Pastors, like any person, sin. While this may be surprising for some people as they put their pastors and their wives on a pedestal, it is true.
Because of the nature of being a pastor and the life they live, their sins are often not obvious and ones that no one will ever know about. In fact, some of the most hurtful and dangerous sins are ones that a church and elders can unknowingly encourage.
These sins are not in any particular order, just the order I wrote them in.
The first one is: Your Bible is for more than sermon prep.
Most pastors spend the majority of their week in their Bible working on a sermon. There is a debate among pastors as to whether that should count as their devotions or if they should separate their devotions from sermon prep.
For me, my devotions are tied into my sermon prep. Right now, I am preaching through John. As I work on each sermon, I spend the first part of my week simply meditating on the passage I’ll be preaching from. This allows the text to become personal and work on my heart so my sermon becomes an overflow of what God is doing in me.
Because of planning ahead, I also use my devotional time to research future sermon topics and let different books of the Bible speak to me.
For example, a few years ago, I was going to do a series on Habakkuk, but on vacation really felt like I needed to read through 1 and 2 Peter every day while we were away. I had no idea why, just a sense that I needed to dive into these books. Through those readings, we changed our sermon calendar and I ended up preaching through those books.
Often though, pastors will use the reasoning that so much of their job and life is spent in the Bible. “I spend so much time on my sermon that I don’t need to spend time alone with Jesus.” I’ve never had a pastor tell me this, but it runs through many pastors’ heads.
What happens then is they preach from a dry heart, from a place that is not meeting with Jesus.
They spend so much time discipling other people that they aren’t feeding themselves. They don’t read books outside the Bible that challenge their thinking or bring conviction to their life.
As long as sermons are helpful, no one will notice this sin.
Pastors can fly under the radar for years on this and their elders, wife and church will have a hard time knowing.
Over time, it will become obvious that a pastor is working from past time with God, meaning, they are running off the fumes of years past. Because pastors often move from churches and job to job, people aren’t able to notice that he is preaching old sermons or using the same stories.
How do you know if this is happening?
Here are a few ways:
If a pastor has no new illustrations of God’s grace in his life.
The pastor does not talk about being pushed out of his comfort zone.
He has no conversations with unchurched neighbors.
He is not praying big prayers for the Holy Spirit to move.
His heart does not break for his people and those who do not know Jesus.