Even Jesus was tempted. What makes us think we won’t be?
Of course the enemy tries to tempt a believer. His single goal is to distract us from a total devotion to Christ. Temptation is the major tool in his arsenal.
And, in my experience, there are times we are more easily tempted.
When temptation has an easier way —
When you’re tired
When you’re alone
When you’re sick
When your spiritual life is dry
When peer pressure is strong
Are any of distractions causing you to fall into temptation?
Granted, we can’t avoid some of these times — some we can — but there will be times when we are alone, times when we are tired, times we get sick, etc. The key isn’t to avoid those times as much as we aware of the increase in temptations during them.
For example, when we are alone — and know we will be tempted — is a good time to practice the discipline of prayer or Bible study.
It’s easier to avoid temptation — and God promises the strength to do so — when we are aware of the root causes.
This is a guest post by my friend Dr. Jennifer Degler. Jennifer pulls no punches. But, she’s a difference maker in the Kingdom. I’m thankful for her influence.
If you are a pastor considering or engaging in an affair, may I offer you points to ponder from a psychologist who has been honored to work with hurting people on all sides of an affair?
1) The biggest lie you are telling yourself is “I am attracted to my affair partner because of things that are wrong with my spouse.”
Here’s the truth: “I am attracted to my affair partner because of things that are wrong in me.” An affair will not fix what’s wrong with you. Having an emotional or sexual affair is using another person as a pain reliever. They are your Oxycodone, your drug of choice. You are using him or her as a distraction from your brokenness.
The bottom line: an affair is using another person in the worst way and calling it love.
2) You are thinking like a narcissist if you believe things like “The importance of my ministry should earn me a pass on church discipline or making apologies” or “I don’t need to step down from leadership” or “Exceptions should be made for me” or even “I am entitled to this affair.”
Bottom line: You are not that special. None of us are.
3) Your affair or “inappropriate relationship” (the latest euphemism) will come out eventually.
Don’t fool yourself; it’s going to be uncovered and made public. Thanks to social media, thousands of people will know within days.
Bottom line: Anyone who Googles your name will find your affair on the first page of search results.
4) When your secret is exposed, your family, friends, staff, and church members will feel violated, and those who have deeper emotional wounds from an alcoholic, abusive, self-absorbed, or absent parent or spouse will be affected in ways you can’t even imagine.
The current betrayal and abandonment they feel in reaction to your actions will stir up old hurts. They had grown to trust you as their pastor, to believe they had finally found a truly good man or woman who loved them too much to lie. Your affair will leave them reeling.
Best case scenario: they share their emotional upheaval with caring friends and a counselor. Their church pulls together to provide support for many months.
More common scenario: they deal with their emotional upheaval by either 1) checking out (shutting down emotionally, withdrawing from others, or leaving the organized church, perhaps forever) or 2) acting out (self-destructive behaviors like drinking or eating too much, diving into unwise relationships, etc.).
Bottom line: Your affair will shipwreck wounded people who already struggle to keep afloat emotionally.
5) There is hope for the minister who’s had an affair.
It starts with confessing to your spouse, trusted friends, an elder board or personnel committee, and then cutting off all contact with your affair partner.
In the weeks (and consequences) to follow, you may regret confessing when you see the devastation in your family and ministry. You will spend precious time and money on counseling that you may doubt can help you. You will wonder if God can make you whole. You may hate yourself.
It will be the most awful time of your life.
But you will also feel relief when you have nothing to hide.
Your dedication to recovery will help you regain the respect of your children and friends. With tremendous work, your marriage can heal. People will move on to other gossip. You will someday like yourself again.
Bottom line: If you will go through the firestorm ignited when a pastor admits an affair, you will see God bring beauty from the ashes of your life.
There is hope for you, Pastor.
Jennifer Degler, Ph.D.
This is an opinion post. For that matter — this is an opinion blog.
And, I have an opinion.
I think pastors should support their community.
When I was in business I supported the businesses in my community.
I shopped local — and small, independently owned business — whenever possible. I bought cars locally, for example, even though I might have saved a few hundred dollars down the road. I did the majority of my spending with local businesses.
That didn’t mean we didn’t travel — and purchase goods when we did — but when we shopped, we primarily shopped local. The Chamber of Commerce “shop local” campaigns worked for us.
If you own a local business, I think you owe it to support the community that helps to feed you. Even if your products are shipped elsewhere, your labor market is likely fairly local. The emergency services, roads, etc. to support the business. All local. Whenever possible — from cars to dentists, to groceries — the more you invest in the local economy the more it can invest in you.
<h3>And I think the same is true for pastors.</h3>
There’s nothing wrong with occasional online purchases, but for the bulk of shopping, we should support the community that supports us and that we hope to reach.
We should invest in the community — because as it prospers, so will the church. Not only for financial reasons either. It is difficult to engage people in the community in which I live when I’m shopping behind a computer or in a bigger city down the road.
That’s my opinion. Again, this is an opinion post.
And, there’s somewhat of a Biblical encouragement to do so.
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. Jeremiah 29:7
What do you think?
Are the routines and details of your life getting you down?
Is the direction of your life not turning out as you planned?
Are you stressing so much about things that are happening — out of your control — that you can’t enjoy the good things already in your life?
Here’s one suggestion for more joy in the journey…
Throw away the scripts.
The script you’ve written about how life is “supposed to go”. Throw it away. In the trash.
Any script you could write likely won’t work anyway.
Most of the time.
You can throw away the script in:
Your relationship life
Your personal walk with God
And, the script you’ve written for what your children will and will not do — throw that script away also.
Throw them away.
I know we like scripts.
It’s easier. Less messy when we can script things out the way they should work. The way we want them to. It’s cleaner. Life is more tidy with scripts.
Most of us have written scripts in our minds about how life supposedly will work for us.
But, scripts just don’t work. Most of the time.
Life doesn’t follow the script we write for it. In fact, it seldom does in my experience.
You’ll seldom be able to script how long you work at one place. Just try.
You’ll seldom be able to script your relationships. Specifically, how others respond to you. Even the way you respond to them. Try as much as you want and you’ll still say the wrong things — be misunderstood — have to keep working on the relationship. I know some great attempts that failed.
You’ll seldom be able to script your health. Some of the healthiest people I know got cancer.
You’ll seldom be able to script your bank account. One tragedy and everything could be gone. I have seen it many times. I’ve lived it. Script and all.
And, you’re walk with God. You’ll seldom be able to understand all the ways of God. Strive the hardest to please God, follow Him closely, and you’ll still have unanswered questions about why God allows some of the things He allows in your life. Testimony after testimony proves this.
And, just when you said your kid would never — your kid will — or so the story goes for so many.
I’m not saying to not have a plan.
I’m not saying not to set an end goal or destination. That would be dumb. Really dumb.
You’ll seldom hit a target you didn’t aim to hit.
I’m talking about the script. The “dialogue” along the way. The exact setting and all the characters and the special effects. The journey to accomplish the vision. The details. The way things get done or accomplished. Don’t be afraid when your story sometimes colors outside the lines. Or goes off script.
Sometimes it’s good just to throw away the script.
I watch so many people stress about the details of life — the things outside their ability to control — that they miss the joy in the journey.
When people completely rely on a script — the one they have written for their life — they sometimes fall apart when things don’t go exactly as written. They have a hard time getting back into character. And, they have a hard time adjusting to the other characters in their life who went off script.
And, yet, the show must go on…
Things will seldom turn out just as planned.
Granted, having a plan helps you adjust accordingly and more easily, so I say have one — I even write posts telling you how — but the script will seldom live up completely to the paper upon which it’s written. Certainly not in every scene.
Throw away the script. You’ll stress less when you can’t remember the lines.
“In his heart a man plans his steps, but the Lord determines his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” – Ecclesiastes 11:5
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the LORD’s declaration.” – Isaiah 55:8