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Pastors Are Tempted by These 7 DEADLY Diseases of Pastoral Ministry

5. Pastors Can Be Tempted by the Justification-by-fruit Syndrome.

How often to you check the numbers? Keep track for the next few weeks — you might be surprised.

If you’re a compulsive number tracker, I can guarantee you suffer from justification-by-fruit syndrome. “If God uses me in big ways (ways that make me admirable by others’ standards), I must be ‘good.’ If he doesn’t, I’m being ‘bad.’”

While it’s not wrong to have numbers available, and even to take a cold, hard look at the facts, is there really a good reason to look at the numbers every week? I don’t think so. We can’t continue to preach justification by Jesus while practicing justification by accounting!

6. Pastors Can Be Tempted by the Military Syndrome.

It’s amazingly easy to justify neglecting our vital ministry to our families in the name of “front-line” battles for Jesus.

Because we conflate ministry and spirituality, it’s much easier to get away with family neglect as a pastor than in any other profession — in fact, we’ll probably be cheered on!

But one of the core qualifications for elders and deacons is the proper care of our families (1 Tim. 3:5). This doesn’t mean that family life won’t look different as a pastor — it will look dramatically different. But as soon as we cease deep, loving, Jesus-like care for our households in the name of “ministry,” we’ve lost sight of the gospel.

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Nicholas McDonald is husband to lovely Brenna, father to Owen and Caleb, M.Div student at Gordon Conwell Theological seminary and youth/assistant teaching pastor at Carlisle Congregational Church. He graduated with his Bachelors in Communication from Olivet Nazarene University, studied literature and creative writing at Oxford University, and has spoken internationally at camps, youth retreats, graduations, etc. He blogs about writing, preaching and the arts at www.Scribblepreach.com, which has been featured on The Gospel Coalition, Knowlovelive.org and Challies.com. He currently resides in South Hamilton, MA.