Pastors: Guarding your heart from unconfessed sin
One of the greatest dangers in the life of the Pastor is unconfessed sin. It will rob you of your intimacy with God and steal your spiritual power. Over the next three days I want to share with you three steps that every Pastor needs to take in order to guard our hearts against unconfessed sin.
STEP 1: Focus on Your Relationship with God
It may seem strange to those who are not in the ministry but nearly every Pastor I know will tell you that they struggle with their own relationship with God. It is an inherent occupational hazard that the more time we spend dealing with other people’s spiritual lives the less time we will focus on our own. This often leads us to having blind spots in our lives when it comes to our own sin. The cure, of course, is to spend more time focused on our own relationship with God.
During my ordination service one of the Pastors who laid hands and prayed over me was named John Hayes. Over the course of his ministry Pastor John had planted over a dozen Southern Baptist Churches including Open Door Baptist Church in Colliers, WV where I was being called to Pastor. I will never forget when John knelt down and whispered in my ear, “No matter what else happens, never let Satan steal your time alone with God. This is the most important time of your day.” Over the past two decades of ministry I haven’t always succeeded in maintaining this important aspect of my relationship with God, but I have clearly learned its importance. When we spend time alone with God it allows two important things to happen in our lives.
First, the more we focus on our relationship with God the more aware we become of our own sinfulness. I am not suggesting here that we fall into the trap of having a morbid obsession over our sin, but the simple truth is that as we draw near to God the light of His presence will reveal sin in our lives. In fact, I am convinced that one of the reasons that I often neglect my spiritual life is that I do not want to be made aware of my sin. Before you judge me too harshly, I would urge you to take a look at your own heart and see if this is not a struggle in your life as well. The good news is that never reveals our sin without at the same time offering us His mercy and grace through the gospel.
That brings me to the second things that happens when we focus on our relationship with God — we are drawn into a deeper appreciation and understanding of the gospel. The simple truth of the matter is that before God called us to be preachers of the gospel, He called us to be partakes in the gospel. In reality no Christian ever grows beyond their daily need to preach the gospel to themselves — and that includes you and me. As pastors and ministry leaders we stand in daily need of preaching the gospel to ourselves and applying its blessed truth to our lives. This constant focus on the death, burial and resurrection of Christ will not only expose every sinful act and idol in our hearts but it will also drive us deep into the arms of Christ where we find grace and forgiveness.
Joe Buchanan is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Metropolis, IL. www.joebuchanan.com