“Sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, cost you more than you would ever want to pay.’ This quote was made by Ravi Zacharias.
In the Bible we have the story of King David as a perfect example of the truth of Ravi’s words. Starting with neglecting his duty by not being with his army during a significant battle, then adultery, betrayal, deceit and ending up with murder.
I wonder, now, if Ravi didn’t speak these words as an echo of his own broken soul. I think he was a man who wanted to honour God with his life. But he was also a man in whose heart sin had wreaked all kinds of havoc and Ravi had somehow justified his behaviour in his own mind.
Sadly, this is a common pattern for many ministry leaders today. They enter into ministry as normal men with flaws, sin patterns, and areas in need of sanctification, just like anyone else. They are trained to understand and exposit the Bible, to lead the church, and to build the ministry. And, along the way, the institution assumes their personal, emotional, and sexual health are all growing at the same pace as their ministry capability.
The truth is; that their soul—like all of ours—is still desperately in need of being discipled and trained into wholeness and holiness. The only catch is, for the leader, this permission—this pathway—does not exist. Once the leader is in place, the institution expects him or her to have it all together and to lead his congregation well, and certainly not struggle with sexual sin. And if they do? Well then, at this point, the easiest thing to do is hide it or lie about it. The environment that has been created in Christian ministry inadvertently encourages the leader to perform well and hide the negative issues of their personal life.
Nearly 100 years ago, German Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wisely stated:
“The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are all sinners.” (Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p. 110. HarperOne, 1954.)
In the following scripture, David tells us of the consequences of hiding our sin it adversely affects our body and how we function.
“For when I kept silent (about my sin), my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah” Psalms 32:3-5
Every leader needs to have mentors, a place of true accountability. True accountability means that the leader has a safe, trusted group of peers they purposefully choose to go to with everything.
Culturally, even within the church, the following questions are never addressed. Why is our sexuality holy? Why is gender important? Why does intercourse illustrate the same kind of oneness God desires to have with us? Why is marriage sacred? Why is repentance so important?
Parents also need to understand a 15 year-long conversation about sex is far more effective than several “talks” at various stages of life. There is no shame or embarrassment in talking about something God created.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” Mark 9:42