Do preachers struggle with sin?

Question:

Hey Jeffrey,

I know as a Christian we are to do our best to abstain from sin at all costs. I also realize no man, except Jesus, is perfect. I have befriended my preacher, and he speaks as if he and his family are living in a glass house, all eyes are on them, and people seem to hold him to a ridiculously high standard. Since you are a preacher: do preachers struggle with sin? What should be done when a preacher sins?

Thank you


Answer:

Anyone who is in a leadership position experiences more scrutiny than a low-level worker. Just look at any country's leader and you see people analyzing every statement for all nuances. They don't do that for the janitor. You find piranha swimming around looking for the least mistake so they can pounce and, if they particularly don't like a person, they'll pounce on imaginary slip-ups. This is both good and bad. It is good because we want our leaders to be careful and set a good example. It is bad because it sets a different standard on another person than we place on ourselves.

"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you" (Matthew 7:1-2).

If you are able to see wrong in someone else, then it means there is no excuse when you do something similar. "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things" (Romans 2:1).

Still, preachers, elders, deacons, and teachers in a church are in a position of influence. If they stray into sin, often it doesn't just affect their own lives, others are dragged into it as well. God holds teachers to a higher standard. "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment" (James 3:1). You should expect those leading in the church to set good examples. "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. ... 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" (I Timothy 4:12, 16).

Unfortunately, there are brethren who believe preachers and elders must be perfect. People make mistakes and hopefully they learn from their mistakes. I've been a preacher for many years and now am an elder as well. I've made my share of mistakes. I appreciate the brethren who help me realize the problem and help me straighten out the situation; that is the way it should be. In some places it is "fire the preacher first," and then nothing is done to straighten out the problem because the apparent source of the problem is now gone. It becomes the path of least effort. It is sad because if a man does have a problem with sin, then he receives no help from his brethren to reach heaven.

Now, there are preachers and elders who fall into sin and refuse to change. These should be dealt with just as you would any other member of the church (such as Matthew 18:15-17). When an elder sins, preachers are particularly charged with dealing with the matter (I Timothy 5:19-20) and care is taken to avoid unjust or inaccurate charges since it will affect the man's influence in the congregation.