I’m not sure where I read or heard these words; I would give credit if I knew. “Self-examination is very painful but the unexamined life is a life not worth living.”
This blog is a call for every pastor to do an honest and possibly painful self-examination. Having worked with pastors and their families full-time for the past four years, I am compelled to write these words, asking a very hard and tough question. Okay, enough of the apologetic introduction.
Pastor, is the church the other woman in your life? Before you answer too quickly, answer this: Who gets more of your time and attention, the church or your wife? Can you ever give the church enough of your time and attention? Does she always want more? By the time you get home, have you given so much of yourself to her that you have nothing left to give your wife? Your wife in many cases loves the church as much as you do, but you won’t let her love the church because the church has become your mistress.
The mistress will stroke your ego with praise and adoration as long as you are available at her beck and call. In other cases, the church won’t allow the wife to love her because she will be satisfied with no one but the pastor. The thing about this kind of affair is the more time you give the other woman, the more time she demands. No time is sacred for the other woman: dinner time, date night with your wife, vacation. Your time is her time. The destructive viscous cycle gets deeper and deeper and more and more controlling, until the wife shuts totally down emotionally, physically and relationally and accepts the dysfunction of the affair or says, “Enough is enough, I’m finished.”
The pastor begins to say, “My wife has shut me out, she has nothing for me, there is no intimacy, and she gives me nothing but a hard time.” Or I receive a call from a pastor saying, “My wife has left me and my ministry is destroyed.” The other woman will not accept a man whose public image is damaged.
Self-examination is so painful, isn’t it? Some pastors will ask, “How do I know if the church has become the other woman?” A surefire way is to ask your wife that question. Some of you are now starting to have the onset of an anxiety attack; the fear of the answer would just be too painful. Some of you know the answer before you even ask the question. Rather than making the tough changes of loving your wife as Christ loved the church, you would rather not know.
How would things change in your life if you followed God’s order: love God first and foremost (even more than the other woman), love your wife and family, and then love the church?
Self-examination is very painful, but the unexamined life is not a life worth living. Do the self-examination before your marriage is terminal. If the marriage is sick, get the help you need!