When the news of another pastor’s moral failure makes its way into the public eye, is your first reaction one of sarcasm and jadedness or does it cause you to weep and hit your knees in prayer? It seems easier to get angry or grow cynical when those in the pulpit fall into grave sin and disappoint those who have attributed much of their spiritual growth from their teaching. Instead of wagging our fingers or shaking our head in disappointment, it should truly break our hearts when leaders in the church fall.
There is a stern warning found in the book of James that should cause us pause to reflect upon the great and weighty responsibility that pastors carry as teachers of God’s Word:
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1, ESV).
This verse begins a chapter in the book of James that focuses on the importance of the tongue and its ability to either bring encouragement and growth or hostility and destruction. We will all be held accountable for the words we speak, but for those who teach the Bible, there is a higher standard. With a higher standard comes a stronger judgement from God. This should motivate us to pray for teachers, especially those who pastor our own local church.
In America (and perhaps even around the world, thanks to television and social media), the gospel of Jesus Christ has become extremely muddied by false teaching full of false gospels, New Age/occult/pagan practices, lying signs and wonders, and distractions from worldly desires that are all leading many to false Christs.
For almost half of our marriage, my husband and I were among those believers who were believing lies from the result of the twisting of scripture and emotional, mental, and spiritual manipulation from leaders in ministry whom we trusted. By God’s grace, we were rescued from this deception and now attend a sound and Biblical church that has been such a blessing to our family. Every week, the elders preach the Word of God with such conviction and clarity and are unashamed about the gospel. Although we finally feel “safe,” we know that these men of God are susceptible to the same temptations as we are, and instead of growing comfortable or letting our guard down, we must fiercely pray for the men in our life who teach God’s Holy Word because Satan has put a giant target on their back. The enemy knows how much damage can be done to the Body of Christ if God’s Word is abused or distorted, but the same is true for the carriers of that message; A teacher’s life is held to a higher standard because the Lord uses teachers to help us understand who He is. The weighty responsibility and calling of bringing truth to the sheep of God is one no one should have to bear alone. Let us shoulder Kingdom responsibility with our elders by making it a priority to daily pray for the teachers and pastors who give much influence to our spiritual well-being.
In the age we live in, we can know personal details of public figures very quickly and easily. It seems there is always a new Christian leader who has given into fleshly temptation and taken advantage of the trust of their sheep. This should cause us heartache and wake us up to the reality that the enemy wants to cause destruction among God’s people. These moral failings cause distrust among sheep, but they also hurt our witness to the world when they see the hypocrisy and corruption within the visible church. Lord, please give us a burden to pray for church leaders, but more importantly, the leaders of our very own church who have given their lives to shepherd souls and teach others about You and Your ways. We are called to make disciples and need to be equipped by Your Word to do that. You have called teachers and pastors to a higher standard to equip the Body for the work of the ministry by teaching us what Your Word says. May we be quick to lift them up every day, knowing the seriousness of their high calling as teachers of Your Holy Word. In Jesus’ name, amen.