Which area of sin does the enemy target the most in pastors?

We have established in previous posts the primary target that pastors are to the enemy.  However, out of all the areas of sin pastors can be tempted in by the enemy, which one does the enemy focus on the most?  Which one does the most damage?  Out of all the destructive results that come from a pastor’s sin, which one maximizes the enemy’s purposes?

It is the sin of sexual immorality.

Think about it.  What other powerful tool of sin does the enemy possess that proves time and time again to be so destructive?  What other single sin can destroy a man’s marriage, ministry, and church as well as bring reproach upon the gospel of Jesus Christ like one single swoop of an inappropriate relationship that a pastor has with another woman.

I had a harsh reminder of this recently as I received word of another promising, extremely gifted, young man who had to leave the ministry over an inappropriate relationship with another woman not his wife.  How clever is our adversary?  How cunning are his ways?  He knows this accomplishes his purposes more than anything else.  And guess what…

Pastors…he is coming for us.  He is focused on us.  Treat this matter as if the enemy has dedicated his very existence not just to cause you to fall, but to do so in a way that destroys all you hold dear. Yet, greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.  We have victory over our enemy through the person and work of Jesus.  However, this does not mean we can let up on our resolve to fight this enemy of our soul. 

Therefore, dear brothers and fellow pastors, the enemy is coming for us.  He cannot take our soul, but if he catches us in a vulnerable position and we are too proud to have men around us to help protect our marriages and ministries, he can take so much from us.  Guard carefully.  Fight tenaciously.  Always declare every day of faithfulness you walk in as a gift of grace from our Lord Christ. 

Lord Jesus, keep us all steadfast in faithfulness!

Posted in Battling Sin, The Pastor's Soul, Training for Ministry
9 comments on “Which area of sin does the enemy target the most in pastors?
  1. matt says:

    This is so true. I have learned a lot in the 10 years of ministry God has given me. Sometimes it is the school of hard knocks. This point is a very specific area Satan goes after. I have learned to be on guard. We all make mistakes, mess-up, sin in ministry, but I pray all those who read this post do not make this one. It will be the down fall of any minister. I pray for protection and wisdom for all who read this blog. I thank you for reminding us/ me to be on guard!

  2. I don’t disagree with the fact that many, many pastors have shipwrecked their ministries and marriages on the rocks of sexual immorality, but I think a much more common and daily struggle for almost all pastors is the struggle of ego and affirmation. I think many pastors struggle alot with sexual issues, but I think all pastors probably struggle all the time with pleasing people and seeking affirmation/ego-stroking from people.

    • briancroft says:

      Jason,

      A point well taken. I agree that ego and people pleasing is one of the major daily struggles of every pastor. The enemy seems to target that which will do the most damage with one mess up and that was simply the heart of the post. A pastor can have many sinful battles with ego and people pleasing and most of them do not wreck his ministry to the level of the other. Although, I will admit these sins of ego can eventually bring down a ministry if not managed for sure. Thanks for writing.

  3. steve says:

    I could not agree more. A spectacular failure of the flesh in a pastor creates a lot of collateral damage.

    Re: Jason’s comment, the ego/affirmation strategy is one of the primary ways the enemy lures anyone into sexual sin. Our whole culture screams that our value as a person is exactly correlated with our sexual desirability. Thus if I find someone highly desirable, and that person desires me, I am affirmed (this is stage 1 of the fall). The final test of our desirability becomes the willingness of a person to have a sexual relationship with us (this is stage 2 of the fall).

  4. Michael says:

    Everywhere you look, whether its on tv, at the grocery store, on billboards, etc., you can see sexuality being presented in a sinful way. Satan has infiltrated many hearts and minds to bring his sexual perversion and disobedience to God to reality in this world. I am not an exception.

    The author of this article makes an excellent point, which is that we must help eachother to overcome the wiles of Satan. This includes professing our sins to one another, praying for one another, and confronting one another if we choose to fall in spite of our knowledge of the truth in Christ.

  5. Colin says:

    Brian, I agree with your take when it comes to American pastors, and I am inclined to think this is true cross-culturally as well. There was one question this post made me ask myself; if we look through church history would your posting be the accepted norm or would the church fathers throw out a different issue? Just wondering…

  6. LD says:

    I personally wonder if there’s a connection with the view that most evangelicals have towards children these days, which is not much different than that of the secular world: two kids then get surgically altered. And once a man is altered, does sexual immorality then becomes more of a pronounced issue when a man is no longer certain of his own fertility and sexual viability in a marriage?

  7. David says:

    This is why pastors need to be involved in regular meetings with other pastors. I meet weekly with several other pastors to discuss the lectionary texts for the coming Sunday and to talk about other issues of life.

    • David says:

      (Oops I wasn’t finished before accidentally clicking the post button.) However, I don’t think that the Adversary singles out pastors for sexual sin. The nature of our work simply makes us more susceptible to temptation if we don’t take smart precautions. Much of our work simply requires that we spend a lot of time in study and reflection, thus we have to be alone a lot. So, we must establish good habits for ourselves and let our congregations know what those limits are. We must also make sure that we’re spending time with our wives and families and pursuing other interests and hobbies outside the work of ministry.

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