Unlike many Christians, we are not the type of people who believe that, when a pastor is caught up in a major scandal, all of his previous good work goes out the window, and that he is only to be defined as “that preacher who did such and such.” We know from Scripture that God often uses people who have sinned egregiously to do some of His most important work. However, we do believe that there is value in a pastor sitting down for an extended period of time in order to get some things right with the Lord, his family, and in his own heart. (That is why we applauded Fred Price Jr. on his decision to step down for a while after a personal failing.)
Here is why there is value in a pastor sitting down.
1. When a pastor sits down, he can give his entire being over to God and let God work in his life. If a preacher who has had a major failure continues to minister, he will be consumed not only by the work and the guilt of his failure, but also by constant thoughts about his own value and worth. He will constantly be wondering what others think about him. He will be asking himself, “Do they know what I did?” His continuing work in the ministry is simply a way for him to try to prove that he has value to the Lord. Pastor, instead of trying to work for the Lord, why not sit down a while and let the Lord work on you?
2. When a pastor sits down, he shows respect for God, Jesus Christ, the church, and the unsaved. It is a shame that many preachers feel as though the standards that apply to government officials, news anchors, coaches of college football teams, sports figures, and the general public do not apply to them. We have seen time and time again politicians and media personalities publicly apologize, resign, or take a leave of absence over a personal failure. It is an insult to God and God’s people when a pastor, whose Biblical standard is that he be above reproach, feels as though he can carry on like nothing has happened. The secular media love a scandal, and the value of a media personality is often measured by the amount of scandal or controversy they can bring to a position or role on TV. But that is not how it works in the church. A preacher who refuses to sit down and discipline himself after a failure loses the moral and spiritual authority to speak on a great range of issues and harms the witness of the church in the world.
3. When a pastor sits down, he gives God room to set him up for an even greater comeback in the future. Everyone loves a good comeback story. And, God is the God of great comebacks. Moses fled Egypt a criminal, but returned a deliverer. Peter denied Christ at a critical moment, but was raised up to lead the early church. Preacher, after a personal failure, you may feel as though God can’t use you anymore — and that may make you want to cling to your ministry even more. But, rest assured, God is not through with you yet. If you let go and let God take over, He will bring you back to the public stage in His time and His way. And, when you do return, you will be respected, you will have something to say because of what you have been through, and you will be able to truly help others.
So, preacher, if you have failed, please sit down a while. Pray. Don’t try to defend yourself publicly. Get your heart right with God. Spend time with your family. Write a book. And wait on God’s next step for you.