Those who enter the full-time ministry will find that they are certainly not immune to temptations. Sadly enough, we sometimes hear of pastors and Christian leaders whose ministries and testimonies have been ruined by their falling into sins of immorality, dishonesty, etc. We are grieved and ask ourselves, “How could that happen? How do people who love the Lord and know His Word and who have been so greatly used of God—how do they fall into such terrible sin?”
If the truth were known, probably the people involved ask themselves the same questions. Usually it happens in little steps, little decisions that are made that lead to other decisions, and eventually we find ourselves in a place we don’t want to be. We know that Satan actively works to defeat Christians and destroy the ministry of anyone who is being used of God, and too often we let him, and give him the ammunition to destroy us. When he tempts Christian workers, he usually begins in such subtle ways that we are not even aware of sin.
Someone has written these five temptations for those in the ministry. This list is a good summary to temptations that you will face.
* To whine—some are full of self-pity.
* To shine—some do a great deal of boasting about their work.
* To dine—many are overweight.
* To recline—many are lazy.
* To resign—many give up with the going gets tough.
Here are some areas that we need to be very careful about:
* Being overly critical and judgmental of others. It is easy to see the sin of others, and then to let our horror of the sin to affect our love for the person. It is also easy to be harsh in our judgment when we don’t think Christians are growing as fast as they should. Or when they don’t listen to our advice and fall into sin again. Watch out for a critical spirit. This attitude often comes from the sin of pride, which is just as wicked in the sight of God.
* Being “professional” towards spiritual things, which causes us to lose our sensitivity. No one is in church more than the preacher’s wife and family. If we are not careful, serving the Lord becomes ‘old hat’ and we lose the freshness of our walk with the Lord. We need to watch for this attitude in our children also. Teach them to respect the church and the church property as belonging to the Lord. You must work at keeping your walking with the Lord and your relationship with Him fresh and alive.
* Developing spiritual calluses about our own needs. We can see the sin of others, but it is so hard to see and admit our own sin. After awhile, it becomes easier to excuse it, and see it as not really sin. Soon we can just gloss right over it, and pretend it is not there. We need to be sure that we don’t become blinded by our vanity, but see our sin as God sees it. Ask the Lord to give you His perspective of your sin from the Word of God.
* Indulging in self-pity. Many preacher’s wives live in the slough of despond, always complaining about their lot in life. No one has it quite as hard as they do. No one else has made quite as many sacrifices as they have. No one else understands living on such a meager salary. No one appreciates the time her husband spends serving the church. On and on it goes. Ladies, be careful about self-pity. It is a monster that will eat you up. A sure cure for self-pity is to rehearse your blessings!
* Becoming discouraged. It is very easy to become discouraged in the ministry. People will disappoint you. They will say hurtful things about you and your family. The church doesn’t grow as fast as you think it should. People don’t grow as fast as you think they should. Whenever we keep our eyes on people, we will get discouraged. That is why we need to keep our eyes on the Lord. Make it a practice to celebrate even the little things in life. This will keep you focused on the blessings instead of on the burdens.
* Becoming overly busy. There is always something to do, both at home and at church. If we are not careful, we fill our schedules, and don’t have time to spend with the Lord and with His Word. We substitute working for the Lord for a relationship with the Lord. It is also easy to neglect our family. Be careful of being too busy, even doing good things.
* Jealousy. The green-eyed monster of jealousy has ruined more than one preacher’s ministry. This comes from looking at what others have and comparing it with what you don’t have. It is easy to want to compare ourselves among ourselves, but God says that is not wise to do.
* Perfectionism. It is easy to think that no one can do it quite as well as we can, and in doing so, we rob others of the joy of serving, and we run ourselves into the ground by trying to do too much. We need to remember that others grow and learn by doing. Learn to share responsibilities and to designate tasks to others. Don’t try to do it all yourself!