Some preachers lose their calling and unction because they don’t know how to guard their hearts. They have a problem with women. More than one man in ministry has lost it all because he didn’t stay off the internet and didn’t guard his heart. I have longtime friends from college who are no longer in ministry. They’ve lost their families in the process. They were gifted, talented, and recognized by their peers, but they got their eyes off the Lord and they fell.
I will not take an appointment with a woman unless my office door is open or I have a witness with me. I am to the point where I rarely travel alone. It’s not that I don’t trust myself, but in these days, you are guilty until proven innocent. I don’t think a pastor ought to avoid women, I just think he needs to use his head.
As I’ve thought through what attracts a woman to a minister, I’ve come to several conclusions. After all, most of us aren’t much to look at…so what’s the attraction? One, the power of the pulpit. Women see a pastor who looks like he’s got it all together and they are attracted to him—especially if their husband is a wimp or refuses to be the spiritual leader. Two, he loses when he loses his ministry. His influence in the community is over. His income is probably cut in half, and he’s lost the respect of his peers.
What attracts men to women whom they have no business being with? One, the enemy gets in their heads and says, “You deserve this. You work hard for God, so one little indiscretion won’t hurt. You’re better than most of those folks. God owes this to you. He knows you struggle.” Two, a pastor can be so obsessed with building the church that his home crumbles in the process. Neglecting your wife to build your ministry is dangerous. What if you build a mega-church and lose your ministry, what have you gained?
A third danger is setting yourself up as the perfect man. If you are the subject of all your stories, if you are always preaching on a healthy marriage, chances are, you don’t have one. I served a pastor who preached a message, “How to be a joy to live with.” His children said he was a nightmare to live with.
If a pastor puts himself up as the perfect husband with all the answers, he’s going to be attractive to women. Be real. Your wife has seen you with bed head and bad breath. You’re not that hot. Quit selling yourself and start preaching Jesus.
I find a great model in Jesus and the way he dealt with women. The woman caught in adultery didn’t see Him as another client. The woman at the well who had five husbands and a live-in lover didn’t see Jesus as husband number six. Both were promiscuous. Jesus met them on a spiritual level. Remember when the woman at the well went back to town, she said, “Come see a man…” She could have easily been saying, “Come see a real man…” Our calling is to reveal God and man at their best—that was Jesus. That should be what we are about.
ALWAYS BEING AVAILABLE
Turn your cell phone off. You don’t have to answer every call. You aren’t any good if you are always available. I tell our folks and staff, when I’ve got time set aside for study, don’t bother me unless it’s a life or death situation. If it’s not, the life that might be death may be your own. Jesus said, “Come apart and rest awhile.” If you don’t come apart, you will come apart.
Don’t answer the phone when you are eating supper with your family. We had a policy in our home at dinner time: they can call back. You have little enough time as it is without taking time away from your wife and kids to talk to someone who could have called you during office hours. Get caller ID. Know who to talk to. It’s your phone—control it, don’t let it control you.
Take a day off. The work will be there when you get back. I know it’s Old Testament, but the Lord set aside a tree, a day, and a year for the land to rest. Surely it’s not sinful for you to take a day off and chill out. Play golf. Read something that has nothing to do with ministry. Go see a movie. Take your wife out on a date. You need a change of pace. You can’t burn the candle at both ends and not get burned or burned out.
The ministry is in a sad state. Some of it we can control. Some of it we can’t. Walking in the Spirit, guarding our hearts and understanding time management would go a long way to preserving your ministry and extending your life. Think about it.