As Pastors We ARE Human, And We ARE Held To A Higher Standard By God

There have been many rumblings this week over a recent mega pastor’s support for another mega pastor’s shortcomings.  The social media debate has been, “Was he wrong for showing support for a brother in Christ?”  The short answer is, “No”.   We are all called to have a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).  We are also called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, for it is the greatest identity badge to the world (John 13:35), and we are to redeem a sinning brother to the Lord (1 John 5:16-17).  Ah Ha, that is the question here, “ Does a settlement resolve the sin?”  How can one be forgiven for something that he has not repented from; from something that he may or may not have done? The truth of the matter is this: either the pastor was in the sin of homosexuality and/or pedophilia or at minimum, he was guilty of poor leadership judgment and/or abuse of power and privilege.  Because all unrighteousness is sin (Romans 3:23), none of the aforementioned options can be swept under the proverbial rug.

These hurting and disillusioned sheep were rebuked by this prominent pastor for leaving the church of the pastor in question.  They were told that they should just forgive.  But how can a pastor’s congregants forgive him if there was never a confession and a humble request to be forgiven?  These wandering, hurting, confused, disappointed and scattered sheep (Matthew 9:36) were accused of being self-righteous and judgmental.  But is it judgmental for a person to do what they believe is best for their family when it is implied that their pastor is guilty of sin but the entire matter is shrouded in a cloak of darkness and secrecy?  Is it self-righteous for them to say to themselves, “I have followed this man of God; I have supported him financially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually for years.  I was promised answers and I’ve gotten none.  I’m not going to bad mouth him. I’m not going to engage in gossip, but I no longer feel comfortable following him so I must go”?

Some of the sheep who were told they were not welcome in the House of God, fell into those categories.  Some of those congregants were so disillusioned by the lack of accountability and transparency that they had considered walking away from church altogether; they questioned their faith, but by some miracle, they mustered up enough strength to go somewhere else to worship, hoping to find refuge; looking to cast all their cares on the Lord…and instead, they were rebuked, mocked and told they were not welcome.

There is not a doubt in my mind that some of those sheep did not only walk out of the sanctuary that day, but also walked away from their faith.  This was their last hope and the door was slammed in their faces.  They were hoping to find peace but instead, they found judgment.  Whose house is it anyway?  Isn’t the church God’s House?  Isn’t it supposed to be a House of Prayer for all people (Isaiah 56:7; Matthew 21:13)?  We, preachers represent Christ.  When we tell people they are not welcome, we speak on Christ’s behalf.  What happens to a person when they think that Christ is telling them to go away?  Last I checked, pastors don’t pick people, people pick pastors!

The real problem with this entire debate is that the Bible is being pushed to the side as people opine with emotional and unbiblical rhetoric.  Here is one biblical fact that a preacher must accept before saying, “yes” to the call:  GOD WILL HOLD YOU TO A HIGHER STANDARD THAN THE PEOPLE TO WHOM YOU PREACH.  Yes, we preachers are human, but we are also called and the people aren’t.  We are sent to the sheep to preach and model Christ for them (Romans 10:13-15).  Judgment begins at the house of God first, so whatever happens in the pulpit is a reflection of what is happening in the pews (1 Peter 4:17-18). Furthermore, those who know the Lord and do not follow Him, will be beaten with many stripes  – a higher standard (Luke 12:47).  Perhaps, that is why the Apostle’s charge to a Bishop (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:6-9) is distinct from the charge to the congregation. If the preachers could get away with what the people get away with, why would there be a CONSECRATION service or spiritual separation to acknowledge his/her calling. There is no way I can rectify in my mind, that a shepherd and the sheep should be held to the same standard; if that is the case, why then does a sheep need a shepherd in the first place? It is a trick of the devil to overlook sin because of personal relationships.  It is straight heresy to twist and manipulate scripture to rebuke sheep for doing a godly thing in flocking to a shepherd who they thought was a more trustworthy covering. 

What should happen hear is public repentance not public pride.  For, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6) Yes, as a human being who is called to be a preacher, I admit that I have sin in my life and I am dealing with it.  I am not a perfect man.  As an imperfect being, I sin, but because of the Holy Spirit in me, I am not a slave to sin (Romans 6:1-6, 12-14, 17-23).  For, people are slaves to anything that controls them (2 Peter 2:19).  If ever my sin should rule me and cause me to fall…I will not fight to maintain my powerful pulpit seat; like David, I pray that I leave the throne room, repent and redeem myself with the Lord.  If the Lord would have me to go forward after that, then so be it.  Peter denied (Luke 22:54-62) and was used (John 21:15-18).  However, there is a long list of kings with great falls that He did not use again (like Samuel- 1 Samuel 10:20-24; 1 Samuel 15:26 and Uzziah- 2 Chronicles 26:14-21). There is an equally long list of New Testament teachers who became false that he did not use further (2 Peter 2: 15-16, 19-22).  After the Prophets, Ananias and Sapphira, fell, the Lord removed them from standing before the people (Acts 5:1-11).  This issue is not a grace vs. law issue; it is a sin vs. righteousness issue. It is an issue of doing not what is in the best interest of the ministry but what is in the best interest of the Kingdom.  

So, here’s the question, why don’t preachers sit themselves down and deal with their sin?  Perhaps your time has passed and God wants to do a new thing…pay attention (Isaiah 43:18-19).  We preachers cannot find it convenient to claim a lower standard when biblically we are held to a higher standard.  We cannot have more posters of ourselves in our sanctuaries than crosses and then get angry when sheep put us on pedestals. We cannot always tout our spiritual authority in the church, teach the sheep that blessing us financially will automatically release a financial blessing from God, label ourselves as “anointed”, “exalted”  and any other lofty adjective that comes to mind and warn people about the dangers of coming against us (“touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm!!”), and then claim we are just like them when moral failures are exposed.  We cannot initiate the race and then yell, “time-out!” when our shoes become untied and we trail behind.  We are men of God- not celebrities- and we are called to be role models!  God has chosen to use cracked (but mended) vessels to hold His life-giving water.  Yes, there is a tension.  For, we are on this journey right along with the people to whom we preach, yet He has placed us before them and above them to give them a tangible example of His transformative, almighty power (1 Corinthians 11:1).  The Apostle Paul’s declaration in scripture haunts me the most – “imitate me.”  This word should be held in the heart of every preacher, reminding them of the humility and holiness it takes to walk the preacher walk.  This is not about insurance, it is about risk management and loss control (I KNOW ALL ABOUT INSURANCE SINCE I HAVE BEEN IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY FOR NEARLY TWENTY YEARS).  Even the insurance company will deny certain claims if the policyholder violates the contract and misrepresents their risk on the application.  Insurance or not, Hell is real for those who act like slaves (Galatians 5:21) – anyone who is controlled by flesh will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

God expects more from us preachers/pastors/shepherds.  I already know by posting this, the devil and everyone else will be looking to make me eat my words, but it’s time out for being part of this passive, condoning church.  Jesus is coming soon and we preachers, better get right or we won’t be going home. Insurance claim denied.

Remember, God can make a straight line with a crooked stick.  So, I say to all of you hurting sheep, no matter where you are or what church you are in, please, please, do not forsake assembling yourself in a local church (Hebrews 10:25) because of false teachings and the moral failures of men.  Find a shepherd you can trust and stay in communion with the saints and never, ever leave the Lord (2 Corinthians 13:14).

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Categories: Musings

Author:De'Andre Salter

De'Andre Salter is a nationally recognized entrepreneur and senior pastor of The Tabernacle, a fast-growing, non-denominational ministry in South Plainfield, New Jersey. Salter is a self-made success and CEO of Professional Risk Solutions, LLC, the largest minority-owned specialty brokerage firm in the United States. A Jersey native and Drew University graduate, Salter was honored as one of the “Top 40 Black Executives Under Forty” by The Network Journal. In addition to winning souls, he has a vision to build communities through supporting entrepreneurs. His book,Hope in the Hood, is a springboard to helping others who hail from neighborhoods like his in Newark, build and grow businesses in their community. He is offering not just a step-by-step action plan, but also financial resources.

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