Guest Post by Kyle Preston
Centerpoint Church Murrieta
I’ve got a challenge for you…
This week, when your youth ministry meets, as the worship is kicking off (or whenever you don’t have responsibilities for a minute), sneak to the back by yourself and silently look out over your students. Now, here’s the challenge: I want you to imagine the damage that would be done to individual people if you had to leave your post because of sexual sin.
First: Focus on that student you personally disciple…imagine how deeply wounded they would be when they heard the news
Then: Focus on a few of your volunteer leaders…they probably are following you assuming you follow Christ (1 Cor 11:1). Know that some of their faith will unravel and possibly not recover when they find out.
Finally: Focus on a visitor, a new student, parent or possible volunteer you haven’t met yet. Imagine, their first time at your ministry is the same week it gets announced that been fired. Would they say “Man…all pastors are hypocrites!”? Your sin could damage the faith of those whose name you’ll never know!
IT COULD BE YOU!
Think you could never fall sexually? I bet every pastor has thought that, including my best friend, who, as I described in my last post, had to leave my ministry due to cheating on his 9 month pregnant wife.
BUT…SPOILER ALERT!!! This CAN happen to you! Each of us are just a few compromises away from damaging SO MANY PEOPLE, some who’s name you might never know and the damage you have caused.
You probably glossed over the key word in that last paragraph: Compromise! Compromise is THE reason for pastor’s failure. Notice, I didn’t say that compromise is the biggest reason. That’s because compromise is the ONLY reason! Usually, the compromise is in soul care, boundaries, or the slippery slope of sin.
I know, I know, you get this drilled into your head in every blog post you read, every conference you go to, and every sermon you listen to. You’re sick of hearing it!
TOO BAD! It’s my guess that, even though you’ve heard about it ad nausum, preached on it, and said to yourself “I’ve got to take better care of my soul”….you probably haven’t done anything about it! Studies show that pastors are really good at caring for the soul of others, but not so good at caring for their own (ie Check out some studies done by the Center for Vocational Ministry at Azusa Pacific Ministry for more info on the personal dangers of vocational ministry).
So, if you want to GET SERIOUS about tending to your soul, here are some techniques that worked for me. They aren’t rocket science, but they do require discipline:
- Make a date with God…and keep it.
I’m sure you’ve preach this to your students, but honestly, Do you do it???? My guess, if DYM did an online poll on what percentage of youth pastors and leaders have a consistent time with God, the results would be shocking!
Case in point, my friend that had the affair. After he confessed the affair, also confessed that his soul had been dry for over a year. He gradually stopped spending tome in the Word and in prayer. It caused him to dry out spiritually, which caused him to fall.
Let’s not be hypocrites! Let’s not allow compromise to slip into caring for our soul! I would strongly recommend:
Plan The Time- Sunday night, I plan out my calendar for my week. I like to plan my time with the Lord for 6am daily. (I’m an early bird…don’t judge me!). So, I have a daily notification on my Google Calendar that says “Time W/The Lord NO EXCUSES!”
Protect The Time-Imagine that you had a date with your spouse every Thursday night. It was set on the calendar, the babysitter was called, the restaurant reservations were made….it was KNOWN, every Thursday Night was DATE NIGHT! But, every Thursday night, you had to call your spouse because “something came up”. Do you think your spouse would be pleased that you were constantly breaking your date and prioritizing other people over your relationship?
You probably see my point: God probably isn’t pleased when we constantly cancel our plans with him. Just like the relationship with your spouse will be damaged by you neglecting the relationship, your relationship with God gets damaged when we constantly put the busyness of life in front of fostering our relationship with Him. This is why it is CRITICAL that, when you plan the date, you keep the date!
We’re often pretty good about “Planning the Time”. I believe youth workers and pastors have the best intentions. But, they often struggle with “Protecting the Time”, usually, it’s because we have a hard time with boundaries and saying no to people.
So, if you plan the time, protect the time! If I’ve planned my Time with the Lord, I protect that appointment! Nothing gets in the way. If someone wants to get breakfast at 6:30am…”Sorry, I’m unavailable that day” (Luckily, most people avoid morning meetings at 6:30 like they avoid Jehovah’s Witnesses at their door).
CREATE AND HONOR BOUNDARIES
No one gets up in the morning with a heathy, loving marriage and decides “TODAY, I’M GOING TO CHEAT ON MY SPOUSE.” In ministry, affairs don’t happen overnight, they happen with a simple act of compromise!
Compromise sounds like this:
- “This private texting between her and I is getting fun and flirty, but it’s not that big of a deal. She just gets me.”
- “It’s not a big deal for us to meet alone in my office after hours. I’m glad I can be there for her”
- She’s so great! I can tell her anything, especially how frustrated my wife is making me”
Anytime you hear yourself saying or thinking something like this, alarms blaring the word COMPROMISE should be going off!
This is why you have to create and honor personal boundaries. It might seem old fashioned, but I would much rather someone say “Man, why is Kyle so old fashioned” rather than “Man, I can’t believe Kyle committed that sin and lost his job/lost my respect/lost his witness for Jesus.
FIND SOMEONE YOU CAN BE BRUTALLY HONEST WITH
This one is CRITICAL! If you’re in life, you NEED to have someone that can ask you hard questions, someone that can see you slipping into compromise and call it out!
My accountability partner knows EVERYTHING about me! Lust, anger, pride, depression…he knows it all, and isn’t afraid to ask how I’m doing in these important areas! I’m able to be painfully transparent with him (and he with me). And, I’m certain that he has stopped me from compromise!
The five most dangerous words for a pastor are: “I can handle this myself.” NO, YOU CAN’T! And, we aren’t meant to! And if you can live transparently with others, create and honor boundaries, and prioritize real soul care, it will be nearly impossible for you to be the next fallen pastor who does irreparable damage to so many!