“Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.” – Proverbs 22:1
Pastors are (or should be) in the integrity business.
I get paid to teach, preach, counsel, lead, inspire…and have good character.
I understand that pastors are people and that people are pretty effed up. I get that. I do. I am so not the judgmental, holier than thou dude around the corner. I love people with an open heart full of grace.
Integrity, though, for a pastor is like money for a banker. You can’t steal it and lie about it. You can’t stomp all over it. You can’t fake like you’ve treated it well when you haven’t.
I know an investor that acted that way with money. His name is Bernie Madoff. He’s in jail. His son just committed suicide. Thousands of peoples lives have been made miserable by the way he treated money.
A pastor must treat integrity with extreme care. It must be guarded like it’s worth a billion dollars. I am not saying that living your entire life without a lapse in your integrity is going to be easy, but it is possible. Doggone! I have to hope it’s possible.
I have always believed that it is possible for a pastor to maintain a life of integrity, but I must admit that it has gotten harder for me to believe this in the past few years and it appears that it is harder for you to believe it as well.
- Two Senior Pastors here in Atlanta that were my personal friends resigned from their churches in the past two years after admitting to having affairs with married staff members of their churches. Thousands of people have been devastated by this.
- I recently took a very hard stand when learning that my own former pastor of seven years was molesting teenage boys in the church. This has rocked my world on so many levels.
- Two other very successful pastors that I have greatly admired across the past 10 years recently admitted to extreme sexual relationships with people other than their spouse.
Can I be all the way real with you for a minute?
I want to be successful. I want Courageous Church to grow in size and depth and reach. I want to do good around the world on a huge scale. I want those things.
However, if I end up as an award-winning, ultra-successful, great church pastoring, world-changing guy that ruins my integrity, loses my family, and more – I can say today that I will have failed.
When my wife and I discussed this last night I told her that I was starting to wonder if guys that had real sexual problems were more likely to be pastors. Sounds crazy. Her response was that it appears simply that pastors are just doing all of the same insane stuff that non-pastors are doing. She’s right.
I just want to believe it can better. Thank all of you for continuing to give you a chance to lead and serve.