We have all been devastated at the news of fallen pastors. Someone we loved and trusted disappointed us. They had a moral failure. They crossed boundaries they should never cross. They misled us. They injured the church.
The truth is pastors are held more responsible in the eyes of God for how we lead in the church. Pastors have authority (sometimes too much), power (often too much), and influence. And, influence can be used for good or for bad.
So, we should be disappointed when a pastor lets us down.
An equal truth, however, is pastors aren’t any more equipped at living a victorious Christian life than any other Christian. It’s all grace. It’s all a work of His Spirit. Apart from Him we can all do nothing. And, whenever we stop submitting my will to His will we fail. Every time.
I’m reminded in my own life that “Elijah was a man just like us” (James 5:17).
This will seem to be an excuse by some, but I actually think the undue pressure on pastors is one of the leading causes of pastor burnout, and, ultimately, complete failure. Pastors often live under unrealistic expectations. Granted, much of the pressure pastors face is self-induced. Pastors compare themselves to other pastors and their church to other churches. We self-critique what others are thinking about us. In fact, most pastors I know are prone to worry more about what others might be saying about us than what God has declared about us.
And, it’s not an excuse for moral failure. Sin should never be our response to external stress or pressure. All sin is a horrible offense to a Holy God. All of us have sinned and fall short of His glory. That’s the Gospel.
When another pastor falls, it always reminds me of the horribleness of sin. It also, though, causes me to look inward again at my own life. (And, that’s never a bad thing to do. “Search me God”, as David prayed.)
I’ve been disappointed by pastors too. In fact, I’ve been disappointed in myself while I was pastor. Thankfully, I was able to keep my ministry and reputation intact. Now my heart is to serve the greater church and its pastors and help us all achieve greater accountability and health.
So, let me share a few things to remember when a pastor disappoints you. Things that can help you keep your sanity and faith even when someone in ministry, whom you love and trusted, disappoints you.
7 reminders when a pastor disappoints you:
One person, working on behalf of self, can’t destroy the work of the Holy Spirit, working on behalf of God. This is huge to understand. A pastor may disappoint you, but that ultimately can’t destroy the work God began in you. If God spoke to you through the pastor’s teaching, if your life was challenged to grow or change, that truth should still prevail. God was working through one who falls under the “all have sinned” banner. You may be stunned for now, but you’ll grow back stronger if you continue to surrender to His will.
Pastors, and even a local church body, may fail. No local pastor or even church is guaranteed in God’s word as I read it. But, the church, Christ’s body, is here to stay. God WILL protect His church. The gates of Hell will not prevail over it.
People will deceive you—even some pastors. People will let you down, but God’s Word will never fail you. If you are extending ultimate trust to a human you will be continually disappointed in life—and, likely taken advantage of also.