The Heartbeat

Wine, women and song. Those are the three things that have often been pointed to as bringing pastors down. By "wine" is meant any addiction; by "women" is meant any affair; by "song" is meant laziness/sloth. Let's address all three here…

Wine. I don't even know if you drink. Neither Ruth nor I are drinkers, so wine, beer or any alcoholic beverage was never an issue with me. And as for drugs, I know little about them. They never held any attractiveness to me. Pornography could hold an attractiveness to me and I can only thank God that I was not even aware of it until late in my adolescence. Plus, I thank God for Ruth who has been a true help-mate to keep my heart focused on what is good. But be careful of any addiction, any vice.

Women. This is the area that has been probably most destructive to those pastors that do fall. Indeed, I have personally known now a good number of pastors whose lives of ministry were pretty well destroyed due to their getting involved with a woman. How does this happen? I would imagine it is a result of having some marital tension (something that nearly every couple has from time to time) and just at that time someone comes along who seems more than willing to enter into a relationship. My dad, a pastor for 60+ years, made it to very old age with no affairs by keeping a distance between himself and the women he encountered. To date, the same could be said of me. And while I somewhat regret that I have personally been so "stand offish" towards the women of the church, I am most thankful that I have made it (and am determined to make it to the end) without any hint of scandal. Just remember that if you compromise in this area you will likely throw away not only your pastorate, but your marriage and maybe even your eternal soul as well. As for counseling women, Chuck Swindoll offered the best advice I ever heard about that. He said simply, "If you have a counseling appointment with a woman…and you are looking forward to it…cancel it." So stay pure.

Song. Sloth…laziness. There is not a lot of oversight in a pastor's life. Even in those churches that have bishops – men who are to be overseers of local pastors – the oversight is minimal. For 30+ years I have kept a record of every day's labor and hours. The elders are aware of this and I am going to encourage you to do the same. But still, you could choose to follow the model of that fellow that I visited years ago who said his attitude towards pastoring was to "work hard for two years and then SLIDE." I hope you reject that model. Better is the model given to us by those in Broadway theater: "You're only as good as your next show," meaning, we have to always be pressing ahead, looking ahead, preparing for what is ahead…and never resting on the past.

Hand to the plow, man (Luke 9:62). Hand to the plow.

By His Grace,
Doug Winne

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