In last week’s blog post, I talked about the first three of seven ways we as ministers of the gospel can avoid being disqualified from ministry. Now, let’s look at the last four:
Set personal boundaries and follow them
Vice President Mike Pence was recently mocked and scolded by the media for practicing what has been called the “Billy Graham Rule.” This rule refers to Billy Graham’s practice of not being alone in a room with any woman other than his wife. The media can mock if they wish, but do you know who has never been accused of committing adultery? Billy Graham. And as far as we know, neither has Mike Pence. It is wise to have personal guardrails for yourself that will assist you in remaining pure, such as an Internet accountability system, windows in your office for counseling sessions, and practicing the Billy Graham Rule. The apostle also admonishes us to “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom. 13:14).
Have accountability in everything
Every pastor needs someone to hold him accountable in his spiritual life, his personal life and his work life. One way a pastor can have accountability in his spiritual and personal life is to be part of a Discipleship Group. We are exhorted, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock” (Acts 20:28). If a pastor truly wants to avoid falling from ministry, he should welcome transparency. There should be no mystery as to how a pastor is using his work time or the church’s money. In addition to business and council meetings, meet regularly with your staff, deacons, personnel committee and finance committee, and be open and honest about your work. Accountability will safeguard you and it will increase trust from those with whom you serve.
Take control of your choices
We are living in a strange time right now in our culture where “victimhood mentality” is rampant and people are blaming everyone else for their problems and poor choices. To put it more bluntly, we are living in an age of wimps who can’t man up and take responsibility for their own actions. Pastor, don’t lie to yourself that you are a victim to this culture, to your sinful desires or to the behaviors of others. The only one responsible for your sinful choices is you. We are dead to sin and sin has no dominion over us (Rom. 6:11-14). Drop the victimhood mentality and put on the victor mentality of Paul who said, “I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:26-27).
Pursue satisfaction in Christ alone
What is the real, underlying issue that is causing pastors to fall? What makes a pastor commit adultery? What makes him embezzle the church’s money? What makes him resort to alcohol? What leads him away from sound doctrine? At some point in his ministry, the appeal of sin surpassed his affection for Christ. His preference of sin over Jesus started small and built gradually until it spiraled out of control. Perseverance in holiness and in doctrinal integrity eventually lost its charm. Fight this, brothers. Remind yourself daily of the treasure that Christ is to you and look daily to the reward that is before you as you run this race. Keep the faith because as Paul said, “there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).
I pray that we have seen the last pastor fall from ministry. It certainly does not have to be you. I hope these encouragements are helpful reminders to you as you seek to be a faithful minister of God’s word. Remember, a lifetime of faithfulness starts with one day—let today be that day.
This article originally appeared here.