Recent weeks have brought news of more pastors who have taken their own lives. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen multiple news reports of pastors who have lost their ministries and, in some cases, their families due to moral failings.
How do we respond when we see pastors involved in blatant sin? How do we react when we see spiritual leaders who have ended their own lives?
The first response, of course, is mourning. We must mourn over the reality of our broken world. Brokenness has been on display in high-definition this year, on many fronts – from a deadly pandemic to the race riots we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks. The news about these pastors just piles on an already traumatic year. We live in a world that does not operate the way God intended. While Genesis 3 explains that sin is, ultimately, the cause of all brokenness, it hits especially hard when such sin is on display in the life of someone called to serve and lead a local church.
Godly anger is another proper response. Sin causes lives, families, churches, communities, and, yes, even denominations to be shattered. There are times when we encounter sin in such a way that leads us to cry out in anger.
However, as I try to process all that we’ve seen in our nation over the past few weeks, I’ve been led to times of deep personal reflection. The reality is that none of us is immune to sin. The writer of Hebrews knew this, and he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write: “For this reason, we must pay attention all the more to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away.” (Hebrews 2:1 CSB)
Pastor, you are not immune to drift. In fact, as all of us have experienced at one time or another, we can easily drift to the point where we only pick up the Bible to study for a sermon, rather than reading it so we may be transformed. We may realize at times that we are only praying when we lead the congregation in prayer.
Let me plead with you to not make this mistake. Spend time in the Word and in prayer for your own soul. Gather other pastors around you who can speak into your life and with whom you can share the deep struggles of sin and the pressures of ministry.
Ministry — and particularly the work of replanting — is difficult work. It’s emotionally draining. But it is, above all, a spiritual work. And we have an adversary who wants nothing more than to destroy your family, your church, and even your very life.
Pastor, be wary of drift. Follow Jesus closely. Love your wife and your children well. Lean on brothers in ministry.
If you do not have someone in your life on whom you can call, please make use of the Pastor Care Line, a free, dedicated, and confidential resource for you. You can reach them at 1-844-PASTOR1.,