I thank God for the congregation I have the opportunity to minister to and with. I know they pray for me and the other pastors on staff. I know, because they tell me. I am very thankful for their prayers, and yesterday was a great example of why we need to uplift one another in prayer.
What do you think a pastor’s temptations are? What do you think your pastor would struggle with? What “fiery darts” of the wicked one do you think he must defend against? Does your mind go to “big” sins and temptations, or does it comprehend that your pastor might be tempted in “small” ways as well?
James 3:2: “…For we all stumble in many ways…”
Yesterday I was in Lafayette for a full day of Biblical Counseling training at Faith Ministries of Faith Church. During the lunch period, I decided to run an errand to Meijer and purchase a couple of shirts. I had about 5 or 6 items I needed to purchase and when it came time to check out, I used their “self-check out” lane. I scanned every item, placing it on the conveyor, swiping my card and then placed all the items in my shopping bag. I was pressed for time. I had about 5-10 minutes to make it back to the church, get to the lecture location and be ready for the rest of the day’s teaching and case observations. As I was almost to the church I pulled out my receipt and noticed that I only had one shirt that scanned properly. I had two shirts in the bag, but only paid for one. That was an immediate $20 “savings”.
I immediately began to struggle with the thoughts of keeping the shirt. I was successfully away from the store, no-one noticed, and certainly Meijer could “afford” to let this one shirt go. I debated heading back immediately to the store or heading to my lecture, now, minutes away. I attended the lecture. The receipt was stuffed in my jacket pocket and forgotten. The temptations pounded me for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening.
“…nobody noticed, nobody knows…”
“…Meijer can afford to lose this shirt, they are overpriced anyway…”
“…you’re from out of town and never have to go back, who will know?…”
“…it was an honest mistake, they’ll probably let you keep it anyway…”
On and on the assault came. I was scheduled through 9:00pm at the counseling center. I didn’t have any time to quickly run down the road and return the shirt. The struggle was in full force and I was battling just keeping my mind focused on my responsibilities.
I knew I had to return to the store and “re-purchase” the shirt. My integrity as a Christian, Pastor, and Counselor demanded it. As I left Faith Ministries and got into my car, I immediately began searching for my receipt. I could not find it. It wasn’t in my wallet, my pockets, my console…it wasn’t anywhere. Then I recalled having stuffed it into my coat pocket. I pulled it out. Sure enough, I only paid for one shirt. I drove the few miles to the store and walked in. I was sure it would be a hassle. Even walking across the parking lot, I was wondering why I was going to do this…”Surely, they will let you keep it out of the kindness of their hearts.” Nope. They kindly and graciously looked at my receipt, stated that this very thing happened often, and asked if my card was credit or debit. I swiped and smiled. Victory. The struggle was over, peace was present.
Here is what I want you to understand. Your pastor is not perfect. Never was. Never will be. He is tempted in every way imaginable. This is why it is important for you to uphold your pastor in prayer! Satan tries to poke and prod every chink in his armor. What would the damage be if I had kept the shirt? No-one would have known. No-one. However, God is clear about covering sin:
Numbers 32:23: “…but if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out…”
- Foremost of all, keeping the shirt would be a sin against my Lord. He would know. And he wouldn’t let me rest or go undisciplined.
- I would also have sinned against the corporation: Meijer. I would have taken inventory that had been purchased to sell for profit and kept them for what was rightfully theirs.
- I would have sinned against the employees of the store. Their wages, benefits and hours are all determined on the profitability of that particular store. I would have kept them from providing properly for their needs.
- I would have sinned against my family. I could not, with integrity, instruct my wife and children in right living having been a thief myself.
- I would also have sinned against my church. The people with whom I partner in ministry. I would have brought sin into our ministry, a stain to our testimony in our community.
Would you pray for your pastor? Would you do so on a regular basis? Pray for strength to battle the temptations he faces. He faces the same temptations you do. He is not a super Christian. He is not perfect. There has only been one perfect Shepherd that has ever walked the face of this earth, Jesus Christ. It is your pastor’s desire, and prayerfully yours as well, that you grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Praying for one another helps us accomplish that goal: pleasing God by living like Christ – not perfectly, but growing all the while!