Written by Evi Idoghor, Creator of Letstalknationblog.com
A few weeks ago, it was reported that a prominent pastor in one of the most popular ministries in the world indulged in an extra-marital affair. His mistress shared in an interview that initially she was oblivious as to who he was, and as such didn’t know he was married until she found out. But still, the relationship which was sexual in nature, carried on for weeks until the beloved pastor’s wife found out when messages to his mobile phone popped up on his computer screen and she happened to be in front of the computer and became privy to what had been happening.
His church immediately asked him to step down and relieved him of his duty as lead pastor of the church; a role he held for several years. He then issued a statement on social media apologizing for his behavior, with the hopes of beginning a journey of reconciliation with his family.
Now, when this news broke, many alleged that he was only being apologetic because he was caught with his hands in the cookie jar. Today's article is not to dive into the intricate details of this pastor’s failings in particular, but rather to have a conversation around this issue that has been plaguing the church, and still continues to plague to church.
To be a pastor or not to be a pastor
2020 has indeed been a year of revelation for many people, organizations, and governing bodies. With bizarre stories emerging every day about cheating scandals and sexual abuse allegations; the church has not been exempt from the party. For many years, mostly men have been accused of stepping out on their wives to carry out illicit affairs, thus, giving the church a bad name. Some women accused men of God to have raped them, whilst in the catholic setting it has been an on-going narrative for years on end - priests molesting young boys.
Embracing the role of a leader in the Body of Christ is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Titus 1 lists characteristics men need to possess who want to become bishops in the church in order to be considered for such a role. Things like being married to one wife, and not being an alcoholic are some of the expectations God places on men who want to be leaders in His house according to this scripture.
Also, it is written that teachers of the word are even more prone to a stricter judgment from God. And it is even advised that you shouldn’t desire such a position because (in other words) God holds you to a much higher standard than the rest.
“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” —James 3:1 (NKJV)
I think that if God hasn’t called you to become a pastor, teacher, or leader in the church, then it shouldn’t be something you just choose to do for the sake of it, or because many people say you are a good communicator and possess a lot of knowledge on the Bible, hence you should become a pastor - I think not. Especially now when everyone is quick to start churches for whatever reason. If you are not ready to deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Him, then you cannot be in this position. (Luke 9:23)
This pastor in question is not the only one who has been exposed for infidelity this year. Such failures within the church is as a result of a lot of people doing God’s work but not truly walking with Him. The Bible says in Galatians 5:16, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
The Truth about Sexual Sin
Sexual sin doesn’t just happen; you don’t go outside your house in the morning, stretch your hands, yawn, and sleep with someone. It’s not happenstance when it comes to sexual sin/sexual immorality, rather, intentionality.
It is something that has been built, coerced, tended to, and taken care of over time. And when the opportunity finally presents itself for you to act on what has been happening internally, then most likely you will follow through with it.
“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”—James 1:13-15 (NKJV)
According to this scripture, a lot of flirting with sin and lust must have been taking place over a period of time, before we all see the damning effects. What we watch as Christians, listen to, entertain, read and fantasize about, form our ideologies about sex (good or bad). Thus, we have to be mindful, especially when we are in positions of leadership.
Many were also upset that the pastor’s mistress came out to speak on their relationship. However, I wasn’t mad at her at all. She has every right to speak on the issue; after all, it is also her story. We have to realize that we are given free rein to do as we please, but not to choose the consequences of our choices or actions. There are certain terrains that present dire consequences and if you choose to venture out there, then you are also choosing the dire consequences that are attached to your choices. It comes with the territory.
I watched an analysis of the issue where some people questioned why the pastor was asked to step down. They stated—after all he is a human being, and we all make mistakes that should be forgiven. I agree that we all make mistakes and should be forgiven. However, there are consequences for our choices and forgiveness isn’t devoid of those.
There were consequences to David’s choice to sleep with his friend’s wife, try to pin the pregnancy on him, and murder him. We often forget what David and his household went through because of his sinful choice to have sex with another man’s wife - rather we are quick to remind everyone that even if he committed all those atrocities, he was still a man God loved.
Yes, God loved him but did not wave the consequences of his actions. If we keep treating the Body of Christ, with an attitude of anything goes, because there is forgiveness readily available, then no one will be held accountable for their actions, thus, leaving a trail of broken people behind. The church's decision to let go of this pastor, isn’t one absent of love or forgiveness. It is necessary he takes the time off to sort out whatever issues he has within himself, in his marriage, as well as his relationship with God.
How can leaders overcome sexual immorality:
1. Accountability—pastors shouldn’t be put on such high pedestals that they can’t even be corrected or spoken to. Paul called out Peter when he was being hypocritical with his actions (Galatians 2:11). Pastors should have people that they are answerable to, and those people need to take the job seriously.
2. Walk in the Spirit—as already aforementioned, you cannot do God’s work outside of God. If you are working for the Master, then you have to check in with Him as you go along each day. If He tries to warn you about your destructive behavior, then you must listen to Him. The role of pastor for many comes with a celebrity type status and they are often carried away by this newfound fame. Best seats at conferences, security, designer clothes and cars, private jets, hefty honorariums, interviews on extravagant platforms, etc. They show up to all the places they are invited to give their “God-talk” and move on to the next, thinking—I’ve got this God thing on lockdown, I am living my best life!
These are not the reasons why God called you to lead His people. There are many instances in the gospels when Christ mentioned that if He didn’t leave a certain region, then they would make Him their king. Although He was and still is a King in every right, at the time that was not His mission, to be crowned king here on earth.
So, when ministers, pastors, bishops, and the likes, allow the praises of people to get to their heads that is when they start to misbehave and push God to the back burner. Remember, you cannot do God’s work without God.
3. Boundaries—this is also an important step. Boundaries are put in place to protect us from harm; even harm that we can do to ourselves. Pastors should not counsel a member of the opposite sex or a minor, without a third party present of the same sex as the person being counseled. When I go to the doctor’s office, especially for sensitive check-ups, a female nurse is always present regardless of if my doctor is male or female. This practice should be adopted into the church.
Also, if as a pastor, you know being on social media can cause you to fall easily then you have no business being on the platform. Most churches have official pages; let all messages for help be directed to such pages and vetted. No one can control what comes into your direct messages, and what others post. If curating your timeline isn’t good enough to keep you from sinning, then stay away from social media completely - delete the apps.
Your soul is far more important to God than the number of followers you can garner for yourself. When you fall, the same people who sang your praises would be the same who will be the first to pick up stones to throw at you.
4. Focus—there are many things that are designed for us to lose focus. Social media is one of them. I see some pastors with millions of followers online. This can cause them to lose sight as to why they began that role in the first place. Some of them start living their life ‘for the gram,’ they throw out a couple of tweets and inspirational posts for their followers to latch on to, together with their fancy vacations.
If there is anyone we should emulate when it comes to working for God, is Christ. Jesus was so focused and about His Father’s business that when people even asked Him to judge trivial matters, He replied with—who made me arbitrator over you? When they said to Him, “your mother and brothers are at the door looking for you,” He said, anyone who does the will of my Father is my mother, my brother, and sister. He had one goal and one goal only in mind, which was to reconcile humanity back to God through his teachings and eventual sacrifice. And He was focused on that goal.
Lack of focus will drive you to neglect the original goal of why you began a journey in the first place. That is why oftentimes when you see a pastor that you followed their ministry in the early stages and compare their messages to what it is now, some of them are far removed from what they used to teach about. In fact, some abandon the faith altogether. This is usually due to lack of focus, and lack of communing daily with the Father.
Head knowledge, charm, charisma, swagger (you can tell I'm so millennial) and the likes, can carry you for so long - but it is only a matter of time before you come crashing down if you exclude God from doing God's work.
"For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." Phillippians 2:13 (NKJV)
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