January 8, 2013 by eimrick
I had a rough time sleeping last night. A youth pastor in Nashville is being tried for rape of a minor in his youth ministry. Only God knows the whole truth, but I know one thing, I believe that most young college students who aspire to be youth pastors don’t envision this in their future. I talk with young guys all the time. They want to change the world, bring God’s restoration to a lost and broken people, want to marry a woman and raise a child or two who would join them in the journey of what they believe that God has called them to do. No one has ever told me that they want to devastate and hurt a lot of people and ruin a ministry that otherwise could be faithful and fruitful.
We are all one or two decisions away from ruining our reputation; devastating the ministry that we’re passionate about, hurting the people we love the most so deeply, and most importantly, hurting the very heart of God. When David first innocently saw Bathsheba, he surely didn’t think he would murder her husband. There was a slippery slope that happened very quickly. Every step you and I take has the potential of being that first step down that slippery slope where we lose our footing and grasp at anything to save ourselves.
You and I are a prideful people. We’re in positions of leadership. People look up to you and I and it feels good. But we are also an incredibly vulnerable people. We have power in people’s lives that can be used for harm or for good. Our hearts apart from Christ are wicked and deceitful and we’re people who are in desperate need of God’s grace and mercy.
What happened in Nashville could happen to me. It could happen to you. If we don’t believe that to be true, then we are in a world of trouble.
When I was in Bible College in the mid-90’s, a chapel speaker mentioned that every time one of his college classmates fell into sexual sin (he graduated in the 1970’s), he would write their name in his Bible to see how many people would be left in his life time. That began a trend amongst some of my friends that thought it would be a good idea to do the same. At first what seemed like a good idea later seemed to be one of the biggest obstacles to faithfulness and longevity in ministry. If I know of a friend who takes that approach, why am I going to talk to him about anything that I need help for? If I’m drowning in the ocean with no life preserver, why would I call out to him for help when I see that he simply asks people who are drowning; “where did you get your swimming lessons?” When Pharisees caught a woman in adultery, Jesus asked for one of them who hadn’t sinned to cast the first stone.
What we don’t know though is how to create a community of honesty and vulnerability amongst ourselves as leaders.
Please take 10 minutes to answer these “yes/no” questions.
Do you have a person that you can tell details of your deepest struggle?
Do you have areas of your private life that absolutely NO ONE knows about?
Are you struggling with the cliché answers that you give to people who are struggling?
Are you looked up to in ministry yet your marriage is falling apart?
Are you actively doing things that scare you?
Are you past being scared of the things you’re doing?
Do you justify your actions because they’re not as bad as a lot of people?
Are you actively looking for things to distract you from your present reality?
Are your anxious thoughts continuing to keep you awake at night?
Is there someone in your ministry that you figure out ways to be around all the time?
Are you being vulnerable around this person to win them over?
Is your prayer life suffering because of shame?
Are you in the Word less now than when you began your leadership role?
Are you fearful to confess sin for fear of consequences?
If you answered YES to any of these 14 questions, I am pleading with you to talk openly with someone who can come alongside of you. Look for a friend. You may not even realize it, but you need help. You may or may not presently be in a volatile situation, but you are extremely vulnerable.
If you answered NO to all of these questions, I am pleading EVEN MORE SO for you to talk openly with someone who can come alongside of you. It is possible that you have blind spots in significant areas of your life that can only be addressed by another person.
Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.
God grant us grace and mercy.