If you do ministry long enough, you can learn from others what NOT to do—particularly when those choices led to trouble. Here are some of the problematic choices I’ve seen pastors and church staff members make:
- Refusing to admit growing feelings for another man’s wife. He was confronted long before the affair began, but he denied where his heart was headed.
- Sending an email or text before dealing with anger or frustration. His concern was legitimate, but his unhealthy response required an apology later.
- Using the pulpit to bully the congregation. He wasn’t preaching the Word; he was betraying his heart.
- Wrongly revealing somebody’s struggles. Maybe it was only an unintentional slip for this counselor, but it cost her years of earned trust.
- Lying on his resume. He got away with it for a while, but his choice eventually caught up with him.
- Failing to produce records of expenditures. He could provide no receipts, which made other church leaders question his integrity.
- Preaching somebody else’s material without attribution. It was not a smart move, especially when the sermon could be found online.
- Choosing not to refer when a counseling need was beyond her training. She loved the women she was mentoring, and she wanted to help solve everything for everybody–only to learn the hard way that we sometimes need the help of others.
- Paying little attention to tax laws. This pastor never intended to ignore tax laws for ministers – he simply didn’t ask enough questions or do enough homework to know what he needed to do.
- Assuming no one would see his computer’s search history. You probably know where this choice led . . . . he’s no longer in ministry.
- Denying an anger problem. Instead, he always “bowed up” to defend himself—which only reinforced the problem.
- Ignoring his personal spiritual disciplines because of ministry responsibilities. He burned out—which happens when you give yourself so fully to others that you don’t have energy or time to take care of your own walk with God.
If you see yourself in any of these descriptions, make a plan to address it/them. Let us know how we might pray for you.