“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” | Proverbs 4:23
If you’ve been reading the headlines lately regarding the Southern Baptist Convention, you’d recognize that we have stepped away from doctrinal “discussions” and have moved on to seeing certain individuals whose character is being questioned (rightfully) and even some individuals who are encountering moral failure.
As Pastors, we don’t step into ministry thinking, “Well, I’ll do this about X amount of years and then I’ll encounter specific sin that will disqualify me from ministry causing me to be fired from the pulpit, separated from my family, and alienated from my friends.” That’s just not a thought that seeps into our minds when we step into ministry. However, this happens to people in ministry, and outside of ministry. Sin creeps in.
I have had several discussions with my wife lately in regards to this by reassuring her that my ultimate desire is to bring glory to God by being faithful to His calling and to my bride and family. But, I have also made her aware, that the majority of men (and women) who have encountered moral failure in the ministry did not plan to encounter this. Sin creeps in.
We must be aware.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. | 1 Peter 5:8
Our Enemy has a plan. He knows that those who are truly saved by the grace of God cannot be completely devoured. But, they can be defeated by their sin in ministry and in life in general. My biggest fear is not losing my Church, it’s losing my wife and kids. We must be aware that the Enemy will come after us if we are truly saved.
I ask my Church repeatedly to be praying for my family and I, our youth pastor and his family, our worship director and his family, and everyone in leadership and their family. Because the Enemy is like a roaring lion, ready to pounce and devour.
Don’t allow anything in this world to tempt or sway you from obeying God. We must be sober-minded. We must be focused on Christ and His Word and what He has called us to do. Be watchful. The Enemy will use whatever He can to cause you to fall. When we begin to fill our lives with thoughts, material, and sin, we are headed on the path that veers off a cliff.
We need to set up some guard rails.
I hate driving through the mountains. I’m not afraid of heights. I’m afraid of falling from great heights. But what encourages me is the guardrails that are set up in case you begin to veer off the road. We must set up guard rails in our lives that will help prevent us from falling into sin.
First and foremost, I’m with Mike Pence and Billy Graham on this. DO NOT FIND YOURSELF ALONE WITH SOMEONE OF THE OPPOSITE SEX THAT IS NOT YOUR SPOUSE. You may think you won’t be tempted, but the Enemy is no idiot. I believe Billy Graham once said, and I’m paraphrasing, that if you are alone with someone of the opposite sex, it’s possible you might not have an affair with them. But, if you are NEVER alone with someone of the opposite sex, you will NEVER have an affair with them.
Secondly, guard yourself from yourself. You know your weaknesses, your own sin. You know where and when you feel tempted the most. Set up guardrails to where these instances cannot happen. For example, if you are tempted with porn, don’t place yourself alone on a device that can access it without any kind of software that blocks it. Find yourself an accountability partner and sign up with CovenantEyes. Know your weaknesses, and guard yourself from yourself.
Thirdly, find joy in the Gospel of Jesus. I believe D.L. Moody once said, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible” Soak up God’s Word. Rest in the promises of God throughout Scripture. Trust in Him as your refuge and strength.
Guard your heart.
A good man once told me that you can always find another Church, but you can’t find another family. Don’t just guard your heart for the sake of your ministry, but do for the sake of your family, your primary ministry. We are not perfect. We are far from it. But, we are weak. We are sinful. Guard your heart.