So with only a little over a decade of ministry experience, I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on pastoral ministry. I have, however, noted over the years several temptations either by taking stock of my own thoughts or observing the pitfalls of others in ministry.
1. A pastor must resist the temptation to make his ministry his idol.
There is no question that ministry is important, the spiritual needs of people are great, and my responsibility before the Lord is real. But I must be careful not to make the ministry the Lord has given me an idol in my life. How can I avoid this, you ask? Avoiding the following temptations will help.
2. A pastor must resist the temptation to make his position his identity.
I’ve seen this. A pastor finds his identity in his position, rather than maintaining his identity in Christ. The pastorate is my calling, my responsibility, even my position, but it can not be my identity. My value is based on who I am IN CHRIST, not based upon the fact that I’m a pastor. The size of my ministry does not equal my value.
3. A pastor must resist the temptation to worry about people in his care.
I’ve always been a little envious of those who have “happy-go-lucky” personalities who don’t usually struggle with worry. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. Add the legitimate care of the ministry to the equation and it is sometimes hard to balance concern and worry. The answer is prayer. When I’m tempted to worry about church members, I must pray instead, and take action as God directs. I recall from my childhood singing a little chorus: “Why Worry When You Can Pray. This is sound advice.
4. A pastor must resist the temptation to focus on God’s working through him to the exclusion of God working in him.
Counseling, preaching, teaching, advising, and leading are all energy expenders. It is easy to desire for God to work through me, which is godly desire, unless it is to the exclusion of desiring God to work in me. Time alone with God and thinking, reading, and praying for personal, devotional enrichment is a helpful antidote to this pitfall. Jesus had to get alone with his Father and away from the crowds, how much more do we as pastors need this.
Coming soon… 4 more Dangerous Temptations a Pastor Must Resist. Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this–whether you are a pastor or not!