What Does Tiger Woods’ Apology Say To Pastors?

February 19, 2010

tiger

You’ve probably heard enough about Tiger Woods’ sordid lifestyle. I have too. And I have no interest in exploiting any of it.

However, I have a lot of interest, for myself and any other Pastor, in learning from it. I have no interest in analyzing Tiger’s actions or apology to the nth degree.

Regardless of what any of us think about Tiger’s words or motives, there remain a number of analogous issues between the persona of a famous person and the persona of a Pastor. As Pastors, we are tempted to live two lives, one in public and another in private.

It’s interesting that Tiger mentioned in his statement that he felt “entitled” to “enjoy the temptations around” him because he had worked so hard all his life.

Often, Pastors struggle with that same temptation. We work so hard and for so long that we can be tempted to feel that we are entitled to stretch the boundaries of our behavior, be it in the area of sexuality, financial indiscretions, or anything else.

What did you hear Tiger say that could be helpful for Pastors as well?

Click here for video.

Click hear for transcript.

Governor Mark Sanford Could Be You or Me

June 30, 2009

It has been stated throughout the unfolding of the circumstance for South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford that he often would retreat after legislative sessions because they would wear him out. Retreating and refreshing is good, but at some point, Mark made some dangerous decisions about his integrity. Most likely, those decisions came in weariness and fatigue. They almost always do.

Pastor Gary Lamb recently said that in the couple of weeks after his resignation as a result of his affair, he had received over 30 anonymous emails from Pastors who admitted in those emails they were currently in the middle of an adulterous affair.

As stated in this post, there are a number of politicians who have admitted their moral failings recently. Is it just me, or does it seem like this is happening left and right?

We could list (and it would be LONG) Pastors who have shipwrecked their families and ministries because of sexual indiscretions as well. In the last post on this issue, I stated that we too often make our public figures more than human.

I don’t mean for this post to communicate that we should do that, but I also can’t help but wonder if God is not cleaning house among us. I’m talking about Pastors, not Politicians. It’s very interesting to me that this is happening with Politicians as well, but my primary focus here is Pastors.

The focus of this particular post comes back to self-care. It sounds like Mark Sanford had somewhat of a good sense and rhythm of self-care, though not knowing him it’s hard to really say. But it’s notable that he knew himself enough that when he was tired, he would get away to refresh.

Obviously, his trip to Argentina wasn’t about refreshing himself. But Argentina didn’t happen overnight, and affairs never do. They start slowly and grow in a process of decisions that lack integrity and honesty with important people.

How are you doing in this area? Are you taking care of you? Have you gotten away lately to be restored in energy, passion and vision? Are you taking your Sabbath and spending honest time with your family and friends?

A Pastor or A Politician? The Unfolding of Governor Mark Sanford?

June 25, 2009

What’s the difference between a Pastor and a Politician? Both are highly public figures. Both represent something larger than themselves. There are similarities that are eerie and sometimes dangerous, and we could go on and on about them. But there are some important distinctions to make too.

When a Pastor fails morally, he or she most often loses everything, their job, their church, often their support system, kids often lose their friends from church or their school if a move is necessary; sometimes they even lose their marriage and family.

When a Politician fails morally, he or she may take a hit in their approval ratings, but rarely do they lose everything around them. Sometimes they do, but not often.

With this week’s news about the bizarre story of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford being on a secret trip to Argentina having been about an adulterous affair he was having with a woman who lives there, he joins the ranks of a few politicians who have failed morally.

  • Just last week, Nevada Senator John Ensign admitted to an affair with a campaign staffer.
  • This generation’s most visible political figure to fail morally is President Bill Clinton, who denied having an affair with a White House staffer for seven months before he finally admitted it, all while he was President
  • Presidential hopeful John Edwards admitted to an affair a few months ago and it’s still making news.
  • New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was tough on prostitution in his state, and then lost his job when it was discovered he had been hiring them personally.

There are more examples, but that’s enough for now. Please note that this is NOT a post about whether or not Pastors or even Politicians should resign or lose their jobs as a result of adultery. I am not saying here that they should or shouldn’t.

We don’t yet know what will happen with the situation for Mark Sanford. His wife’s statement clearly says she is ready for reconciliation should Mark want it. That’s a good thing, and I hope it happens for the sake of their entire family.

But back to the question … what’s the difference between a Pastor and a Politician? We can mark several differences:

  • Pastors “work” for God; Politicians “work” for the constituents who voted for them.
  • Pastors represent something sacred; most seem to believe Politicians represent something pretty secular.
  • For the sake of “political correctness”, Pastors stand for the Church, while Politicians stand for the State, two institutions in America that have a weird relationship.

Let me boil this down. The point of this post has been primarily about the differences between Pastors and Politicians. But the real answer to the question, “What’s the difference between a Pastor and a Politician?” is, bottom line, NOTHING.

Part of our problem is that we make them out to be MORE THAN HUMAN. Certainly, there is a greater standard for spiritual leaders biblically, but we still make them out to be something more than flawed humans.

The more we can see that we are ALL flawed, imperfect human beings, the greater our ability to actually HELP each other when we fall, and help each other to stand again.

Your thoughts?

Healthy Follow-Up to Gary Lamb Post

June 18, 2009

After last week’s post about the resignation of Pastor Gary Lamb due to an affair with his assistant, a good friend of mine, who is also a Pastor, suggested I look at a video teaching by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro, called “The Heart of a Champion”.

Friends, this video is worth your time and note-taking. It is filled with rich wisdom on checking our own hearts in days like these. Situations like Gary’s are an unfortunate “dime a dozen”. It was Gary last week, who will it be next week? Not trying to be morbid or hopeless, just truthful.

Truth be known, we are ALL susceptible to failure, because we are human. Nothing more, nothing less. You might be living in the proverbial phone booth, thinking that your Superman cape and superpowers keep you from walking a road like Gary’s, but the bottom line is, you are only fooling yourself.

It takes intentionality and truth-telling that is hard and uneasy and awkward. Take the time to go through this video. Bring it to your Staff, Church Council, or whatever group of leaders you see fit. Whatever you do, do something intentional today to affair-proof your own marriage.

Ted Haggard, etc. ….

January 25, 2009

Having been through some pretty rough pastoral transitions over the years, I am saddened by this week’s news of further allegations of sexual misconduct in the situation surrounding Ted Haggard and New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

I commend Pastor Brady Boyd for his forthright and pastoral handling of the situation. His is NO easy task. He deserves our support and prayers as he and the New Life leaders navigate what is sure to be a difficult week.

Along with the news of further misconduct, HBO is airing a documentary on Ted’s fall and the consequences. It airs Thursday night.

May God grace Pastor Boyd and New Life Church with His overwhelming presence this week as they continue to endure a glaring spotlight!

Strange Things We Do When God Moves

December 16, 2008

I was initially going to title this post “Lakeland Revival Learnings”, based on the recent revival/renewal/spiritual stirring that took place earlier this year in Lakeland, Florida. The meetings took place under the leadership of evangelist Todd Bentley. They ended when Bentley (who was the primary speaker at the revival meetings) left back in August and the meetings have since fizzled.

Just this week comes further revelation about why the revival meetings ended and what was happening behind the scenes. You can read the story here.

Sadly, stories like this are not limited to Lakeland’s Outpouring. All too often, sticky issues such as pride, arrogance, and self-aggrandization come into play for those leading such a move of God.

I write about this not for sensational purposes, but for educational reasons. As Pastors and Church Leaders, we have got to figure out how to set ourselves up for long term effectiveness even when the Spirit of God is moving in His power and force.

For some reason, when the supernatural occurs, we think it makes US supernatural too. In truth, the supernatural is ALWAYS about Jesus, not us. We do not all of a sudden have a life that is without its limits.

Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, had a famous phrase that as he traveled the world while his family was at home, he believed God would answer his prayer. That prayer was, “God, I’ll take care of your little ones around the world if You’ll take care of my little ones at home.”  Somewhere, Bob got his roles mixed up. He wasn’t God, and his kids needed him at home.

You can say all you want about the massive and great work that World Vision does today and I wouldn’t slight you one bit. But Bob’s kids missed their father, and one of his daughters ended up committing suicide.

If God used you for such a move of the supernatural, what would you do to make sure that self-care was a high standard for your life?

When Courage Falls Short of the Demands of Reality

November 20, 2008

I love “The Purpose-Driven Life”. I dig the “Wagner-Houts Modified Spiritual Gifts Inventory”. There’s not a much more clear tool than the DISC Profile. And when it comes to bare-bones personality information, nothing beats the MMPI for depth of definition.

As good as all of that is, there is no better tool than the Bible to define who we are. I think most reading this blog would agree. When our faith in who we are in God’s eyes meets the reality of daily life, if we’re honest, we know we often fall way short.

Let me drive this painfully home. I want to be the best husband I can be in all practical ways possible. I want to be Colleen’s knight in shining armor who sweeps her off her feet to save the day. She struggles with a 12 year diagnosis of Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. You’d never know it if you met her becasue she does her best (and then some) to not let it stop her.

Last weekend, her shoulder froze for no apparent reason. That’s just life for her. Jump to tonight, when she gets home from her job teaching Certified Nurse’s Assistants at our local Adult School. She has planned a Jafra party for our house tomorrow night. The tile floor (lots of it) needs to be mopped.

Can you see it? The knight in shining armor? Mr. Clean with broom and mop in hand to save the day? Not in the least! In my dreams! Instead, here was my selfishness rearing its ugly head. (Hear the whine….) “I hate mopping this floor!”

What does that have to do with figuring out who you are? Well, beyond all the education and self-discovery comes the hard work of discipleship. And it’s deeper than just applying a few Scripture, although that’s helpful. It is coming to terms with who I really am and having the integrity to have courage that meets the demands of my reality. (That’s classic Henry Cloud & John Towsend, in case you’re wondering.)

The path of discipleship, becoming like Christ, Whose image we were created in from the beginning, is hard work, friends. Inherent in it is getting to know you. The REAL you. That includes your motivations (WHY you do what you do), your intentions (WHERE you desire to go with what you do), and your actions (HOW you do what you do to get where you’re going). And those are deep issues.

For me, tonight, it was “will I steer clear of the thing I don’t want, or even HATE, to do for the sake of my own comfort, or will I serve my wife, my kids, and our family by putting me aside?

When’s the last time you had to face this dilemma? At home OR at work/ministry?

It’s The Little Things

October 30, 2008

For the last couple of years, I’ve been dreading a purchase that I knew was coming at our church. Every Sunday that I walked into the Sanctuary, I would look at the big projection screen, convinced that the resolution was slowly but surely on the fritz. We would soon need to replace the projector for a sharper image.

After an eye checkup with an opthamologist a few months ago, I just didn’t want to break down and spend the money on suggested prescription glasses. The doctor even said himself that my prescription was even less than reading glasses you would buy off a shelf in a pharmacy. But the recurrent headaches weren’t decreasing. So glasses it was.

The first Sunday I walked into the Sanctuary wearing my new glasses, I was amazed; almost convinced that someone had installed a brand new projector for us! The screen was so clear that it stunned me for a few moments. I had no idea what a big difference something so small could make.

Solomon wrote about how small things can make a big difference, even devastating the fruit of your life if you’re not careful. ” Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” (Song of Solomon 2.15)

My recurrent headaches? The more I wear the glasses (hard as they’ve been to get used to), the fewer and less intense the recurrent headaches. Amazing. “Smaller prescription than off the shelf reading glasses.” Who would’ve thought?

What are “the little foxes” that have stolen your fruit, threatening to ruin your vineyards lately?

“Healer” Author Confesses His Real Need For Healing

August 29, 2008

In no way do I mean for this post to be a judgment or condemnation, nor a condoning, of the sorrowful circumstances that surround the story of Michael Guglielmucci.

He is the author of a song very recently released on the latest Hillsong Worship DVD album, “Hillsong Live: This Is Our God”. There is apparently a documentary on the DVD of how Michael wrote this song right after a diagnosis of aggressive cancer. A popular video on YouTube has now been removed that showed him telling the story at a worship concert just before he would lead the song with an oxygen tank by his side and the tube on his face.

Turns out that he confessed just a couple weeks ago that he was never diagnosed with cancer. He was able to deceive his wife and family as he was apparently suffering physical manifestations of his inner battle with pornography. His father is a Pastor in Australia. You can read his initial statement here.

I do not pretend to know Michael’s torment or make claims of superiority. While my heart is very sad for him and his family, and for the Church at large, I do not pretend to know his torment or make any claims of superiority. But for the grace of God, his story is ours … ALL of ours.

This is another in a long line of stories of lives torn apart by the temptation to live one life in private and another in public. This is not the first and it will not be the last.

There are a couple of keys here about what it takes to be a Pastor For Life.

One is the deep need for safe places to be able to be truly who you are, including the inner battles and struggles we all face. The sooner we get out into the light, the less the damage and the stronger the ability to resist temptation.

Another is the need for us to live in brokenness and vulnerability. The foundation of this relies on us. We must allow for the transparency and consistency in how we live.

Many we lead cannot handle an ounce of weakness we may show as leaders. That’s part of what keeps us from vulnerability. But somewhere, somehow, those who cannot handle our weakness will have to find their strength in Jesus. They may find it in our transparency, but our fear is that they may not. We must become OK with that.

I commit myself, and encourage you, to pray for Michael. While his confession shocks many, it’s actually the first painful step of real freedom for him, and for his family. While the road to recovery will be long and grinding, he is in the best place he can be, or maybe even has ever been.

Help When You Hurt

Who ministers to the Minister when you're hurting? Many do, and they can be found on this listing. Please find a friend in your area and seek the help you need today.
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A Place For You

Many Pastors are not aware that all over the country are a number of places you can retreat to for a number of given reasons or purposes. Find some of them here, get there, and find your pace!
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