The Pastor and Sin

Pastors sin. This may shock some and be unbelievably obvious to others. I don’t know. People are weird when it comes to pastors.

Perhaps I should more accurately say, “This pastor sins.” Perhaps there are some pastors out there who don’t. I don’t know every single pastor in the world. Perhaps there are some. In fact, maybe I’m in the minority.

The way many pastors act and talk, they certainly want you to believe they don’t sin. They preach in such a way that everyone knows the preacher is high above them in spiritual stature. They give the impression that sin is something you little people deal with.

There are also people who hold pastors on a pedestal and can’t imagine a pastor ever doing anything wrong, and, if a pastor does sin, they should resign immediately. God forbid they catch you sinning. There are many church attenders who feel it is their duty to keep the pastor judged and potentially fired.

Although I risk starting a fight, I really don’t get the pastors who use the title “Reverend.” I could never use such a title. Reverend literally means “one deserving of reverence.” Reverence means “worthy of awe and respect.”

Now, I do think a pastor should behave in a way that produces respect, and I don’t mind if people respect a pastor, but to have the nerve to call yourself worthy of respect? That takes balls right there.

I said “balls.” There are some who would take that as a sin. I have just shot to pieces my statement earlier that pastors should act in a way that produces respect.

I sin. Sometimes I sin on Sunday mornings. Sometimes I sin while I‘m preaching. I sin quite a bit when people are talking to me before and after church when what they say, how they say it, and the mouth its coming out of creates various thoughts in my head that are not exactly as pure as the wind driven snow.

There are a handful of sins that get me. When I sin, it’s typically one of five sins. My sin life is very focused, laser like. Sin is addicting. I’ve spent years honing the craft of my sins, they aren’t going away without concerted effort and struggle. I’m on my way, but wow do they hang on.

There are times when I sin and think, “Why are you even a pastor? What right do you have to be up front in a church?” There are sermons I preach where my head thinks the entire time, “I have no idea why I’m telling them this; I don’t even do this. I should just sit down.”

There are some who read this and say, “Yeah, you should.” I know. Sin is no laughing matter. Sin is a big deal. Sin put Christ on the cross. I am aware of all the biblical reasons to not sin and why it should be fought regularly. And I do. And sometimes I lose.

Should I be fired every time I lose the battle? “Depends on what the sin is” would be the reply from most. I would probably agree. Pastors take tumbles all the time into gross sin. But who’s the judge on what gross sin is? Isn’t all of it? Should sinners be allowed to be pastors?

I fail to see how else we’d have pastors.

When I sin, I feel an extra weight. It’s not just guilt or regret, there’s a weight of responsibility. Because I sinned, I wonder how this affects my ministry, what people are being hurt because of this, should I do this job? There’s extra weight, an extra layer of responsibility and shame. Typically a pastor can’t talk to anyone about it because lectures will come. People will be shocked that their pastor sins. “Shouldn’t you resign?”

The best solution is to not sin. I’ve tried it. It works for a bit! But inevitably I fall off the wagon into my handful of pet sins. You can also go the other way and talk about grace and being accepted in the beloved and therefore, give yourself a complete pass and don’t worry about it. I’ve tried that too. It works for a bit!

Do battle with sin, pastors. There is a weight of responsibility. Feel it. Use it to help you battle sin. Pastors are to be examples to the flock. An example of how a sinner deals with sin even.

If you make peace with sin, you will teach false doctrine. Sin will always distort your understanding of God’s Word, which distorts your preaching, which will distort anyone who listens to you.

Be honest before God about who you are and what you do. Don’t make peace with sin. Don’t be afraid to be honest and let people know you battle sin too. That we’re all in this together. That you’re tempted just like them. You’re no different. We’re all human with a sinful nature. Do battle with it and show em how it’s done.

Watch out for the Accuser, the Devil, who will tell you to quit. At the same time, there may come a point when you’ve delved into sin so deeply and have made peace with it, perhaps you should. It’s really hard to say from the outside. Deal with your sin before the Lord.

The health of the church depends upon the health of its pastors. Do battle with sin. Make war on it. Go, fight, win!


Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.  Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
–1 TImothy 4:15-16

2 thoughts on “The Pastor and Sin

  1. I’ve seen it suggested that the “reverend” title once meant reverent; that is, the priest (I think this was in the context of the early Anglican Church) was one who revered God, not that the priest was to be revered. I would hope that was generally the case. I don’t believe anyone thinks of the term that way now though.

    Liked by 1 person

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