Recently I received a letter from another pastor who failed. This all too common an occurrence struck closer to home, since it directly affected members of my immediate family.
When those who are to lead us spiritually fail, it is unsettling, affecting our faith and destabilizing our trust, perhaps even in God, but it need not be so.
We should not be overly surprised by pastoral failure, because the Bible describes all of us as sinners, prone to fall, and, although we try to select qualified and tested individuals to lead us, pastors fail also. Judas, one selected by the Savior, failed, as did Adam and Eve whose only Father was God. Therefore, we should not be overly surprised at failure.
Although God has equipped us to succeed in life, we also have a hideously destructive nature embedded within us. If extreme care is not taken, that destructive nature will destroy us.
When unreasonable pressure is consistently and constantly placed upon a pastor, the temptation to fall becomes greater. This means that churches and individuals bear some responsibility for some pastor’s failures. We are all human beings who can be broken. It may be that a pastor is battling a sin that is seeking to dominating him and the pressure of pastoring makes his battle more than he is willing to endure. Sinful habits take over with the resulting failure. This on-going battle is why we can be growing under a pastor while he is struggling with sin. As he battles his sinful tendencies and confesses his sin, he is able to minister effectively, but when he gives in to sin, he is walking according to the flesh and bad things happen. But we need to remember, there is no man or woman who does not sin.
That being said, we still expect our leaders to be men of God who will not shrink in the day of adversity–this is why we chose them. So the question remains; Who can we trust?
We Can Trust in God
Not only my theology, but also the experiences of my 63 year old life has shown me that I can trust God. In His Word, God has taught me to confess my sins, and He promises me that He will forgive all of my sins. I also know that once I became God’s child, through the redemption provided by my Savior, I will always remain His. Even when I need disciplining, He will not disown me. I have experienced the saving and renewing hand of God now for 43 years, and He has not failed me. I can trust in Him.
God has worked with me all these years to develop a relationship with Him that is tangible, sustaining. This intimate, trusting relationship with God is available to all of us. It is this relationship that will keep us when our leaders fail.
So, in summary, the way to stay steady when those you trust fail you, is by trusting in and walking closely with God. Realize that, while men may fail, God will not fail. He will sustain you in a relationship that may be characterized as intimate. When you nurture this relationship with God, you become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
I hope to write more about this soon.