It happens a lot. An evangelical Christian pastor disqualifies himself from ministry. As a young minister myself, I have been long warned and told of the temptations and sins that are unique to pastors. But there’s a difference between hearing about someone else’s fall and seeing it actually happen to them. I try not to celebrate when others lose. For me, there’s always an eerie feeling associated with someone’s downfall.
What do you do when you hear the story of a Christian leader who disqualifies himself from ministry? Do you judge, critique, or assume motives? “Stupid failure,” you might think to yourself. Don’t say it. Instead, when you hear of a Christian leader who disqualifies himself from ministry, consider yourself warned.
If you don’t think you’re capable of committing atrocious sins that will disqualify you from ministry, you don’t understand your own heart. As it’s been said, whenever we think “I would never do such-and-such sin,” our lives are not far from disaster.
I can’t remember where or how or when, but I remember saying to myself years ago “One man’s fall is another man’s warning.” “One man’s fall is another man’s warning.” I was a young man (and still am, actually) and felt ambitious for the things of the Lord, to be in ministry, to make my life count for the Savior (and still do). Some of the pastors who I admired most at the time disqualified themselves from ministry. It was painful. I feel tempted to backlash in some way, but I don’t. I can’t. It’s not my place. Apart from God’s grace and my gospel-driven effort in the pursuit of personal holiness, that could be me.
Instead, I see it as a learning opportunity. When I hear of someone who disqualifies themselves from ministry, I usually say a quick prayer for them (although sometimes I don’t). Then I pray for myself (although sometimes I forget). I examine my own heart. I’m sobered. I don’t rush to social media to provide my opinion. I do not wish their downfall. I want to prevent my own. Perhaps one way God can use such tragic events is to use people who fall as examples for the rest of us.
“Look, son, this could be you.”
Let the Apostle Paul’s words speak to you: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted . . . For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:1; Galatians 6:3; italics mine).
Keep watch on yourself. You too can be tempted. You too can fall. You too can disqualify yourself. Next time you hear of someone who makes shipwreck of his or her faith, instead of shaking your head in disgust, consider yourself warned. Examine your motives. Pray for yourself. And learn from the experience.