Much has been written lately about major church leaders and pastors who have fallen victim to their sinful nature causing unimaginable damage to themselves, their families and the churches who looked to them for guidance. This is to say nothing of the damage in their communities.
How is it that there is such duplicity between the public life and the private life of some spiritual leaders? Several reasons: At some point these fallen leaders stopped making a priority of caring for their souls. The very nature of ministry is about “doing.” There is never a time in the life of a pastor that there is not something to do. When all the items on a “to do” list are checked off and the pastor turns the page, the “to do” list for the next day is there. There is just never enough time to do everything. Doing becomes so demanding there is little or no time left for “being,” caring for the soul.
In his book, Leading on Empty (a must read for every pastor), Wayne Cordeiro writes, “Solitude is a choice of separation for refining your soul. Isolation is what you crave when you neglect the first.” Here is where the breakdown between the public and private life begins.
When time is not made to care for our soul, then isolation beckons us with: “You deserve this,” “No one cares about you,” “You are not hurting anyone if you _______.” One look leads to another and another leads to moral failure; it doesn’t begin with one look, it begins when the soul is neglected and lies begin to replace truth. “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23. The heart and mind must connect with a dogged determination to make a priority of soul care.
David is a classic example of moral failure, from which we can learn much. When David looked across the roof tops he saw Bathsheba bathing, and then sent for her. We have no indication that there was a “Jonathan” figure in his life. There was no one to ask the hard questions and no iron sharpening iron relationship. I contend if David had a “Jonathan” figure in his life he would have never committed adultery and the murder of Uriah would not have happened. But David was King and he didn’t feel the need for accountability. What would others think if they knew he struggled with lust? So he isolated himself relationally and well, you know the rest of the story.
If pastors are not caring for their souls, they usually have no one in their lives they are accountable to, and the scene is set for the potential of a tragic moral failure, not from just one look, but from the gradual erosion of the moral fibers that hold us close to God and our spouses. Take heed; don’t allow the enemy to destroy your marriage, family and ministry. Make sure you are honest with yourself, and that your public and private life are the same.
I once read a proverb that said, “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair.” Think about that the next time you look.