I was not planning on posting a message this evening. However, I was reading the news on Google and this headline popped up:
Waterbury Priest Stole $1.3 Million for Male Escorts and More, Say Cops (July 6, 2010)
The old proverb is true again, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
How would you like to be a member of this church today? How betrayed would you feel? What questions would be running through your mind? How would your perspective on church, Christianity and even God be affected?
It’s true that our eyes should be on Jesus, for He is the author and finisher of our faith, but we should also be able to demand integrity from the pulpit.
Thankfully there are many more men and women of God doing things correctly than there are incorrectly. One of our main subjects of prayer should be our pastor and church leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2). If we do not hold these men and women up in prayer, we cannot expect anyone else to do so.
Please pray for your pastor and church leaders each day. Pray that God would reveal Himself to them. Pray that they would have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. Pray that they would have boldness to speak the message that God lays on their hearts. Pray for their families, their marriages and their health. Bind and rebuke the attack of the adversary against their life, family and ministry. Pray that the gifts of the Holy Spirit would be manifested in their life and that miracles, signs and wonders would be done in Jesus’ mighty name. Paul said it this way:
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:19-20)
So – as always, please read what I write, not what I did not write.
- Christians should be holding up spiritual leaders in prayer
- If the devil is after anyone at your church, it’s probably your pastor
- Ministers need to have integrity, both morally and spiritually
Who is standing in your pulpit?
I pray they are a man or woman on God that has sold out and surrendered all to the Lord Jesus. I pray that they are filled with the Holy Ghost and are moving under His unction and power. I pray that they have wisdom from heaven and a deep knowledge of God and His word. I pray that they live a holy life, keeping themselves separated from the sin of this world. I pray that they walk worthy of the office the Lord has set them in. Hallelujah and Amen!
What if they don’t?
This Catholic priest was not the first pastor to have gross sin in his life while ministering to the people of God on a weekly basis. Sexual sin, misappropriation of funds and other crimes have been committed by church leadership in the Catholic, Protestant, Mainline Denominations and Non-Denominational churches. I have no interest in naming names. Names are already running through your mind.
I have personally seen music ministers and pastors fall; causing great devastation to the body of Christ. I have been a guest minister at a church where the Lord has given me a word while speaking that the pastor is involved in sin (that was an interesting service).
If there is sin in the leadership, the leader needs to be removed from leadership. Period!
- What about grace?
- What about repentance?
- What about restoration?
I’m so glad you asked. Let’s look at the scripture:
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. (Galatians 6:1-3)
It is my firm belief from reading the scripture that the restoration that must take place is to the fallen person’s relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is far more important for a fallen minister to repent and return to Christ than it is for them to return to a pulpit. We must always be more interested in the soul of a person than in the gift or talent upon their life.
Is it possible for a person to be returned to active ministry after they have fallen in a public manner?
That will depend on several factors:
- What was the sin?
- God forgives all things
- Man remembers all things
- Depending on the severity of the sin it may or may not be possible to return to active ministry
- How vast was the corruption or deceit?
- Many times people are able to return to ministry, but at a lower level of responsibility
- What was the impact on the body of Christ?
- What is different now?
Many have returned to ministry after 2-3 years away from the pulpit. Many in fact return to have a greater ministry than they did before. Our God is a redeemer and a restorer; forever married to the backslider. Some never return to ministry and some completely fall away from the faith.
I am not the pulpit police, nor do I want to be. I do, however, believe that preaching is one of the highest callings the Lord can lay upon your life. As a result of the position that this duty gives you in the life of men, women and children the responsibility and accountability that must be laid upon your life is higher than it is upon the church member.
Pastors, Preachers, Evangelists, Prophets, Etc. – read these familiar verses with me:
This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be an elder, he desires an honorable position.” So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?
An elder must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall. Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap. (1 Timothy 3:1-7)
I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you. An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. For an elder must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money.
Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong. (Titus 1:5-9)
And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor. (1 Peter 5:1-4)
And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
That last one is the one that really stands out among the rest for me. Christians want to be able to look at their pastor or church leader and know how to be a Christian. This is one of the heaviest responsibilities of Christian leadership. Like it or not, Christians look to their leaders for an example of how they should:
- Raise their children
I truly hope this message is completely irrelevant for your church. I want to believe that your pastor is awesome, on fire for God and walking the straight and narrow.
If they are not; Fear Not!
Jesus said we could identify false prophets and teachers by their fruit. Everything may look good on the outside but if what is being produced in their life and ministry tells a different story you may have your answer. This is not permission for you to fall into sin by starting your own ministry of suspicion. Your first act should always be to take their name to the Father and pray.
If things in your church are not operating biblically you have two choices:
- If the leader changes the body will follow
- If the leader does not things will remain the same or worsen
- I heard a preacher once say, “leave that dead thing and find someplace else”.
- There is no shame in leaving a place that does not preach or obey the scripture
Everything should be done with love and grace. You should never end a relationship that does not leave the possibility of redemption and restoration on the table. The ultimate goal is the salvation of the soul.
Conclusion – who is standing in the pulpit?
Do not be a blind sheep that accepts whatever comes across a microphone. Study the word. Pray. Witness your faith. Give to support the kingdom of God. Have your own relationship with God that stands solid. Your pastor is not your connection to heaven. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit and your pastor is here is help equip you to fulfill the call of God upon your life.
Does this mean you should be suspicious of your pastor? No! This means you should be in partnership with your pastor to bring Kingdom of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. You are accountable to the pastor just as the pastor is accountable to the body and we are all accountable to the Father.
- Make sure your life is lived in a way that you could repeat 1 Corinthians 11:1 to other believers
- Pray for your pastor and church leaders daily
- Take the Biblical approach to everything!
And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)