Cohabitation: Preparation for failure

Exclusive: Jerry Newcombe spotlights latest research showing benefits of the Bible’s rules for sex

Feb 15, 2022

Marriage is a gift from God. But marriage is in a sad state in America today, and we all suffer because of it.

I read recently about the movie star Joan Crawford who was legendary in her promiscuity. As her rival Bette Davis once reportedly sneered about her, “She slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie.”

Apparently, in the miserable and difficult childhood of Lucille LeSouer (who later adopted the name Joan Crawford), there was a wound from the absence of her father, according to Shaun Considine’s book, “Bette and Joan,” which became the basis for the mini-series, “The Feud.”

Considine quotes someone else about Crawford’s childhood: “Being abandoned so often traumatized Joan. … She spent the rest of her life looking for a father – in husbands, lovers, studio executives and directors.” To this Considine adds, “When she found the ideal candidate, Joan felt safe, secure, validated. In time she expected them to leave, to reject her. When they didn’t, she grew suspicious, then resentful, and found ways to make them depart.” So sad.

That’s so far from God’s design, which is one man, one woman for life. His prohibitions against sex outside of marriage are for our good.

A fascinating article in a recent Wall Street Journal (Feb. 5), highlighted the findings of a study based on the marriages and many divorces among 50,000 women in the National Survey of Family Growth.

One can infer from the article’s headline that it’s best to avoid cohabitating before marriage: “Too Risky to Wed in Your 20s? Not If You Avoid Cohabiting First: Research shows that marrying young without ever having lived together with a partner makes for some of the lowest divorce rates.”

Brad Wilcox and Lyman Stone, the article’s authors, observe, “The idea that cohabitation is risky is surprising, given that a majority of young adults believe that living together is a good way to pretest the quality of your partners and your partnership.” But couples who live together before they wed “are less likely to be happily married and more likely to land in divorce court.”

Through the years, similar studies have found the same results: to prepare best for marriage, save sex for marriage. Even in the archives of UCLA is citation of a 1990s study from the Family Research Center in Washington, D.C., which says: “Other findings indicate that saving sex for marriage reduces the risk of divorce, and monogamous married couples are the most sexually satisfied Americans.” If you’re unfaithful before marriage, why should you be faithful after getting married?

In previous generations, cohabitation was viewed as more of a scandal. Of course, not all marriages were good by any means.

My dad used to tell a story where he and mom were playing bridge one day against another couple. The woman kept yelling and berating her partner at every turn.

Finally, dad asked her, “Are you two married?”

And she snapped, “Of course we are! Do you think I’d live in sin with an idiot like that?” – pointing to her henpecked husband. When I shared this anecdote with a friend, he thought that that story might discourage someone to consider marriage over cohabitation. Well, without proper preparation, bad marriages happen. (Sadly, sometimes even with preparation.)

I thank God that I have 42 years of empirical evidence that I married a saint. After all, my fantastic wife has put up with me for more than four decades. Thankfully, we spent more time preparing for the marriage than we did for the wedding.

I write this on Valentine’s Day 2022 – when we celebrate love and romance. Christian author Bill Federer notes that the best historical evidence is that Valentine’s Day customs go back to a third century Christian leader, who fell afoul of the Roman Empire and was martyred on Feb. 14, 269.

The reason for St. Valentine’s martyrdom was not only his rejection of Roman idolatry but also because he defied the emperor, who forbade men in the Roman army to marry. Writes Federer: “Roman Emperor Claudius II needed more soldiers to fight the invading Goths. He believed that men fought better if they were not married, so he banned traditional marriage in the military.”

But some of these soldiers wanted to be married, and Valentine secretly performed weddings for them. When the Roman leaders found out about this, he was arrested and sentenced to death. The jailer, who had a sick daughter, asked his prisoner, the holy man, to pray for his child. She got better, and the saint wrote her a short, encouraging note, signing it from “your Valentine.”

Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” That includes our relationships.

God’s design for marriage is for our good, and it helps spare people a lot of unnecessary unhappiness.

Entrepreneur overcame failures, buoyed by faith in God

May 12, 2021

Ed Mylett Christian

By Michael Ashcraft

Ed Mylett lost the game for his eighth-grade basketball team. But first he lost his shorts.

He lost his shorts when the whole team pulled down their sweats for warmups. He ran through the layup line and only after missing the hoop realized he was also missing his shorts. In fact, all he had on was a jock strap (he was going to a baseball camp in the evening).

The entire gym erupted. His coach and team scrambled a circle around him and escorted Ed out to find some shorts. The shy kid who only played basketball because his dad forced him was so shaken that when he was fouled in the last seconds of the championship game, he missed two free throws that would’ve given his team the victory.

It was the worst day of his life, but surprisingly, it became the best day of his life.

Ed Mylett prosperity

In the evening at baseball camp, Eddie was slugging balls into middle field when none other than Rod Carew spotted Ed and offered to mentor him. The encounter with Carew instilled confidence that allowed Ed to eventually play college baseball.

While a freak accident kept him from MLB, Ed became wildly successful as a financial guy, a life strategist consulted by athletes and celebrities. He’s also a social media influencer.

Ed’s journey to Christ and outsized success began in Diamond Bar, CA, where he grew up in a small home with an alcoholic father, who he worried might turn violent at any time. Ed’s childhood mishaps are now the subject matter of his motivation speeches.

In addition to the missing shorts story, Ed tells of “Ray Ray,” the “punk” neighbor kid who got the whole school to taunt him with “Eddie, spaghetti, your meatballs are ready.”

Ray Ray was a bully and his next-door neighbor, he recounted at a World Financial Group convention.

Ed Mylett muscles

One day after getting licked like always by Ray Ray, seven-year-old Eddie went home to cry to Mom, who hugged him and consoled him.

But when gruff Dad heard the crying and clomped out, he ordered Eddie to go over and beat up Ray Ray immediately. Failure to do so would result in going to bed without dinner.

Scared, Eddie knocked on the door of the tattooed, shirtless Big Ray.

“Big Ray, my daddy says I have to come over here and kick Ray Ray’s butt or I can’t come home for dinner,” he said, terrified. Maybe he hoped Big Ray would exercise parental wisdom and pan the fight, but that’s not the kind of dad Big Ray was.

“I like that kind of party,” Ray Ray’s dad said. “Let’s get it.”

He immediately called his son: “Ray Ray, little Eddie here wants another piece.”

So with Eddie quaking, the boys squared up. He always got clobbered by Ray Ray.

Ray Ray lunged at him.

“By some force of sheer blessing of God, I got this little dude in a headlock and I’m, giving him noogies,” Ed remembers. “I didn’t really know how to hit him, but I was noogying the hell out of this kid’s head.”

Finally Big Ray pulled them apart. “He got you,” he told his son and ordered both to shake.

Eddie went home to eat. What else? Spaghetti.

It was a story of facing your fears and overcoming difficult challenges.

But there’s one more detail to the story. Eddie was 7 while Ray Ray was 4.

His mom, he related, had heard him tell the anecdote once omitting the age difference and insisted he should be more forthcoming.

“Why is that even relevant?” he joked. Being bullied by a kid almost half his age was embarrassing — even years later.

With listeners laughing at his embarrassing omission, Ed provided the punch line: The thing you most fear, the thing keeping you from success, the thing you procrastinate doing, is really just a small punk kid you could whip it easily, if only you dared to try.

These are the lessons of life that Ed took with him that helped him overcome difficulties.

When a college injury prevented him from trying out for Major League Baseball, he went back to his parent’s place, directionless and depressed.

“That’s where my business career of hundreds of millions of dollars started for me, believe it or not,” he says. “It started in my little bedroom I grew up with the same posters on the wall and same teddy bear on the bed, eating out of my mom and dad’s refrigerator with no job.”

Dad hooked him up with a job at the McKinley Home for Boys in San Dimas. All the boys were wards of the State of California. Under his charge were 12 boys between 8 and 10 years old. When Ed arrived, the kids were getting ready for school.

They looked at their new guide. He looked at them.

“I saw all these little eyes looking at me and I recognized those eyes because I have similar eyes,” he says. “Any child that grew up in some real dysfunction: drug addiction, alcoholism, abuse divorce, stress and yelling in a house, our eyes are just different. We just want people to love us.

“My life changed instantly. My life became one of serving those boys.”

As Rod Carew had poured into Ed, Ed now poured into the boys.

“I was their father, their big brother,” he says. “I took them to school every day. I was there when they opened their presents on Christmas. I was there when they brought home their grades from school. I did homework with them. I put them to bed at night.

“It changed my life because for once in my life I found out, man, I love helping people,” he marvels.

The years have passed, but the work at the Boys Home changed him forever. He’s still helping people. He’s helping celebrities and athletes rediscover themselves and take on new challenges once their glory days are over.

It’s been a wild ride. And Jesus, whom he accepted along the journey, has blessed him powerfully. He’s outspoken about his faith amidst a journey pitted with failures: he lost his cars, homes and had his water cut off for lack of payment — typical stuff for the entrepreneur.

He married Kristianna in 1997, and they have two children. But the trappings of success don’t hold his heart, he says.

“What’s really important and what’s really meaningful is that I can bring a lot of people to God that maybe wouldn’t walk into a church,” he told Reclaimd Magazine. “I’m passionate about that. It keeps me going. It obviously is sort of my crusade and my mission is to show people a way to be happier.”

If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here

Reporter Michael Ashcraft does financial services on the side in Ed Mylett’s company, WFG. He helps clients with rollovers, life insurance in California, Nevada, Arizona and Nebraska. Other states, and services, coming.

https://mustardseedbudget.wordpress.com/2021/05/12/ed-mylett-400m-entrepreneur-christian/

Speak To The Rock! (Man of Faith, Moses)

May 30, 2016 Karina’s Thought

Hello dear readers! I am grateful to God could come back again with “Man of Faith” series. This time I’m not writing alone but I wrote this post with my dearest blog friend, Lauren Heiligenthal. Now I chose Moses as the 3rd figure. Like Abraham and Noah, Moses also mentioned many times in the Old and New Testament. After took study of Moses’ story, I conclude that Moses had two contradictory life sides i.e. side of successful and failure. Let’s have a look to the first side.

GET OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE

Moses was a great prophet with a winding life. He was born when Egypt felt threatened by the very high soaring population growth of Israelite and the threat made Pharaoh scared and issued an order to the all midwife to kill all of baby boy. (Exodus 1:16)  Because Moses’ mother think she no longer hid Moses, then she decided to took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank. (Exodus 2:3) In short, the daughter of Pharaoh saw the baby and eventually took him as his son and called his name Moses. (Exodus 2: 5-8) Then Moses lived in luxury in the palace. But what happened? Turned out Moses didn’t forget his origin. Seeing his nation lived in oppression, his conscience revolted. He also acted and opting out of his enjoyment. He decided to get out of his comfort zone in the palace. Moses chose to fulfill God’s calling to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.

Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10)

Although Moses had some doubts and fears (Exodus 4:1), eventually he chose to trust and obey to God, leaving his comfort and willing to suffer just for God’s calling. This was Moses’ great faith step. He moved from the comfort zone to the faith zone. Was written in Hebrews 11:24-25:

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

Moses used by God amazingly to bring the Israelite to the Promise Land though he had to suffer in the wilderness for 40 years together with the people who never grew up, never stop complaining, never be grateful, and never satisfied. By faith, Moses successfully made it out of the comfort zone that he fully realized it all came from sin.

In our daily lives, there are times we must be willing to leave our comfort zone. We have to decide to leave all the pleasures and choose God’s calling to bear the cross to follow Jesus. We would probably suffer. But in the bigger “frame”, it would be much more beneficial for our future later. God never reneged on his promises. God will never abandon us. Though In distress and difficulty God remains with us, guided us who obedient to bear His cross. Life is full of choices and we have full of authority to decide it. But God said:

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;  that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Moses was choosing to leave his comfort zone to obey God’s voice and cling to Him to live in the Promise Land. What about us? Whether we’ve been dare to come out of our comfort zone? If we dare to pay the price to leave all of worldly pleasant things that will bring us into the sin? Do we believe though there may be suffering and there’s something must be sacrificed but at the end we will receive all of God’s promise? The world offer temporary comfort and pleasure but God promises the “Eternal Land”. Today let’s learn from Moses who dares to leave worldly pleasure follow God’s call to get into the Promise Land.

MOSES’ ERROR

Now we come to the second side of Moses, a contradict with his first side. Why I say contradict? Let’s take look. This time Moses did some fatal errors and made him got a very bitter consequence. Has been nearly 40 years Moses led a big, complicated and obstinate nation to keep on the right path. Turned out the Israelite attitude made Moses frustrated and affects his emotional state. Moses’ frustration and emotional peaks occurred when the Israelite angered and complained about the lack of water when they came into the wilderness of Zin and stayed in Kadesh. (Numbers 20:1-13) After he faced the Israelite’s anger then he spoke to God in the door of tabernacle of meeting and God said to Moses:

 ““Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” (Numbers 20:8)

At this point Moses couldn’t hold back his emotion, he cannot control his temper and made some fatal errors! Let’s have a look what Moses said in the front of Israelites:

“Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. (Number 20:10-11)

Let’s pay attention to the word “Must we…”  This was the first fatal mistake carried out by Moses. He didn’t suppose said “we…” Moses was supposed to say “God…” This showed that in his annoyance to the Israelites he spoke rashly. Was written in Psalm 106:3,

For they rebelledagainst the Spiritof God, and rash words came from Moses’ lips.

 Beside his rash word, Moses had wrong motive, stolen God’s holiness and glory by Mentioned “We…”  Make a miracle is God’s work but Moses took credit of miracle himself, instead of attributing to God.

The second error of Moses was his disobedience. This is what I mean about contradictive side of Moses. When for the first time he decided to leave Egypt, he totally trust and obey to God’s calling but this time Moses stumbled and slipped disobeyed to God’s command. God clearly commanded to speak to the rock but Moses struck the rock twice. This was disobedience form of Moses and even worse, Moses showed his disobedience before the Israelites. His has done intolerant thing by as if disparaged God in the front of Israelites. (Numbers 27:14) God not pleased and then He punished Moses:

“Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” (Numbers 20:12)

My dear friends, what we could take as a lesson from Moses’ errors? The first important thing we could learn from is, if a great prophet like Moses even called as very humble man more than all men on the earth (Numbers 12:3) can be stumbled and slipped into the sin, what about us? Moses’ error is a warning for all of us that anytime what happened with Moses could be happen anytime to us as well.

The second is about self-control. Because of frustrated and temper, then Moses loss of his self-control and it made him fall into the sin. It’s very important for Christians especially for  Christian leaders. Self-control is a part of fruits of Spirit and wraps the other fruits. Without self-control then the other fruits will be in vain and we will be fall into the sin. It’s written in Proverbs 16:32: Better a patient person than a warrior,   one with self-control than one who takes a city. And: Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28)  As a great leader Moses stumbled not hallows God caused of his lack of self-control. This should be an important lesson for many Christian leaders though have full authority but must take control ourselves, control each statement and command that come out from our mouth so that always uphold God’s holiness above of all and reflect His glory to others.

The last, we have to trust and obey to every God’s given tasks and have the right motivation behind our actions. Trust that God will always provide the way to complete the task though the task seems impossible to do and we doubt with our own ability. Obey to every God’s command because God never gives wrong command. Although it may give the same outcome, don’t do anything other than God’s command because it would make God not pleased and we will get the bad consequence.

My dear friends, last but not least, although Moses stumbled and got the consequence, yet he stayed faithful until the end. Accompanied by formidable signs and miracles he remains led the Israelites get into the Promise Land. His failure didn’t diminish the greatness of his name. Moses still known as a great prophet throughout the ages and he still received the honor of “entry” into the Promise Land when he appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration and talk with Jesus. (Matthew 17:3) Let’s learn from Moses’ life both about his faith also his failure. Life is always full of choices and because God really loves us, He gives us a chance to make a choice freely. But we’ve to realize that there’s always a consequence of what we choose. As clearly written in Deuteronomy 30:19, God gives us some option but He wants us to choose life and we will have live. Let’s keep our heart diligently, keep learning to control ourselves, trust and obey to God’s voice and always cling to Him so we aren’t easily stumbling and slip into the sin. God said: Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23) Amen

Karina – Lauren Heiligenthal

My great honor to Lauren Heiligenthal who willing to be co – writer on this post.

Image source: howgodprovides.com

https://karinasussanto.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/speak-to-the-rock-man-of-faith-moses/

Unqualified verses Qualified

Feels like you have jumped the queue, uncertain that you really truly can’t meet the demand of what you’ve been called to do.

by Petula Hippolyte

Unqualified verses Qualified

Has there ever been a time in your life, when it comes to your studies, that you continued to fail? Never got past the halfway mark to qualify. Missed out on crucial points to get you to the next stage. The feeling of failure and realizing that you just ain’t that good at academia. Often basing our worth on what we feel we should  be achieving because of our comparisons to our peers, friends, and associates.

I remember being told at one point in my life, that because I did not go to University and did not obtain a proper Degree, that I was less than another person. I was being compared to somebody else and it felt awful. I was being told indirectly that I had no value and there was nothing I could do about it, quite frankly. Feeling like a nobody, I went through life, trying to achieve success and always giving up halfway and allowing their voice in my head, to keep repeating the negatives into my life.

 What your doing is not as important as what I am doing’  ‘ You don’t even have a degree ‘.

I gradually worked out understood why it was happening… I noticed when I doubted myself when attempting to do something. I felt that same feeling of worthlessness when I was struggling to learn a new thing. When it came to studies, I shied away from booking the courses that interested me, because I thought I would fail, yet again.

However, when I became a believer, a major breakthrough happened in my life, something that completely turned my life around, in terms of what I thought about myself. God not only revealed to me what I was gifted at. He brought me back to a time in my life as visions, when I would see myself writing, from as young as 13yrs.

Of course! My first thought was, I write because I enjoy it, I did not see it as something special. Though God had a different idea, he revealed he was going to use me with my writing to encourage others, to give them hope. Scripture tells us God does not call the ‘ Qualified ‘ he calls those who are not and for the first time I felt like a somebody and not a nobody, who had not achieved much. When indeed  I had been given a gift that I did not have to study for, bust my guts over revision timetables for. No sleepless nights and early morning rises.

When God spoke to Moses through the burning bush, Moses was living a life of obscurity at that time.. He knew Moses had a heart for people and had credible standing at one point in his life and so God decided to use. Moses of course lamented.

‘ I am a nobody God ‘ …’ I am not qualified God’

But God was using Moses for his credibility, not Moses’s. God was using him as an example to those, who did not believe what God could do.

 

Original here

Why Do Some Pastors Sabotage Their Own Ministries?

And how can they avoid the allure of the self-destruct button?
STEPHEN L. WOODWORTH

Why Do Some Pastors Sabotage Their Own Ministries?

Can we be brutally honest with one another for a moment? Can I ask you, pastor to pastor, the question that no one dares to ask.

How often do you want to quit?

How often do you fantasize about doing something else, something that refuses to weigh so heavily on your soul, something that offers more money? Or less? Something that doesn’t cost your family so much of their time, energy, and privacy? Something that helps you feel “normal” when you talk to fellow parents at your child’s school or their weekly sporting event? Do you ever wonder if there might be another way to make a living that doesn’t cost so much?

I do.

I do on those Monday mornings when the post-sermon blues hit me so hard I could stay in bed for days. When people judge my children, second-guess my motives, and criticize my teaching. When I spend another sleepless night on the couch, in the silence and stillness of my house, wondering if there might be anything else in the world someone like me could do, but when the thing I know how to do best is pastor the souls of broken men and women.

These haunting questions are the unspoken underbelly of the pastoral calling. They are asked by those torn in two by the burden of their calling and the desire for escape, those who have invested too much time and money building a platform they can’t afford to lose, and those who wake up some morning to discover that all the years of preaching truths they never experienced themselves bored a deep cynicism into their souls.

This kind of pressure pushes some pastors toward the light, draws them closer to Christ, and grows them into greater spiritual maturity. Yet it casts others into the darkest of corners, sends them running away from Jesus, and tempts them to give in to temptations that have haunted them for years. While many pastors handle the burden of ministry with grace for decades, why do some crash and burn in only a few years?

Many people believe the reason is quite simple: the sinful human heart. This is true, of course, but also vague enough to be of little value for those seeking a specific prescription. Others suggest pride or a culture of celebrity that elevates pastors above the law. Still others talk about pastors’ isolation, their lack of confession, their diminished willingness to engage in self-reflection. Or as my wife suggested, some pastors have gotten so used to faking it that this becomes the norm in every sphere of life. Undoubtedly these all play a role in pastoral failure.

But I want to suggest another option: Some pastors sabotage their ministries on purpose.

Hitting the Self-Destruct Button

I often read that pastors never decide one morning to become addicted to pills, to bed down with someone other than their spouse, to endlessly click through pornographic websites, or to drink until life becomes a dull blur. And while it’s true that these decisions probably aren’t spur of the moment, we deceive ourselves if we pretend pastors never willingly and intentionally decide to fail. Some do.

As Carey Nieuwhof reflects, failure is sometimes the quickest escape.

When I first started out in ministry, I met with a pastor who had just had to resign because of an affair. He was 20 years my senior, and we met for lunch.

I asked him why he had an affair, and he told me in part it was because he couldn’t handle the pressure of ministry anymore but couldn’t find an easy way to get out. The affair forced him out.

Years later I would discover the pain of burnout personally. … I was so burnt out an escape from my life looked appealing. By the grace of God, I knew enough to keep my head in the game even though my heart had stopped working. As a result, during my darkest months, I kept saying to myself “whatever you do, don’t do anything rash—don’t cheat on your wife, don’t quit your job and don’t buy a sports car.”

In its simplest terms, self-sabotage, or self-defeating behavior, includes any behavior that undermines a person’s own goals. Psychologist Ellen Hendrickson suggests that, among other reasons, many people self-sabotage because it gives them a feeling of control over their situation. She notes, “It feels better to control your own failure. At least when you’re steering the ship, going down in flames feels more like a well-maintained burn.”

Others may sabotage themselves due to insecurity. Many pastors feel like imposters, and it may feel easier to fail morally than face the potential of being fired for inadequacy. “How does this manifest?” asks Hendrickson. “Feeling like a fraud easily leads you towards procrastination and diversion—if you’re faced with a task that makes you feel like a phony, it’s a lot more tempting to … realize there’s no time like the present to immediately start a DIY spice rack project.”

And then there are those who pursue self-sabotage as a way to return to a sense of equilibrium. To one degree or another, every pastor feels the gnawing sense of their own hypocrisy. We are called to preach, week after week, about a vision of Christianity that we may not fully experience, a love from God we sometimes don’t feel, prayer we don’t practice, parenting and marriage advice we forget to employ in our own homes, forgiveness we struggle to give, an identity in Christ in which we struggle to stay rooted. Amid that tension, pastors may look for a way to balance others’ external expectations with their internal reality. The higher the pedestal, the stronger the pull back down.

For this reason, it doesn’t surprise me anymore to see those in some of the largest and most influential ministries in America jumping toward the ground. Sin is the norm and sainthood our elusive goal, so it can be a bizarrely cathartic act for some to give in to their temptations in order to feel “normal” once again. I have watched this principle play itself out among colleagues who have confessed to retreating to their office immediately after the sermon to look at porn, swallow a pill, or drain a bottle of liquor.

I do not believe pastors misunderstand the ramifications of these sort of actions. Certainly, many have successfully hidden their sins for years, but the truth usually finds its way to the surface. And when it does come into the light of day, pastors can’t speak about biblical ignorance or moral ambiguity. Indeed, perhaps the greatest irony of pastoral failure is the amount of teaching, preaching, and writing pastors have often dedicated to decrying the very sins that lead to their fall. Pastors are uniquely positioned to understand the gravity of their immoral decision. This is precisely why their moral failures are more shocking, and why it is difficult to deny that, at least in some cases, pastoral failure is an intentional push of the eject button.

Even while I use the word intentional, it is important to remember that the motives for our self-defeating behavior may be hidden from us in the moment. As with many poor decisions we make, our motives may be limited to hindsight. Such is the case for Darrin Patrick, who underwent three years of restoration since his firing from The Journey church in 2016. After years of counseling, reflection, prayer, and repentance, Patrick came to understand his own act of ministerial self-sabotage was driven by a deep need to be rescued and rebuked:

In my own story, this self-sabotaging was a cry for help. It was me throwing the white flag up and saying, “I need help.” I was saying, “I want to be known, I want to be accepted despite my flaws, I want people to know I have struggles, I want people to know how hard it is and how much I have sacrificed.”

Perhaps most important for Patrick during his season of restoration was the counsel he received from CrossPoint Ministry founder Richard Plass, who shared with Patrick, “You have been crying out for help since you were a little boy; you’ve been wanting somebody to come and be your dad, be your older brother. You’re acting out in order to be rebuked.”

Stepping Back from the Ledge

I shared these reflections recently with some pastoral colleagues who resonated with many aspects of the self-sabotage temptation. When I asked them how they had managed to avoid this fate, a few themes repeatedly rose to the surface of these conversations.

1. Avoid Isolation

Several pastors mentioned that their primary driver of frustration, disillusionment, and sometimes despair is the inherently dehumanizing nature of ministry. In too many churches, the pastor is a role, not a person. Pastors fulfill certain duties—they pray, they preach, they visit, they counsel—but many don’t feel seen as individuals. When someone or something makes a lonely pastor feel “human” again, that pastor may struggle not to run straight into its arms. And the temptation grows even stronger when giving in to it might provide an easy out from a ministry that otherwise feels unavailable. This is the temptation Henri Nouwen was guarding against when he wrote about the need for constant community in the life of a pastor:

When spirituality becomes spiritualization, life in the body becomes carnality. When ministers and priests live their ministry mostly in their heads and relate to the Gospel as a set of valuable ideas to be announced, the body quickly takes revenge by screaming loudly for affection and intimacy. Christian leaders are called to live the Incarnation, that is, to live in the body, not only in their own bodies but also in the corporate body of the community, and to discover there the presence of the Holy Spirit.

2. Watch for Patterns

Second, my colleagues suggested that pastors on the verge of self-sabotage begin to notice the moments in which temptations strike hardest and keep track of when their particular struggle rears its ugly head. Is every spiritual success, every instance of high praise, met with a plunge into the depths of darkness? Pastors on the verge of collapse should ask those who love and know them best if they recognize a pattern in their bouts of depression, anger, despair, or defeats with temptation. If these pastors are seeking a sense of stability to help balance their external persona with their internal reality, they should talk to older pastors about their feelings of inadequacy, their guilt of hypocrisy, and their desire to leap off the pedestal. More ministry “success” will only aggravate the problem.

3. Grieve Your Losses

Finally, and maybe most importantly, my colleagues recommended that pastors learn to grieve. Pastors everywhere, regardless of ministry context, size, or denomination, will sometimes experience a sense of personal loss, betrayal, and anger toward congregants—people who criticized their ministry, tried to get them fired, or consumed their time with petty gripes about music, sermon topics, or the youth ministry. People they poured their life into, yet they still left the church for another one down the street with better coffee in the foyer. People who tried to split the congregation over a trivial issue or personally attacked their spouse or kids. People who hurt them.

Pastors need a way to take these wounds seriously and address them in healthy ways that don’t include passive attacks from the pulpit. They should make time for regular, extended Sabbath rest and quarterly appointments with a trusted counselor who can help them process their pain.

Finally, let me say this: It’s okay to quit. You are not your church. You are not your ministry. You are not the sole bearer of the kingdom in your corner of the world. And stepping away from a role in full-time ministry is not equivalent in any way to stepping away from God. In fact, for some of you, stepping away from full-time ministry may be a step toward God. Every time a pastor escapes ministry through self-sabotage, an entire community is devastated and the global reputation of the church is harmed. Some pastors need to resign rather than escape. Yes, the church needs pastors, but it also needs to stop getting hit by shrapnel when they crash.

 

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