The next couple of paragraphs may be hard to read and I promise you that they are equally hard for me to write but we have to admit that a major reason the church is so unhealthy is because its Pastors are sick. Even as I write those words my heart is broken because I love Pastors and I am one myself and I know how hard of a task we have in this day and age. But I also know my own heart and I have talked with enough Pastors to know that we have a serious crisis occurring across the church. As Pastors and church leaders we need to take a careful look at our own lives and make sure that we are fit to lead.
Not long ago I was having coffee with a Pastor friend of mine who showed me a picture of himself and three of his friends from seminary. He then went on to tell me that out all three of those friends ended up having to leave the ministry as the result of moral failures. We both sat there for the next hour sharing with each other the stories of men that we knew who had one time had heard the call of God on their lives to preach the gospel but at some point had ended up falling into sin. It would be easy to try to say that these men had never been converted or that they were simply wolves in sheep’s clothing, but the truth is much harder to deal with. In each case, we agreed that these were genuine believers, who loved God and wanted to serve the church but ended up falling into sin and lost their ministries. What happened to them is actually much simple and much scarier— they simply didn’t take care of their own spiritual heath and they slowly drifted into a heinous sin that ruined their family, cost them their ministry and destroyed the church they Pastored. But what is even scarier is that this is not the worst thing that can happen.
Over the years, I’ve seen Pastors who neglect their spiritual lives but instead of falling into some heinous sin they simply grow cold, uncaring, and cynical. They don’t wash out of the ministry, but instead keep on showing up week after week, with no life, no vitality, and no passion. Rather than being ministers of life, they’v become carriers of the deadly spiritual pathogen known as lethargy. These are Pastors who have not been caught up in such blatant and gross sins as sexual immorality or greed, but instead are plagued by a host of seemingly smaller, easier to disguise sins, that are equally as appalling to God as their more grandiose cousins, but far easier to justify and rationalize in the mind of the Pastor. Rather than ruining their life and ministry in one quick moment, this situation leads to a slow wasting away or rotting of ones life and ministry.
An unhealthy vessel will either bring rot or ruin to the local church, but there is another option— we could turn around and take the necessary steps to return to Spiritual health. Over the past couple of years, I have talked to many former Pastors whose lives and ministries were ruined by sin, but there have been others who upon recognizing their condition repented and came back to God. It wasn’t an easy path, but their lives have been turned around and they are now examples of God’s grace and mercy rather than of another Pastor who washed out of the ministry because of a moral failure. The question that I have to ask myself and you will have to ask yourself is, “Which one am I going to be?”