Pastor, Don't Become a Statistic

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It seems like all the time there is news of another prominent Christian leader who has succumbed to a fall or moral failure. But how does this happen, and why so often? Peter Greer is President and CEO of HOPE International and author of several books including Mission Drift and The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good. In this post, he shares about the pervasive reality of moral failures among pastors and Christian leaders, giving practical insight on how they happen.

Peter gave the statistic that two-thirds of Christian leaders abuse their power in some way, causing harm to those they lead and love. What is your response to this statistic? How have you experienced such an abuse of power, whether by a friend, colleague, someone who had authority over you, etc.?
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When it comes to such abuses of power and moral failures, Peter noted that there is no immunity. If you are honest, where do you think you are most susceptible to fall to temptation? What safeguards have you put in place to protect yourself and your ministry?
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Can you relate to the concept of what Peter called, "Christian karma"? Have you ever been tempted to justify sin because of the good that you've done in God's name? Please Explain. How is that idea contrary to the message of the gospel?
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Acts 14:11-15 (ESV)

11And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”12Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.13And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.14But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out,15“Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When Paul and Barnabas saw praise directed at them instead of the Lord, they reacted with a vehement display, tearing their clothing. What is your initial reaction when those in your ministry start to praise you rather than God working through you? How does a quick refusal of such praise protect you from a tendency to "believe the press"?
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Temptations abound for those who've committed their lives to ministry. Recognizing common warnings signs and pitfalls can go a long way in protecting yourself, your family, the credibility of other leaders, and most importantly, the reputation of Christ. A large scale moral failure is not a single step, but a series of minor moral lapses that start in the head and move to the heart. Guard yourself and trust that the Lord is better than fleeting pleasure.

For more valuable insight on this topic, see Peter's book The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good.