Pastors, burnouts, affairs, and a ministry that lasts

Today I learned that a pastor who has mentored me, served on an advisory team for our church plant, and been very influential in my thinking on church systems has admitted to a 2+ year affair.

I also learned on Sunday that a friend of mine who pastors a church locally resigned last Sunday. Reportedly, his was not a moral breakdown but a matter of burnout.

I’m breathless. I’ve cried. I’ve been numb since Sunday night.

These are not the first of my friends to step down from ministry, and they won’t be the last.

I continue to love these men deeply and believe that God will forgive them and perhaps even use them again as influencers in His Kingdom.

Today though my thoughts have turned inward. Today I am thinking about things like:

  • How does one measure success? Both of these men had fast growing churches, both were sought after as conference speakers, both led coaching networks, etc. and yet now both of them are done (at least for a time). So what is success? Is it size? Breadth of influence? Or is it something else? Something we may not see right away? Something that is sustainable?
  • Speaking of sustainability, I want to finish the race. I want to love my wife well until “death do us part.” I want my children to grow up and love God and the church. I want to pastor Church180 well and be here for a long time without either burning out or compromising my integrity.
  • Are the things that are consuming me right now the right things? Are the things I’m losing sleep over right now really that important? As a matter of fact, maybe I should ask this question, if God could lose sleep would He lose sleep over the things I’m losing sleep over?

Truth be told, your pastor needs your help. We are a team. We are in this together. We must work with and for one another to finish the race we have begun.

So, here are some things we can do to help one another and secure the influence of Jesus through the church:

  • Make Jesus the benchmark of “goodness”, not your pastor. He/she is subject to temptation and “all manner of sin” just like you are. If Jesus is your benchmark of goodness and your pastor fails then you will be disappointed but not derailed.
  • Pray for and encourage your pastor.
  • Volunteer at your church, because if you don’t your pastor will end up doing it (or not doing it and then your church will be less influential than it could be and your pastor will feel guilty about that).
  • Don’t expect your pastor to do everything, and don’t let him/her! This has much to do with the previous point, but not every pastor is good at asking for help.
  • Protect your pastor. There are lots of ways to do this. Here are a few:
    • If you’re a volunteer and you can’t be there on Sunday… find your own replacement! Don’t call your pastor on Saturday and say, “Oh, I’m not going to be there tomorrow!”
    • If you hear gossip in the church… confront it and stop it! Don’t receive it or pass it on!
    • If you see something that needs to be done in the church… do it! Don’t complain about it!
    • Pray for your pastor and his family every day! Satan is fighting your pastor… HARD! He knows if he can wreck him that he will give the entire church a “punch in the gut.” Pray for your spiritual leaders… and let them know that you are doing that!

What say you to all of this?

7 thoughts on “Pastors, burnouts, affairs, and a ministry that lasts

  1. Paul,

    Good words to those who are part of God’s Kingdom.

    I pray that you’ll experience God’s presence in your grief as you morn for fellow pastors. I also pray that you would continue to guard your heart against even the most subtle enticements the enemy would place in your path.


  2. my heart grieves for the church and for the leaders called to serve Her (the church). I with you my friend, I want to stay in the race. Let’s do this with Christ’s help and enduring strength- let’s do this.

  3. Amen. We are praying for our Pastors and those Pastors that served our community previously. All who read this please join us. It is a battle.
    Thank you.

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