A Pathway to Avoid Pitfalls
Pastors have been experiencing major falls due to ineffectiveness, stress, burnout, financial struggle, and moral values. This does not just happen, but there are always warning signs that when not dealt with might lead to the downfall and shame of the pastor. This paper will address the steps that a pastor can take in order to avoid the pitfalls of financial and sexual failure. Mostly, people handle sexual failure since it is more disgracing to a clergy than financial failure. As such, the paper will bring to light steps that pastors can take to avoid financial and sexual failure.
- Building an Intimate Relationship with God
An intimate relationship with God is a major step in avoiding pitfalls in the ministry. Intimate relationships with God are built through prayers and an in-depth studying of the Bible. In the modern world, sin has become quite widespread and has deeply penetrated the church, thereby compromising the leadership of the clergy. For this reason, pastors should avoid being ‘too busy for God’. As pastors, it is our responsibility to love God through fellowship and constant communion with Him. It also means spending time in His presence and seeking His face daily in order that we might become more like Him and less of us. Fabry (2007) states that ministers have to keep their priorities right to avoid distortions by “a life driven by responsibilities, desires and expectations of others, leaders can get lost in the time demands and complexities of ministry,” (p. 12). As such, pastors must endeavor to build strong foundations through spiritual discipline of prayer, fasting, worship, fellowship with God, and with fellow believers. In this way, pastors will be strong in what they do, and can then withstand temptations, as noted by the following Bible verse:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)
When pastors endeavor to seek God daily, this enables them to avoid pitfalls in their daily lives. As human beings, our flesh may at times tempt us into committing sins. This is likely to happen when we do not seek God and His word constantly. Moreover, prayers and reading the word of God gives us the knowledge to avoid falling into such temptations as sexual sin and financial indiscipline. As Ghallagher (2007) states, “people are vulnerable to temptation when their daily lives are not lined up with the God’s word,” (p. 2). Additionally, through spiritual discipline, some undesirable characters and behaviours in us are eliminated by the power in the Word and the power of God through prayer. As such, pastors ought to put God first, since he is the one who called them and not the people or his congregation, and all this will be added unto them such as finances, family success, ministry success ( Matthew 6:33 KJV).
- Be accountable
We are all accountable to God for our actions; however, as brothers and sisters in faith, we are called to speak the truth and in love. As Paul put it in James 5:16 KJV, “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” According to a study conducted by the Leadership Ministry survey, 55% of pastors or ministers do not have groups or close friends to whom one may be accountable to (Goodall, 2008). This state of isolation in the ministry leads to pitfalls such as sexual sin and financial failure. Through confessing one’s sins, a pastor is better able to share with a close and trustworthy friend their personal struggles that they are going through, and this might save the minister from failure.
According to Fabry (2007), lack of accountability and having too much power in church results to failure for pastors. This is because pastors who lack accountability have the power to do as they please as they are not answerable to anybody. This also allows them to spend as much as they want to the point of even using church funds to satisfy their personal desires. This is evident in the Bible through Judas Iscariot who was the chief financial controller in the ministry of Jesus. Judas had control over offerings and funds and would often steal the money with no one noticing: John 12:5, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor-he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.” This led to the downfall of Judas Iscariot, since his lack of accountability made him a thief and increased the evil desire of money in him, leading him to betray Jesus in exchange for money.
- Keep yourself busy with important matters and with the right people
People often build undesirable behavior when they are alone, in addition to indulging in unnecessary activities when in the wrong company. Moreover, staying in isolation and being idle leads to temptations that could result in sexual failure and financial failure. This is evident in the Bible, when David fell into sexual sin with Bathsheba, as indicated in 2 Samuel 11:1 (KJV). David tarried in Jerusalem at a time when Kings went to war, but he sent Joab and his servants, while he remained in Jerusalem. This isolation made David idle, which led to him notice Bathsheba as he taking a stroll on the roof of his palace. As a result, he committed the sin of adultery and murder. Subsequent events that followed this sin were the most devastating for David. His family collapsed and he almost lost his kingdom to his son Absalom. As such, pastors ought to keep themselves busy with important things and surround themselves with honest and trustworthy people. This will enable their friends and families to advise them and correct them in matters of finances and morality.
Importance of Integrity in Ministry
According to Akin (n.d), the church is facing integrity crisis, which has resulted to immorality, media criticism, confusion, heartbreaks, and distrust in the church. This reveals that integrity is an essential factor in the ministry and as such, it should be cultivated. Integrity in the ministry means that a pastor ought to have moral standing in all areas including in finances and sexuality. Integrity leads to trust and builds love in the church. Moreover, integrity attracts God’s blessings, since God delights in upright people (Psalms 41:11-13, Proverbs 28:18). This implies that God abandons a person who is not upright and honest and this could lead to the fall of a pastor. Equally important is that integrity builds the church and attracts the faithful to the church since people are attracted to honest and blameless people. In the event that a pastor lacks integrity, his congregation will not be convinced by his ways. As a result, trust is broken leading to his downfall.
Conclusively, no one is immune to sexual and financial failure; however it is possible to stay righteous and upright. We are living in the days of abundant grace and without grace the church is under threat from sins of this world. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God says that His Grace is sufficient as his strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. God knows that though his pastors are anointed and filled with the Holy Spirit, they are human after all, and hence weak. As such, he has provided his grace to enable us withstand the world. Moreover, through spending time in the presence of God, being accountable and avoiding wasting time in unhelpful activities, pastors are better able to avoid falling into sexual and financial failure.
Akin, D. L. (n.d). What God Expects of His Ministers. Integrity in Ministry. Retrieved from http://www.danielakin.com/wp-content/uploads/old/Resource_264/Integrity%20in%20Ministry.pdf
Fabry. C. (2007). Pastoral Restoration: The Path to Recovery. Retrieved from http://media.focusonthefamily.com/pastoral/pdf/PAS_PastoralRestoration.pdf
Gallagher, S. (2007). Why Pastors fall. Pure Life Ministries. Retrieved fromhttp://www.purelifeministries.org/filerequest/1850.pdf
Goodall, W. (2008). Sexual Ethics in the Ministry. Ministers Connect. Retrieved from http://ministers.ag.org/pdf/articles/SexualEthics.pdf