This is such a tough question and if you find yourself asking this question I imagine you’ve been struggling with pornography for awhile. The question that is really being asked is how much sin is to much sin. I believe we all would answer that with a resounding “any sin is to much sin” Hebrews 10:14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. While that may be true we also live in a fallen world and operate in a time where we fall short continually. How do we reconcile this with a Scripture of 1 Corinthians 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ..
I have heard many people speak on this and say if your struggling you should be done in ministry. I don’t think its that black and white. I would say if you are acting out in ways that are directly affecting your work and family and you are not seeking help with a repentant heart that yes you should probably step aside for a season. I would also say that being removed or removing yourself from ministry without a restoration plan doesn’t make any sense. If you are to the point of stepping aside I would recommend finding people that want to help you bring about restoration in your ministry and your life.
So if you are not in the small number of people that need to be removed or step down from ministry where does that leave you. Many pastors feel isolated and trapped in their addictions. They feel like they can’t tell anybody of their problems because it will cost them their jobs. That is exactly where Satan wants you and he wants to keep you there.
I found myself in this situation in the early years in ministry and it almost cost me my job and marriage. I was crashing and burning because I was so isolated and thought I couldn’t tell anybody my struggles because it would cost me my job and my calling. I learned this one valuable lesson. The truth will set you free. Allowing this to be your compass,I believe, is the best way to stay in ministry and work out your addictions/struggle. Here are 3 things I find helpful in this process.
First find someone who you can talk to. You will need someone to be honest with. A professional councilor may work for this or maybe another pastor. I have utilized pastors from other denominations to help me have someone to talk to. Odds are even if your in a small town there are other pastors from other denominations close. It can be helpful because the fear of reprisal is removed. Never forget that pastors need pastors. Pastors are uniquely equipped to understand each other and understand the strains of ministry on our lives and on our families. Talking to someone who “gets it” sure can make a difference.
Second Stay in accountability. There isn’t much that can change behavior like having someone ask how your managing in certain areas of your life. That coupled with the ability to be honest can have a lasting impact on your life.
Third is give yourself a break. Ministry is stressful and hard. Most of us as pastors were never fully equipped for our jobs. Sheep are hard to care for and they bite. Most pastors feel like they are failing because they have unreal expectations of their jobs or they have people that put unrealistic expectations on them. This can lead to acting out and struggling in addictions to try and make yourself feel better.
Remember that God called you, not a better version of you, to lead. God uses imperfect broken people to change the world. Most of us will preach this ,week after week, but we struggle to believe it in our own lives. Finding a way to deal with sin and root it out without allowing it to destroy us is crucial to longevity in ministry.
May Jesus show you redemption and love not only in your congregation but through your life as well.