By Chuck Lawless
We all know stories of long-term pastors – leaders who’ve been in the ministry for years – who still fall morally. We grieve when we hear the stories, and we wonder how it can happen to ministry veterans. Based on my studies of how Satan attacks leaders, here are some reasons even long-term pastors fall.
- “Success” leads them to letting their guard down. The more “successful” pastors are, the easier it is to assume, “That will never happen to me.” Their thinking sounds like this: “After all, God has always blessed my ministry, hasn’t He? He won’t let this happen to me.”
- Longer ministry = more opportunities to fall. This reason’s really simple. The more time pastors spend with more people, the more opportunity they have to get wrongly connected with someone. Longer ministries demand more awareness of falling – not less.
- They’ve learned to hide in the ministry. Busyness and excellent speaking skills can cover a lot of private sin. Public ministry does not always include private accountability. What looks great on the outside isn’t always so pure on the inside.
- They never really developed spiritual disciplines. I speak to a lot of pastors who candidly admit that Bible study and prayer have always been struggles. They’ve searched for a deep relationship with God and have never really found it.
- Ministry has worn down their defenses. I’ve not met any pastors who started ministry defeated and discouraged. I have met many, though, who are now in that state. Sometimes emotional and spiritual fatigue drives them to wrong solutions.
For points 6-9, read the rest of the post at the blog of Chuck Lawless.
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice-president of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as professor of Evangelism and Missions.