He preached for a large congregation and became quite popular as a minister. Then there was an affair, followed by a second affair. He and his wife divorced. He moved away and began working in a business. For many years, subsequent chapters to this story only seemed to get worse. Eventually, however, this man’s life completely turned around and his walk with God was alive and fresh again.
Now, several decades later, I was having lunch with this man. I was a young minister and was eager to learn what I could. He told me that his mistakes and sins were rooted in his own ego.
“People were telling me how great I was. The church was growing and good things were happening. Yet, that also meant that I had to work even harder to keep up the pace. I began to feel entitled.”
I appreciated my new friend’s candor. He was really trying to help me.
That was about 25 years ago. However, I have not forgotten this man’s story.
Far too many people become intoxicated by other’s adulation. It is pretty intoxicating to hear others refer to you as “the man” or a “hot ticket.” A person can listen to this and take an immoral detour that does unbelievable damage.
Too many people live out of their own deep sense of insecurity
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and consequently seemed determined to take advantage of anything which seems to communicate that they are worthwhile.
- A man remembers the days when he was overweight and chubby. Now, years later, he is slim, well dressed, and attractive. He has quite the reputation for being a flirt at work.
- A woman remembers when she experienced lots of rejection and loneliness as a teenager. Now, years later, she has a high level job in a corporation but has problems saying “no” to any request that comes her way.
- A preacher grew up in a small community and never felt like he was worth very much. Now, years later, he is preaching for a large church in a metropolitan area and feels a heightened sense of self-importance.
- A young minister always felt like he was on the outside looking in when he was in high school. He remembers being very frustrated by not being in the small popular crowd in his school. Now, years later, he is determined to somehow become a popular successful minister, regardless of the cost.
Three Suggestions for Staying Sane and Moral
1. Remember your calling. Ministry is not about your career or your reputation. Rather, ministry comes from a call of God. Would you continue to serve as a ministry if no one knew who you were?
2. Stay connected with people who love you for who you are and not for what you do. Stay connected with people who feel free to speak into your life even when they say what you don’t want to hear. Look for people who will not be easily conned by you.
3. Consider what kind of person whom you will be in five years, if you continue down the path you are traveling. Is this who you want to be?
What have you observed? Why do some ministers and other church leaders sometimes experience “train wrecks” with their lives?