November 6, 2006

Sin and the Pastorate

I wasn't going to post about Ted Haggard, but, in my area, there is another high profile pastor who did something (the stories are all different) but refused to step down and now that he has is starting his own church.

Scot McKnight
has a good post, and so too does Gordon MacDonald. Todd Rhoades is discussing this as well.

I have thought about this over the last few days as I am sure many others have as well. Here are some of the things I am thinking about:

1. We are all susceptible to sin. There is never a time we are immune to temptation. Did Ted Haggard or any of the other who have fallen HAVE to sin? No, but temptation attacks us all.

2. We must take every step possible to avoid sin. This is true of all Christians, but especially ministers. Like it or not, as a minister we are held to a higher standard; there are greater expectations of us. Are we capable of failing? Yes. Do we fail? Yes. But, despite our "all sins are equal in God's eyes" mentality, all sins are not equal. I don't believe they are, and I don't believe the Bible teaches that either. What I see is that Grace is offered to all no matter what they have done.

We must take every step to avoid pride, privilege, and the trappings of success if and when they come. Sin and temptation must be resisted and fled from at all costs. Jesus may have been partially speaking tongue-in-cheek when He said, "If you right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away," but there is also a lot of truth in that statement. Sin begins in the heart, but we must be extremely careful not to put ourselves in the physical locations that foster those heart troubles.

3. My sin affects more than just me. The truthfulness of this statement is VERY apparent in Ted Haggard's case, but not always in mine and yours. But the reality of it is true. Every time we sin it has an affect on the community (both the spiritual community and the community as a whole).

4. Be grace-filled from the start. It always seems that those who fall the hardest are the most outspoken. This is a sharp reminder that we should temper everything we say with humility. Often we mix God's message to us up with our own personal crusade and begin bashing and slashing everyone around us guilty of our sin pet-peeve. God offers grace, so too should we. I would rather be known for being too forgiving than too judgmental.

5. That last statement may seem in conflict with this one, but I believe that forgiveness and grace giving happen in a moment, restoration takes a whole lot longer. I can't imagine the tragedy this event is causing Ted Haggard, his wife, children, and all those who trusted him. I believe that we must offer grace, respect, and forgiveness to him for his actions. But I do have to ask the question, "Is there ever an action that disqualifies us from the professional Christian ministry?" Maybe after a long period of counseling, spiritual work, and humility, God can restore a person to the ministry. I don't know, to be honest.

6. If you are caught, be completely honest from the first word you say. This is extremely difficult and not very likely. I have found myself having to fess up to things in the past, and it is a person's first reaction to defend and make excuses for what they have done. We have to fight that urge. Like it or not, the whole truth will be known.

7. We need to create an environment, some how, where people and pastors can feel safe enough to reveal, discuss, and heal from their hurts and temptations before they make it to this level. This does not happen anywhere, as far as I can tell. There are moments and times, but lets be honest, our reaction to our deepest sins are the same as Adam and Eve's to God--we run and hide because we realize we are naked.

Let's keep Ted Haggard in our prayers.

No comments:

Post a Comment