Pitfalls that pastors should avoid

Five rules that are helpful for religious leaders

Gigi Tinsley | 7/17/2014, 9 a.m.
Christian pastors are known for being kind and caring to their congregations while uplifting them with inspiring messages. But while ...

Christian pastors are known for being kind and caring to their congregations while uplifting them with inspiring messages. But while goodness and compassion are standard among the clergy, controversy and scandal are not infrequent in the lives of religious leaders.

Infidelity, drug and substance abuse, and financial mismanagement have rocked the clergy in recent years. Unfortunately, famous and infamous cases have exposed the sometimes-improper activities committed by religious leaders. (It is, of course, important and refreshing to know that the vast majority Christian leaders do not fall to such temptations).

On Charisma News, J. Lee Grady published a piece offering advice for ministers and Christian leaders. “If you aspire to ministry, don’t be stupid,” he wrote. Grady highlighted “pitfalls” pastors make that should be avoided. Grady encouraged pastors to “avoid spiritual stupidity” and to make good and Godly choices.

While some of the items he highlighted are common sense, they are worth sharing since more religious leaders are damaging their lives and the faith of the people they serve. They are:

  1. Using illegal drugs. I know people who never receive complete deliverance from their drug habits. When the pressures of ministry grow intense, many turned to illegal substances (sin) to escape their problems instead of prayer or God. Of course, that doesn’t make sense. If pastors reject God as a way to help them control of their actions, then perhaps the ministry is no longer their calling.

  2. Reject accountability. The Lone Ranger may have been a great comic book hero, but isolation doesn’t work in real life. Pastors reject accountability perhaps because they lack humility. Not accepting input and heeding the warnings of those around you can cause a pastor to hurt God’s people. You have no right to be in authority if you are not under authority.

  3. Spousal abuse. The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:7 that God will not listen to your prayers if you mistreat your wife, you are hurting God’s daughter. If you are an abuser and master at hiding your sin from others, the Lord will oppose you until you seek help. God’s wrath is powerful when it comes to defending his daughters.

  4. Surround yourself with loyal, strong Christians. Years ago, Jim Bakker, the founder of the Praise The Lord (PTL) ministry, said his biggest mistake was planting “yes men” around him instead of people who had the guts to challenge his bad decisions. If you aren’t willing to invite input—including criticism—from your followers, you are a weak leader headed for disaster.

  5. Fake spiritual gifts to impress others. In our movement, there’s a lot of pressure to produce sensational sermons in order to keep people entertained. Pastors must be careful not to fake a healing, conjure up a false prophecy or push someone to the floor. Because these acts please people and not God, they do nothing but scar people who are honestly seeking the Lord and the Holy Spirit. Heed the warnings and do not offend God by pleasing man.