Each year as I research and write content for MMI, my heart is saddened by the same story: Â pastoral moral failure. Â It seems that only the names and locations change. Â Mostly, it’s sexual sins. Â Sometimes financial. But always incredibly disheartening and always terribly devastating to the body of Christ.
All of these ‘falls from grace’ start with one thing: Â temptation. Â When temptation enters the life of a church leader, it is always a cross roads. Â And it seems like, if pastors and church leaders could just learn to respond to temptation correctly, we could eliminate many of these tragic falls and save a lot of face, save a lot of marriages, and keep a lot of churches from tremendous amounts of hurt and damage.
Here’s my solution this morning. Â I’ve shared this clip here before, but it’s one of my favorites. Â When it comes to temptation and the acting out of those things we are tempted to do, you really only have to remember two words:
Seem rather harsh?
Well, the Bible says that we are to FLEE from temptation. Â Rather, actually, we are to STOP IT, before we ever START IT.
But that’s not how temptation works many times, is it? Â It is so easy to get drawn into something. Â And once you’re there, it’s easier the next time, and the next time.
But my wife doesn’t give me much attention.
Oh no… we’re not going there. Â STOP IT.
But you don’t know how stressful my job at the church is.
We’re not going there either. Â STOP IT.
Here’s what I see… the longer you keep sinning, the worse your excuses get.
The grand-daddy of excuses came in the most recent GQ interview with Ted Haggard.
In essence, Haggard says… I visited a gay prostitute and bought some crystal meth so that I could use it to make my sexual self gratification last long while I watched porn.
There are so many times that he should have just STOPPED IT.
But he was molested as a child.
Oh no… we’re not going there.
But the church is so unfair and judgmental.
Oh no, we’re DEFINITELY not going there.
Pastor, if you’ve recently succumbed to temptation. Â I have two words for you: Â STOP IT.
Is this an oversimplification? Â Absolutely.
Can all sin and temptation simply be solved by STOPPING IT? Â Probably not… a good dose of a counselor (who is not Bob Newhart) is probably necessary. Â But the time to stop making excuses and continuing in the behavior that will most definitely rob you of your job and your family is now. Â STOP IT.
Flee from the temptation. Â Turn around and run from the temptation as fast as you can.
Even in the most severe temptation… even if you’re the most deprived person who has fallen to temptation in the past, God has a plan and a promise:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear, but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted abouve that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of excape, that ye may be able to endure it. Â I Corinthians 10:13.