I was in the middle of small group when I got the barrage of text messages. People that I knew from several different places were trying to get a hold of me. Their pastor had been fired for a moral failure. They felt betrayed. They were confused. They didn’t know where to turn so they turned to me. In the hour ahead, as I was glued to my phone for most of small group that night I too learned the details of this pastor’s failure as the church released a public statement. My friend, a co-laborer in my city, a mentor of sorts had fallen. In that moment and in the days to come there were more questions than there were answers.
But as we were closing up small group that night, I shared the news with the 10 guys that sat on old couches and the cold concrete floor in my unfinished basement, our wives sitting just above us in the living room. And I did one of the most important things a planter can ever do. I gave them permission. I gave them permission to peer and to poke and to prod as deeply into my life as they wanted. I told them I needed it. I needed to be known.
You see, it wasn’t because this man was the pastor of a mega-church that he failed. (Though that very well may be a contributing factor). It was because he wasn’t known. Isolation, the creation of an online and on-stage persona, and a distancing from honest, accountability was where it all began. Let’s be perfectly clear: it isn’t just the big names with the big stages and the big opportunities who are vulnerable. Every single one of us is vulnerable.
Let’s be perfectly clear: it isn’t just the big names with the big stages and the big opportunities who are vulnerable. Every single one of us is vulnerable.
In 1 Peter 5:8, having just addressed elders in the church specifically, Peter says, “Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Again, let’s be clear: Church planter, the devil is your adversary prowling around seeking out someone to destroy. Who is this “someone” he is able to devour? Peter tells us in verses 6-8.
Satan is coming after those who think more highly of themselves than they ought to, those who are seeking their own glory, their own stage, those who love their own voice more than God’s. God tells us, therefore, to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.
Satan is coming after those in anxious situations. In the midst of worry, struggle, and emotionally trying circumstances God’s remedy is for us cast our anxieties on him, because of His good care for us.
Satan is coming after those who think more highly of themselves than they ought to, those who are seeking their own glory, their own stage, those who love their own voice more than God’s.
THE INTERNAL IDEALIST
Satan is coming after those who think: “That could never be me.” Much like pride, internal idealism is unable to see the dark nature of the flesh and the vulnerability that we all face. God’s command is for us to be sober-minded.
THE EXTERNAL IDEALIST
Finally, Satan is coming after the external idealist. This person, instead of ignoring the darkness of their own heart, ignores the power of the enemy and the world around him, making him even more vulnerable to the schemes of Satan. To combat this, God tells us to be watchful.
All of these situations can and will lead us into isolation if we aren’t careful. Satan wants to use all of these and more to drag us into isolation so he can pick us off one by one. So what do we do? Resist him, firm in the faith. And then Peter gives us three things in verses 9-11 that I believe make for a perfect acronym. When the devil comes to “hit” us, we “hit” back.
H – HONESTY
We have to be honest with ourselves and with others that we are suffering. We have to confess knowing we aren’t special people who aren’t vulnerable but that we, like every other human being struggle, are tempted and need help.
We have to confess knowing we aren’t special people who aren’t vulnerable but that we, like every other human being struggle, are tempted and need help.
I – INTENTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS
Peter tells us that our suffering is common to “the brotherhood” throughout the world. Therefore, we need to intentionally build a brotherhood with other men who aren’t just fans but are truly friends. We need others who we can be honest with and who will pursue honesty from us, hold us accountable and watch our blind spots.
T – TRAINING
We are to be people who are practicing the spiritual disciplines. These disciplines are vehicles that grow us up in who Peter calls “The God of all grace.” And through these disciplines Christ himself will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us.
Published May 17, 2016