5 Dangerous Warning Signs for Pastors (and 5 Safeguards)

In the epic book and movie, Lord of the Rings, I’ve learned a great spiritual lesson that I pray will guide me and protect me and the people I lead at Transformation Church, including my precious wife and children.

In this epic story, Sméagol kills a friend for a special ring that had been made by the Dark Lord Sauron. This ring had the power to control all other rings.

As Sméagol embraces the ring and its cunning allure, he is transformed over time into the tortured, disfigured soul named Gollum.

Pastor, may we be ever so careful not to be deceived by the allure of the “ring” … power, control, fame, money.

When we allow the “ring” to seduce and deceive us, we become tortured, disfigured souls. We will find ourselves doing things that we would have never imagined we would do. 

We will get hurt.

Our families will get hurt.

The people we lead will get hurt.

And worst of all, the glory of God will be diminished in our lives.

Following are five signs that we are in danger of being allured by the “ring,” and five ways to guard your heart.

1. We are in danger when we surround ourselves with people who are impressed with us.

People who are impressed us with will rarely, if ever, tell us “No.” They will rarely, if ever, challenge us. In essence, our inner circle is formed by “Yes” men and women. As someone said, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

To guard my heart, God has blessed me with confident, capable leaders whom I can lead, be lead by, and who will tell me “No” and challenge me often.

2. We are in danger when we find we only have time to meet with people of influence or wealth.

In essence, we are saying, “I only have time for people who can influence and finance the vision.” This is a form of spiritual prostitution and very un-Jesus-like.

Don’t get me wrong, Jesus has called me to lead and serve a fast growing, large church. And as much as I’d like to, I simply can’t meet with everyone. That’s why we’ve developed the Transformation Church Care and Counseling Team of which I’m a part. Each month, I make sure my schedule has slots open for care and counsel to “whomever.”

I guard my heart by being accessible.

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Derwin Gray
Derwin L. Gray is the founding and Lead Pastor of Transformation Church (www.tc521.org), a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, mission-shaped community in Indian Land, South Carolina, just south of Charlotte, North Carolina. Transformation Church was recognized as one of the 15 fastest growing churches in America for 2010 by Outreach Magazine. Gray is the author of "Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God Holds Your Future" and is a highly sought-after communicator. Connect with Derwin on twitter @Derwinlgray.