9 Radical Steps Pastors Take Toward Obedience

Jesus was clear that we must strive to eradicate sin from our lives, even if doing so would be costly: “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matt. 5:29). He was speaking illustratively, but His point was clear: do what it takes to get sin out of your life.

With that teaching in mind, here are nine radical steps I’ve seen various pastors and staff do to avoid temptation and maintain their integrity:

  1. Getting rid of a cell phone. If you face temptation on your phone (and can’t find a filter that you can’t go around), you may need to dump it and return to using a landline.
  2. Asking a hotel to remove a TV from the room. Calling ahead of time allows a guest to avoid any temptation on the television.
  3. Finding a prayer partner who prays you will die before you do anything that brings disgrace on the name of Jesus.  This one’s challenging, but I’ve known pastors who commit to praying for each other this way.
  4. Copying a spouse on every email exchange with a female. If you faithfully and consistently do that, you’ll avoid a lot of temptation. And, your spouse will likely recognize if another woman is making Internet advances toward you.
  5. Refusing to counsel a member of the opposite gender without his spouse present. A church might not understand this move, but it guards against any relationships beginning in the counseling room.
  6. Memorizing entire books of the Bible to focus on God. It’s much harder to fall into sin if you’re daily working on knowing large sections of scripture.
  7. Enlisting an accountability partner from within the church. Some folks recommend that accountability partners should be outside the church, but accountability within the church bears weight. No pastors want to harm a church by their sinful choices, and most would want to avoid having to tell a church member about their sin.
  8. Working away from the office to avoid times when only the pastor and the female assistant are in the building. The pastor and assistant can still connect via email and phone if necessary, but it’s tougher to have an affair if you’re never alone.
  9. Leaving a church to avoid temptation. I’ve seen this step happen only once, but the pastor felt it best simply to flee the temptation. 

What are your thoughts about these ideas? 


  • Cindy says:

    Excellent steps for everyone, not just pastors. Thank you for this.

  • Great counsel. Here are some other practices I suggest and practice:
    1) Always counsel in office with door open when counselling a member of opposite gender.(This assumes that other staff are also in office area.)
    2) Always sit across the desk so that there is a physical barrier between you and opposite gender.
    3) Never furnish transportation to other opposite gender staff or congregation alone or accept transportation from same.
    4) Utilize same safety procedures in church classrooms that are intentionally built to be observable and interruptible.
    5) Use extra care to not touch inappropriately or hug inappropriately either publicly or privately.
    Neil Norheim

  • Allen Lawless says:

    I would add that each of us need to clearly take a look at the television shows that we watch. Then, seriously evaluate if we shouldn’t tear out both of our eyes before watching most shows that are offered today; no matter what your reasoning may be I.e. staying in tune with the culture, helping my sermons be relevant, they’re not really that bad, etc. Even a small helping of scantily clad women on tv goes a long way towards lusting in worse ways in the future. Perhaps do your best to memorize books of the Bible as suggested by Chuck, or any other Godly activity during the times that you would normally watch TV. Just a thought…..

  • John Carter says:

    3 and 6 are the most underrated options. I love both of them!

  • Janet Westmoreland says:

    I would like to suggest the possibility of a pastor including an older, godly woman whenever he needs to counsel a woman whose husband is not able to be present. This opens up the door for the two women to build a Titus 2 relationship.

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