The sad, recent news of two well-known Adventist figures had me thinking, reflecting and grieving.
First, a leader of a youth ministry has a well-publicized moral fall. A strong voice in the conservative wing of the church, his decisions send ripples far and wide. The news of the fall, reveal his struggle with secret monsters.
Then, we get news of the self-inflicted death of a former pastor/evangelist. I have never met him, but good friends of mine have, and had him in their churches when he did evangelism, at which he was very good. He left official Adventist ministry for a new approach. He also was dealing with secret monsters, in his case a mental health issue that compounded the situation.
Having only met them through media and common friends, I reflected on my own ministry and decided to write this short blog for my pastor/leader friends.
1. We grieve for all affected by these tragedies. Regardless of your particular views on church governance, approach to ministry, stance on women’s ordination and music, we never rejoice with the fall of a leader. We grieve and we take time to take stock of our own lives, for we dare not spend one minute pointing fingers that could be spent on own knees.
2. As leaders, anything we don’t face, trace and erase, with God’s grace, can come back to haunt us. All of us carry baggage, have weaknesses, face hurts, trials and may even have health issues that we would rather not think about. Suppressing and not addressing those Secret Monsters, can be downright deadly.
3. It seemed to me, (this can be my own perception, and I could be wrong) that the emphasis of our ministry and life can reflect our unaddressed weakness. I remember several marriage counselors/speakers that had mayor issues in that area, one particular couple that was fighting back stage before the husband spoke about marriage to the congregation.
I have to analyze my ministry and my life and ask myself:
What are the mayor themes of my preaching?
What topics seem to prop up over and over in my interactions with people?
I’m I projecting a personal deficiency upon others by overemphasizing an area?
Tragedies like these are avoidable. But it’s up to me to make the changes, seek the help, admit my imperfections, live based on reality and not an image. I have to address the Secret Monsters, before they destroy me. I have to make a decision, to choose being healthy rather than admired.