I was talking with my dad the other day when he made that all-to-familiar and sad statement: “Did you hear about Pastor ___________? He’s been having an affair.”
Stephen Olford paraphrased Proverbs 6:32-33 – “Whoever commits adultery is stupid!” He was right. Sin makes you stupid. It causes you to become blind to the consequences that always follow your fall.
So, let me share with you a very brief listing of what happens when a pastor falls into sexual sin.
These results follow and are only in addition to the great, irreparable damage it will do to the pastor’s marriage and family. (If it lasts, your marriage will never be the same and your children will be irrevocably scarred.)
It removes the anointing of God from your life.
I think that this is the most devastating result of such disqualifying sin in the life of a pastor. Will God forgive you if you repent and seek His forgiveness? Certainly. But you will likely realize that you no longer enjoy the anointing of God on your life as you did before you sinned.
It causes some to doubt their salvation.
Many of those you led to Christ will feel that moment tainted in memory. Right or wrong, they will begin to question, “If the one who led me to pray and repent of my sin was doing that were my sins truly forgiven?” Your sin will cause countless people to stumble in their faith.
It makes many distrust pastors in general.
I grew up during the days of the public downfall of Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart. I saw how their fall affected how people viewed pastors as a whole. It doesn’t make it right, but it is a fact: As pastors, we are no longer held in respect as we once were because of their sin. Your fall will further validate that distrust.
It leads to division in the church.
It is bad enough to see a church divided over silly bickering and stubbornness over such things as the color of the carpet or how many drumsticks to order for a potluck dinner. It’s far worse to see the unity of the church destroyed as congregants pick sides because of the pastor’s public sin.
It destroys the spiritual covering that a pastor provides for a congregation.
I’ve seen this in countless churches. When a pastor falls into sin, it has a ripple effect throughout the congregation, and other couples and individuals begin to fall. Why? Becuase, the pastor, is placed in the church to provide a spiritual umbrella, but when he falls that protection in removed and sin begins to run rampant.
It harms the witness of the local church.
Your sin won’t just be mentioned in hushed whispered in the hallways of your church. It will be talked about and mocked at the lunch tables, around the water coolers and in the bleachers of your city. Your church will become connected with your sin and thus do great damage to the witness of your church.
It gives the enemy a terrible victory.
The scripture tells us that “to whom much is given, from him much will be required.” Here is a principle that teaches us that getting a pastor to fall is a far greater victory than just tempting a person in the pew to fall. Thus, your fall will set off a party in hell as they celebrate their victory.
It undermines the marriages you officiated.
One of the most meaningful time in my life as a pastor is walking with a couple through their premarital counseling sessions all the way to the altar and hearing them say, “I do.” Your fall will do extensive damage to the marriages you are a part of by your time and ministry.
It validates media stereotypes of pastors.
Again, I cannot reiterate enough how we need not fan the flame of distrust already in the media and culture. The rest of the world needs to see strong life witnesses from every pastor, not depravity and shame. Don’t further the mocking stereotypes we see on late night television or the movies by your sin.
It leads other pastors to justify the sin in their life.
I’ve noticed in the past year or so that when a prominent pastor fell that not long after that there was another, and then another, and then another. It was unnerving. I wonder if seeing a pastor sin, and seemingly get away with it for a while didn’t temp other pastors to try it which led to their eventual downfall. Remember pastor, what you do in the dark will ultimately be seen in the light. You can not sin and get away with it. Dont’ do it. It’s not worth it.