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:
- 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.
- Asking a hotel to remove a TV from the room. Calling ahead of time allows a guest to avoid any temptation on the television.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?