Perils in Pastoral Ministry - Part 3
This is my third and last installment on the perils or dangers in pastoral ministry. In my first post, I discussed about the first three dangers, namely, recline (laziness), shine (pride), and whine (grumbling).
In my second installment, I pointed out the peril of sidetracks or substitutes. In that post, I mentioned about common distractions in a pastor's life.
The first substitute is politics and social concern. The temptation for pastors to be overly involved in political and civil affairs at the expense of their primary tasks, which are prayers and the ministry of the word, has the potential to weaken their gospel ministry.
The second distraction is all about negativism. This has something to do with the minister's tendency to focus on the negative aspects of anything. The pastor is consumed by his strong convictions about sins and all kinds of problems in the society or the world that he has less time in proclaiming the wondrous works of God in Christ and the glorious character of God.
The third diversion in a pastor's ministry is the use of pragmatic techniques and worldly ways. The pastor thinks that gimmickry, trying the latest craze, giving quick-fix and easy answers to the problems in church will advance the work of God.
These are the first four temptations for pastors and those who serve the Lord in the church.
I'd like to address now the fifth peril in the ministry of the Lord's servant. This is the temptation of covetousness, especially in terms of money and success.
Pastors who want to portray an image of successful ministry constantly have to deal with this temptation. They want to become another success story or their church to be at the forefront of kingdom work.
These ministers labor hard with almost no time to sleep or rest, no time to have meaningful interactions with their family. They are after more money, more giving, more programs, more members, and bigger buildings or church outreaches. More for them is success.
Pastors (and their families) who live beyond their means also fall easily into this temptation. And those who have uncontented or greedy wives and have many children to feed or support may also feel the danger of covetousness.
The sixth temptation is related to covetousness. It's the danger of jealousy.
As a pastor, I always feel this temptation to compare myself with other pastors. When I see that my fellow pastors' ministries are getting more success (more members, bigger church buildings, higher salary and more benefits, more invitations to speak outside the church), I got jealous. I have the tendency to keep up with them or to find fault in them.
However, I realize that my calling and my situation are different from other pastors. The Lord has called some of them to a bigger church and their circumstances in life and ministry are different from mine. When I realized this, I began to accept what the Lord has given me and I became grateful and contented with the situation the Lord has put me in.
Finally, the peril of lust. Sex is said to be the greatest temptation among pastors. And this temptation comes from within, and it could be through a beautiful lady in the congregation, another man's wife, or pornography.
Many pastors and missionaries have fallen and have been disqualified in this area. Many have destroyed their ministry due to obsession to sexual lust.
All of us, especially pastors, should be aware that this temptation is very potent. We have to admit that we are vulnerable to this danger. We need to realize that this temptation starts in our hearts.
Let me offer these few advises to my fellow pastors who are facing this peril. I have learned over the years that pastors should be circumspect in counseling women. We do not and ought not visit women in their home, even when children are around. Avoid at all cost privacy with another woman.
If you're struggling with sexual sin, don't be a one-man army. Fight pornography or homosexuality with other trusted people, including your wife if you are married. Tell them about your weakness and ask them to pray for you constantly. Be sober and constantly be in prayer. Avoid idleness; it breeds another sin.
I know there are other temptations or perils in the ministry that we could add or mention, but I think these seven are more common: laziness, pride, grumbling, sidetracks or substitutes, covetousness, jealousy, and lust.