There are many pastors that are showing something in public and a totally different stuff in their private life. Some call this a double life. Spiritual schizophrenia.
I was very surprised, taking a break from my reading of Paul Tripp’s, Dangerous Calling, to see an article on Gospel Coalition by Ronnie Martin, written nearly on the same topic. He is speaking about a fellow pastor that “lost his way”, to use Tripp’s words. He describes the following scenario:
It was nothing “scandalous” at all, really. It was that he lied.
When asked how he was doing, he always replied, “Great!” When asked what he needed prayer for, he always offered some generic request.
He kept things guarded, impersonal, and close to the vest, even when others around him shared the depths of their heart. I don’t think I ever heard him apologize to anyone for anything, ever.
Yet he smiled a lot. He laughed heartily and kept things as “positive” as possible. But I saw how the people closest to him were positively crushed by his lack of vulnerability. I was one of them
The unbelievable aspect in this story is that Ronnie himself soon realized that is very tempted to lie also about his condition. Mentoring a young man, he was challanged to be honest.
I repented to him, praying that God would destroy the pride that kept me from sharing my heart to others. Pride is always the root problem. I wanted people to see me as someone who didn’t need the gospel as bad as I was telling them they needed it.
Praise God that the Holy Spirit faithfully reveals what our hearts conceal. Praise God that those no one hidden in Christ needs to hide anything any longer.
Now, this has a happy ending and it’s quite a gentle story compared with the painful and scary things you’ll find in Tripp’s book. It’s quite an embarrassing, humbling book and you may feel tempted to say that it’s speaking to a small number of ministers, but from his experience(and mine) that’s not true.
There are many pastors in trouble out there and they don’t even realise the danger. Inspired title, Dangerous Calling. Fortunately you can know if you are “losing your way”. There are some main signs, a pattern you can see and use to examine yourself, like:
– ignoring the clear evidence of problems.
– being blind to the issues of your own heart.
– not preaching the Gospel to yourself.
– not listening to the people closest to you.
– ministry became burdensome.
– you’re starting to live in silence.
– you question your calling.
– you gave way to fantasies of another life.
Like in Ronnie’s case, there is help for you. I know it was for me when I needed it. God and many good intended Christians can help you get through this dry moments of your ministry.