Who doesn’t love a lengthy list of difficult to pronounce names? I’m sure the genealogies sprinkled throughout the Old Testament are some of the most precious parts of the Bible to you. And I bet you’ve never passed over them in your Bible reading or in a sermon series.
First, let me get the obvious out of the way. Apologies for the “clickbait” title, but there’s no real sure-fire way to affair-proof your pastor. A man set on sin will have his way no matter how watchful and loving his support system. To put it another way, and to be even clearer, when a pastor commits adultery, he is at fault. It’s not his wife’s fault, not his congregation’s fault, not “the culture”‘s fault. It’s not even the devil’s fault. Our sin is ours.
And yet, it’s very rare for pastors to jump straight into physical adultery from an otherwise healthy place. Lots of ground is given an inch at a time leading up to the fall. So if you’re like me, you’re weary of seeing man after man fall, seemingly week by week, and you’re wondering: Is there anything we can do?
Selfish ambition is not new to our culture. Five hundred years before Christ, God sent the prophet Haggai to speak to his people about their sinful ambition. They were consumed with building lavish houses but were indifferent to God’s house lying in ruins after it was ransacked by the Babylonians.
We would be wise to heed Haggai’s message today. God wants his people to have a holy ambition. But how do we make sure our ambitions are holy and not selfish? In the words of Haggai, we must consider our ways.
I recently had a disturbing but unsurprising conversation with a Rooted supporter who builds hotels and conference centers. While visiting one, the owner told him they sell more pornographic pay-per-view movies during youth ministry conferences than any other industry sector.
This statement does not surprise a veteran student pastor. You’ve seen enough colleagues struggle, resign, or fall. It is not uncommon to see youth and college pastors lose their jobs due to porn use, addiction, double lives, or inappropriate relationships with students.
I’ll challenge you in moment, but first, an encouragement: if you are aware that you struggle to forge friendships, then you’re further along than you may feel. Our culture is experiencing a friendship famine—at least in terms of true friendship. Many don’t even realize they’ve been on a starvation diet of deep relationships. So, be heartened that you realize your need. Awareness is progress.
But how do you move forward from here? I’ll share a few things you should know, and a few steps you should take.
The married couples and children who make up blended families bring the same giftedness and value to a congregation as anyone else. But there are a few things to keep in mind when welcoming such a family into your congregation or trying to more deeply connect with them.
A favorite from the archives:
I’m not unaccustomed to visiting churches other than my own. I’m not a church shopper, mind you. But I do travel a fair bit. So whenever I’m away from my home church, I do my best to visit another church nearby. Although I miss my church when I’m away, it’s refreshing to know that I can connect with others, too. That despite my being a relative stranger, I am also recognized as family.
And that’s an attitude I want to be careful to protect and nurture. Despite the tendency toward individualism in our culture (and in my own heart at times), I’m never really alone. Because I am in Christ, I can go to any faithful Christian church and feel more or less at home. Sure, some of the cultural context will be different, but we have the main thing in common: Christ.
If we are in Christ, we are family.