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Paul Levy:

Recently I’ve spent some time with two friends who were in ministry but have fallen morally and so now find themselves out of a job that they loved, separated from their families and, in all honesty, struggling. I’ve showed what I’ve written to them and I wouldn’t say they were overjoyed at what I had to say but both agreed I could put this on here.

There’s a number of things that need to be said but, first of all, we need to recognise how fragile we are. These men were more gifted and more able than I ever will be. They are bright guys who were, in lots of our eyes, ‘successful’ in ministry. I’ve prayed with these men and shared in ministry with them.  After meeting with them I came away upset and sad and slightly afraid; the reason being it could have been me. No one who has met with people who’ve just seen their lives implode and the speed at which sin can destroy a man can ever be proud. You can be angry with them and what they’ve done but you’ll be more aware of the fact that it could so easily have been me. ‘Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall’. 1 Corinthians 10:12
I’d encourage you to read the whole thing, as he offers several helpful thoughts in the following categories:
  • online life is a killer
  • success in ministry is a dangerous thing
  • accountability doesn’t work
  • marriage
  • the temptation to rehabilitate yourself
  • forgiveness is possible

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5 thoughts on “Success in Ministry Is Dangerous, Accountability Doesn’t Work, and Other Thoughts on Falling from Grace”

  1. This is a great article full of wisdom, thanks Paul. I particularly liked:

    “accountability doesn’t work… I’m not convinced about men meeting up in groups to keep them accountable. There is a need for good friendships between peers, having older men you turn to and couples who share your life.”

    There’s something in this – perhaps we need to start fostering and nurturing informal but lasting accountability structures like these rather than the formal, clunky ‘mens group’ approach.

  2. Curt Day says:

    Just a couple of comments. Success is always dangerous because of our pride. But success by itself, with no previous or following failures is the most dangerous. And denying failures so as to not experience pain is like ordering a double-success.

    Online life is what you make of it. I have a blog and so I need to spend a lot of time online. My blog has a purpose and keeps me thinking and I engage with a lot of people who disagree with me on other blogs. Also, because of circumstances, most of my communication with my best friend is online.

    Accountability is most likely to happen with best friends or those who give constant support.

    You need to see marriage as a support and/or a cause for support. And you must not expect your spouse to fill all of your needs as well as you need to encourage your spouse to have people to support your spouse in your marriage.

    Ministry is tough because I think that God wants to speak to use through Balaam’s donkey more than we want to acknowledge. That says something about us.

  3. anaquaduck says:

    “O Lord you’re beautiful” Keith Green

  4. anaquaduck says:

    Moses experienced the Lord’s discipline as did King David. As painful as these things may be, nothing is to hard for God’s gracious & faithful hand to lift our lives out from the mud & mire of our own doing.

  5. Bruce Russell says:

    I think you need to but “Success in ministry” in scare quotes.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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