PITFALLS FOR THE MINISTER
BY CLEVELAND M. BECTON
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (I Peter 5:8-9).
Satan would like to get everyone to fail God, especially a minister. The reason that he wants ministers to fall is because of the great influence they have on those to whom they minister.
Many areas in a minister’s life are subject to temptation. Let us list a few of them, beginning with finances. Included in the list of
subjects that Paul wanted Timothy to be careful about was money. “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Timothy 6:10). A minister must be exact on money matters. All the preaching a person may do will not atone for financial looseness or irregularity. Everyone can make innocent mistakes along this line, but the minister should be very careful whenever he incurs any obligation that will be unusually heavy for him. Financial accountability in the ministry is one of the greatest subjects in today’s news media.
A minister must keep abreast with the ever-changing tax laws so that he will arrange his finances to comply. The Internal Revenue Service is looking more and more into church and minister finances. It is not necessary to panic over this, but a minister should have a cooperative attitude and acquire basic knowledge of what is required. Of course, there is a higher power than the Internal Revenue Service to which a minister must be accountable; he will give account to God’s law, which is above every other law.
Let us note another area that is a pitfall designed by Satan. Men in ministry are vulnerable to sexual temptation because they work with women of various kinds. Since ministers are by occupation a sympathetic listener to women with problems they may find women drawn to them. Counseling sessions can expose them to potential romantic or sexual temptations.
It is important to maintain safety in this area. First and foremost, a minister must have a continuous romance with his spouse. Most of those who get into trouble have allowed marriage to become dull, unsatisfying, even unfriendly. Without a doubt, being in love with one’s mate provides the best defense against adultery.
Some ministers have fallen prey to the idea that feelings are uncontrollable. An age-old and often repeated myth is, “I had no
intention of becoming involved with her, but suddenly we realized we were deeply in love.”
Rationalization tries to give a man permission to fall in love with another woman without admitting unfaithfulness to his wife. But Jesus’ words, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21), can apply to romantic relationships as well as to the kingdom of God.
A minister must avoid every appearance of evil and every opportunity for wrong. He must avoid being alone with a woman. Long periods alone with a woman will not only raise suspicion but can also leave him vulnerable to false accusations or temptation. No matter how safe and innocent a situation may begin, it can turn into a dangerous trap if precautions are not taken.
A heathen king by the name of Abimelech will stand in judgment against all fallen ministers. When he took Abraham’s wife, Sarah, into his home, God came to him in a dream and warned him. He replied, “In the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. And God said unto him in a dream, Yea I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her” (Genesis 20:5-6). God withheld Abimelech from sinning because of the integrity of his heart.
In Titus 1:7 Paul gave further warning about a pitfall: ‘For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed.” A self-willed minister builds the world around himself. He is his own authority. His love for power motivates him into thinking that he must always have his way about everything. A careful look at Romans 12:10 will correct this problem: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.”
In closing, two other verses of Scripture give a minister strength, encouragement, and direction: “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing” (II Thessalonians 3:13).
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED IN THE OCTOBER-DECEMBER, 1994 ISSUE OF FORWARD NEWSLETTER, AND WAS WRITTEN BY CLEVELAND M. BECTON.
THIS MATERIAL HAS BEEN COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR RESEARCH AND STUDY PURPOSES ONLY.