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Who’s Got Your Back?
“The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard” (Isaiah 58:8).
By Wayde I. Goodall
I recently became aware of the sad news concerning a pastor friend’s moral compromise. Part of the outcome meant that he and his wife resigned their church, and that a large congregation is now trying to find a new leader. The ripple effect will hit untold people, sabotage ministry possibilities, and have a widespread negative effect on the kingdom of God. I’m trying to find ways to reach out to this couple.
When we hear of these tragic situations we must remind ourselves that, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). As friends (while not approving of what they do) we can be there for them, help them heal, and hopefully, learn and grow through their tragic experience.
A few years back, I wrote Why Great Men Fall … out of a sense of urgency. We had witnessed the devastation of some popular Christian leaders who had fallen, and all of us likely had some idea about the devastation that was caused to the ministry that God had entrusted to them.
This stuff shakes us up. While we need to be there for a friend when he or she stumbles, falls or worse, we also need to remind ourselves that all of us have feet of clay. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12, NKJV). In this world of constant bombardment of immoral standards (Internet, television, movies, billboards, advertisements, co-workers etc.) we have to guard our lives and protect that which is more valuable than life itself: our faith, family, and calling.
Some thoughts concerning marriage:
- Being in the clergy does not insulate a person from experiencing marital dysfunction.
- Anyone can be disconnected from those he/she is supposed to be close to: wife, husband, children, grandchildren, etc., especially those who have dynamic, powerful, upfront, successful lives.
- If this “anyone” happens to be a spiritual leader, he/she must do the basic thing that all of us must do … get help for his/her marriage or life issue.
- Along with some success in ministry, a person can easily get caught up in the “occupation,” “ministry,” and become disconnected from the people who were once near and dear.
Permit me to offer some boundaries and tips:
- Be honest with your spouse. The experts say, “Honesty is the trump card for preventing affairs.” Make a commitment to share your attractions and temptations. Dishonesty and deception cause affairs to flourish.
- Examine your marriage. Ask yourself if there is something missing, and then be willing to try and fix it.
- Daily watch for temptation. Do you feel connected with the person you work with? Is there sexual tension when you are around him or her? Do you find yourself thinking or daydreaming about him or her in a sexual way? Warning! These can easily develop into traps … avoid them!
- Don’t flirt. “That is how affairs start. Flirting is not part of an innocent friendship. If you think there might be a problem with someone you flirt with, there probably is a problem,” says Bonnie Eaker Weil, author of Make Up Don’t Break Up.
- The Internet can be your friend — or enemy. You can develop an emotional affair overnight online.
- Erase old relationships. Marital research expert, Dr. Shirley Glass (http://shirleyglass.com) says, “If you value your marriage, think twice about having lunch alone with one. Invite your partner along.” Better yet, stay away from old flings altogether.
- Work at growing intimacy in your marriage. Be great friends with your spouse. Be vulnerable, transparent, and have open conversations with him or her.
- Hang around with people with good or great marriages: Don’t hang out with people who fool around, bad-mouth their spouse, or are constantly flirting. Run with good company.
There are good reasons why some marriages are working and why others are not. Those of us in ministry … whether bivocational, laity, or full time … are normal human with feelings, temptations, and tests. At times I am reminded that there is a very real possibility that the enemy intensely attacks those who are a threat to him. You with your “high calling” are a threat to the one who would love to bring you down. You have Jesus as your Protector. Through your trust in Him and the boundaries that you choose to build into your life, you are going to make it.
Wayde Goodall, D.Min., dean, College of Ministry, Northwest University, Kirkland, Washington