When Pastors Fail to Practice what they Preach
- Tuesday, November 07, 2006
6) "Are my expectations of having a loving church with a heterosexual, honest, committed, holiness-living-and-preaching pastor too high?" Not at all. Most pastors I know fit this description.
7) I don't know exactly what to say about the succession of pastors and the sexual and financial improprieties. On one hand, there are churches by the thousands where there is no difficulty for years, where pastors stay for a long time and leave under no cloud at all. And then there are cases where the church suffers through bad pastoral leadership for long periods. It does make one wonder if the church is not giving proper oversight to its pastors. This is a tricky area, but sometimes pastors get in trouble because they had no friends who were free to ask hard questions and hold them accountable for their answers.
8) On the larger point, we must not give up on the local church. There are times when we may need to find a new church. That's not my recommendation, just a personal observation. When leaders have greatly disappointed us, we need time to heal. It is not wrong to grieve what has happened in your church or even to take a breather from any form of church leadership for a period of time. We all need a rest from leadership and a break in our service from time to time. As Vance Havner said, If we don't come apart and rest for a while, we will simply come apart.
9) Times like these call for prayer and honest self-examination. I'm sure thousands of Christian leaders took a deep breath when they heard about Ted Haggard. What happened to him could happen to any of us. I cannot explain why he did what he did, but I am reminded of the English writer who remarked that there is no man who, if his thoughts were made public, would not deserve hanging a dozen times a day. To which I reply, only a dozen times? All we like sheep have gone astray, all have sinned and fallen short, and there but for the grace of God go I.
10) When Jesus said, "I will build My church," He told us that the church itself is His creation. He is the General Superintendent of a building project that has been going on for 2000 years. Sometimes the Lord uses stones that under pressure crumble into dust. But the church goes on because it is built on the Rock that cannot be shaken.
11) We must not give in to despair. Let us join together and ask the Lord to raise up a generation of pastors who will lead with honesty, integrity, compassion, godly vision and Christlike character.
O Lord, give us pastors like that, and then give us churches to love and support them. Amen.
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Dr. Ray Pritchard is the president of Keep Believing Ministries and author of And When You Pray. He has ministered extensively overseas and is a frequent conference speaker and guest on Christian radio and television talk shows. He has authored over 27 books, including Credo, The Healing Power of Forgiveness, An Anchor for the Soul, and Why Did This Happen to Me? You can contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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