I just read an article about the pastor of a large church here in Denver and the apparent revelation of an affair. News like this always rocks me and makes me very sad for the body of Christ. Below are some of my thoughts for people in full time ministry or who consider themselves a ministry leader, especially those who are married. My wife and I have been in ministry over twenty years and feel like I have a few observations that could help a pastor/leader who will be tempted by the devil on a regular basis.
You are not above a moral failure
First and foremost, when a person in leadership hears about another leader who has had some kind of moral failing, the first thing to do is pray for them and realize that NO ONE is above falling to temptation. When you realize that you are as vulnerable as anyone else in the world then you begin to put the elements below in place to keep your eyes focused on Jesus.
My dad is a mechanic so I have been around cars my whole life. If you didn’t know, there is a very important part of every car that could save your life if your engine ever caught fire. It is called the “firewall” and separates the engine compartment from the rest of the vehicle. It is made of reinforced metal and fire retardant material to help shield passengers from fire and is an INTENTIONAL element of every vehicle. I have multiple firewalls in my life including my best friend and my wife who are allowed to randomly ask me how I am doing in my mind and actions. Not just sexually, but in financial dealings and just to help me stay on track in life, especially being in television ministry. Now, I can always lie and tell them everything is fine when it may not be, but if I do that I am endangering myself with relationships in my life. That would basically be the equivalent of taking a hacksaw to the protective element of a car and opening myself up to danger. Something important to realize is that accountability is only as good as the desire to WANT to be held accountable. That “want” comes from value we put on our marriages, our ministry and ourselves.
If you are married, wear your wedding ring
One of the easiest ways to help deter advances from anyone, if you are married, is to wear your dang wedding ring. This is not a hard and fast rule, because people can be so unhappy or broken in life that they wouldn’t care if you were wearing your wedding tux or dress and carrying around a crystal framed picture of your spouse, they would still make a pass at you. Wearing your ring shows intentionality in your relationship to your spouse. If for nothing else, it can be a reminder to the vow you made when you are being tempted in some way. If you don’t like wearing rings then get a tattoo of one on your ring finger or get a gel ring or use a twisty tie. Now there are times where you will not have a ring on. For me it is when I go shooting, hiking or running. The point is that when you make an effort to wear your ring, you don’t know how that can help deter someone from making advances. Again, it is not fool proof but everything helps.
If you are married, have a great, honest sex life
I truly believe that one of the main issues that trip up married people in ministry is their sex life. You also notice that I didn’t just say “great” sex life but added the word “honest” as far as communication with your spouse. Men, you need to let your wife know that sex is important (if it is) and come up with an agreement on how much sex you will have. Women, you need to be honest with your husbands about your sexual needs as well and if either of you feel like you have a low sex drive or are losing the desire for sex. When you are honest about things like this, you are making sure that your sexual needs are met in the context of marriage and not leaving a door open for someone else to fulfill that need that was only and always meant to be enjoyed in the context of marriage. I know that for Yolanda and me, just being busy in life can be a main factor in disrupting a healthy sex life. The key is COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION!
Be Careful about Movies/Entertainment you Watch
I am always astounded at the number of church/ministry leaders who go to movies (that can be easily checked online for content) that have nudity in them. You need to evaluate the desire for entertainment in your life and at what cost. Everything you watch, even on television, needs to be evaluated and screened as far as where it encourages your mind to go. I am not saying that watching a movie with nudity will keep you out of heaven but actually something just as bad. It can cause your mind to wander and be tempted to do something with someone that will tear down what you are called to do on this earth to help people see Jesus in and through you. Essentially, becoming a stumbling block to someone else and standing in the way of them developing a relationship with Jesus. We need to do everything we can to mitigate entertainment that causes us to have a wandering mind sexually. The world we live in is not getting better with sexual content in movies and television and actually getting worse. The choices we make about entertainment is not trying to prove that we are more spiritual than anyone else, but protecting the things we see and hear that fully shape who we are and how we act.
Again, none of these are magical rules for life but just common sense suggestions to help secure a healthy and happy marriage in ministry. Because ministry is about people and dealing with vulnerable moments for them, it is important that we live an INTENTIONAL life in the area or moral purity. Temptation will ALWAYS be around us as long as we walk this earth, but we always have a choice to prioritize our lives and decide what we are willing to protect on a daily basis.
I had some GREAT advice today from a friend about diffusing gossip with someone. When people bring you some juicy morsel of information you can stop that person and say, “Wow. You really care a lot about that person. Have you tried to call them yet and pray with them?” I thought that was a great way to keep in context why people are sharing information that can only be construed as destructive and not constructive.
Praying for you all and the great work you do to help people walk this life to reflect Jesus. Keep fighting the good fight and make sure that you value the right things in life and guard them with all your heart.