While speaking to a class of seminary students and their wives, I shared Dave Carder’s statistic that 40% of them would have an affair sometime during their ministerial career. One student raised his hand and said, “Surely with the quality of our training we’ll beat that statistic”. “You’re right”, I replied, “With that attitude you’ll probably be closer to 50 or 60%”. The class went silent.
Why do those in ministry fail? Is it a lack of training? Is it spiritual attack? Is it because we are weak?
The reason we fail is because it’s what we need. The goal of the Christian life isn’t self-improvement; rather it’s self re-movement. It’s not about strength; it’s about weakness. I have never seen one person fail because they were weak; we only fall because we place ourselves in circumstances that we think we can handle. As Jesus’s disciples we are only as weak as our strongest point. We will only fail at the point where we believe we are capable. We forget Jesus words in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. “
If you think about it, what good would it do God if any of us ever got it right? Would it make us nearer to God or would it to cause us to drift into self-sufficiency and judgmentalism? Our goal isn’t to be better or to be successful; our goal is Christ and Christ alone. If we begin to live for anything else, God graciously allows us to fail in order to draw us back to him. When we can expect that apart from him failure is as good as we get, then we begin to see the world through a different lens, and take a different approach in our walk with the Lord.
Here are some tips:
Stay in healthy relationships with peers:
1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his son, purifies us from all sin.”
Far too often ministers are isolated and lack safe people to share with. Meeting on a regular basis with a safe group of peers who are like you, where you can share your deepest thoughts and fears, is imperative. It’s not about sharing our failures or successes, but rather sharing our actual thoughts and feelings that run through our mind and heart. If I don’t expose myself to others and bring my thought life into the light, it’s far too easy to live in my own self-deception. But exposing temptations to the light shatters the power of darkness and brings me into fellowship with my brothers. I have to remember that the parts of the story that remain untold will always be the devil’s stronghold.
Fight the right battle:
John 3:19 This is the verdict: “light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed, but whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
We are not fighting a battle of good and evil, rather we fight a battle of who gets the glory. I believe the most heinous sin I commit is robbing God of glory. Whenever I pretend to be better than I actually am (by managing my image), my actions show that I hate the light because I am afraid I’ll be exposed. But when I can fully expose how I am and what I’ve done to a few safe people, I reveal the magnitude of God’s grace, love and mercy in my life. It’s only against the backdrop of my life that the magnificence of God’s love is exposed. I’ve got to stop being good, and let it be about Christ and Christ alone.