I have been in ministry for 41 years. I have worked as an evangelist, missionary, administrator, Bible school director and teacher, and for the past 27 years, as a local church pastor. I have run across many different stripes of Christian leaders. Most of them have been godly, good, and honest people. Most of the leadership friends I have had are still living robust, effective, and successful lives.
But I have also watched with deep sadness many a good leader fall into sin and lose his or her way. I have observed a trend of five big stumbling blocks.
- Neglecting PB&J and Growing Cold Spiritually
Since many of you don’t attend our church, The Road @ Chapel Hills, you may not know the term, PB&J. I’m not talking about a neglect of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. What I mean by PB&J is Prayer, Bible, and Journal. This is by far the biggest stumbling block for Christian leaders, neglecting to spend intimate time with the Lord each day. You show me any believer that is neglecting to spend time alone with the Lord through prayer, reading God’s Word, and journaling, and I will show you a person who is headed for some serious spiritual problems.
- Neglecting Church Attendance and Bloodstained Allies
This is always a tell-tale sign of neglect that always leads people into big-time trouble. When you have no accountable relationships—what we call at our church, bloodstained allies—and you’re not regularly sharing your heart in worship, prayer, and the study of God’s Word with the Body of Christ, trouble is looming ahead.
- Unwilling to Seriously Deal with Lust
Lust is a struggle for every man. But due to the growing number of porn sites online, women are also being lured into patterns of illicit sexual behavior through porn. If left unchecked, lust is the ticket into deep darkness. As a pastor, I counsel couples and singles monthly who are ruining their lives because of an unwillingness to deal with lust issues in their lives.
- Not Putting in the Time and Effort to Nurture One’s Marriage and Family
I marry a half a dozen couples a year. It’s a joy to be a part of the pre-marriage counseling and the ceremony. Most couples start off great in their commitment to each other. But in too many cases, I observe the dissolution of a great marriage due to neglect. The couple gets excessively busy, and before long, they are not spending time together. It takes a lot of effort, work, and commitment to hold a marriage and family together. When this area is neglected, bad things begin to happen, and the result can be catastrophic.
- Excessive Focus on Worldly Success
I am a big believer in having multiple streams of income. I’m a big advocate for being debt free. But I’m not a supporter of an excessive focus on worldly success. I believe the most successful and effective leaders are people who don’t focus on worldly success. You show me a man or woman who has biblical and godly priorities, and I’ll show you someone who will find great success and effectiveness in everything they set out to do.
Next time I want to look at the antidote for each of these stumbling blocks.