AA: “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” The sins you hide from the world will inevitably grow into bigger and uglier sins. Countless times in my two decades of ministry work, I have been in places to counsel folks who have had sinful habits they’ve struggled to break.

In every instance those folks live in terror that anyone will discover what is going on, so they lie and hide their sin. The problem is that this is typically a recipe for making it much, much worse. Often times this is the case for Christians, who fear that folks will find out they are not perfect.

This prompts them to hide their struggles while they put on an outward appearance of perfection. The thing is that many other believers are struggling with their own sin issues. Because everyone is hiding their struggles, no one feels ok opening up about it.

This is the opposite of the Christianity we find in the New Testament. Believers are encouraged to confess their sins to one another and bear each other’s burdens. The pattern of hiding our real selves from each other is tragic because often the first step to dealing with patterns of sin is talking with other believers about it. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got about pastoring is that it is vital to maintain relationships with other men who can keep you accountable for your actions.

This is a big deal because we often let ourselves go on minor oversteps and forgive ourselves for little sins. Those little things can easily grow into larger sins. The first step to getting control of the sin that controls us is opening up about it. This isn’t limited to sin. It is also the case for anxiety, depression, and other personal struggles.

The hardest part is taking the first step to admit to others that we need help or support. Often, the best thing we can do to help others is open up about our own imperfections and struggles.

 
 

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