Protecting pastors from moral failure

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The call to be a pastor is the highest calling on the planet. What could be more important than serving as an undershepherd of the Lord Jesus, ministering to His bride? Since the church is the only thing in our world, including the world itself, that Scripture assures us is eternal, those who work to nurture and grow the church have surely answered a holy call.

To carry out KBC’s mission of helping churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ, we have focused the work of the Kentucky Baptist Convention Mission Board staff first and foremost on helping pastors. From my personal experience as a pastor for 18 years and in my role of serving churches and pastors for the past five years, I recognize the incredible privilege of serving as a pastor but also the heavy burdens that pastors carry. And I recognize that the enemy targets pastors because, as God’s word reminds us, sheep tend to scatter when their shepherd falls.

Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Darrin Patrick, Bob Coy, Billy Graham’s grandson, Tullian Tchividjian; the list of pastors with near rock-star status who have resigned their ministries over the past couple of years due to moral failure is shocking. Beyond the megachurch stage lights, hundreds of others have disqualified themselves from pastoral ministry, lesser known, but bringing just as much pain and disappointment to themselves, their families, and those whom they were charged to shepherd in the local church.

We deeply love and respect our pastors and want to ensure we are doing all we can to help protect them from the enemy. What can we do?

First, we can recognize the vulnerability of every person, including the men called by God to be pastors. In 1 Corinthians 10, the Apostle Paul uses the example of the Hebrews in the wilderness, those who “drank from the spiritual Rock” (v. 4), to show how even those who have lived in total dependence upon God can easily fall prey to temptations.

Second, we must recognize the two greatest enemies we face: Satan and the man in the mirror. In the same passage, 1 Corinthians 10, Paul references those who were “destroyed by the Destroyer” (v. 10) and warns us against thinking we stand (v. 12) lest we fall. Paul is obviously addressing the problem of pride. Most every sin and every moral failure, can be traced to pride, i.e., the love of self. The most difficult task we have is to control ourselves and our own cravings and passions.

Third, we must never forget the pain and brokenness that follows moral failure. Paul reminds us that the Hebrews “were overthrown in the wilderness” (v. 5) and “twenty-three thousand fell in a single day” (v. 8). He offers this example as a sober warning to the Lord’s people to guard our lives from sin.

As we guard our own lives, let us commit ourselves to guarding our pastors with constant prayer, and encourage our pastors to guard one another with appropriate accountability. We want every KBC pastor to finish well for his sake, the sake of his family, the sake of the church, and for the sake of Christ.

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