Pastoral Failure and Righteous Fear

Growing up in Eastern Pennsylvania, I and my brothers and sisters grew up with an awareness that our family name “meant something” in the neighborhood. We weren’t rich. Dad usually was working three jobs and Mom also worked outside the home for different stretches when things still managed to get tight. Raising 7 children spread out over 19 birth years with 6 of them going to college, is a bit expensive. Dad coached the five boys through various football and baseball seasons and doted over his two daughters. Mom and Dad were married for 50 years before Leukemia took him from us and 5 years later, an aortic aneurysm took Mom. There was an unspoken respect for our family that I think went back to my grandfather and grandmother and their five children and the bakery they owned.

One of the effects of the awareness of the family’s good name is that we feared bringing shame to the name. It kept us from much evil.  Fear of doing something that would bring shame upon the family name in some way was good for us. Mind you, we were no angels and I was probably the worst, but fear of shaming the name was real for all of us. It protected us from much that was evil. .

Recently, my heart has been broken by national reports of pastors who have shamed the name of Christ and His Church. In each case abuses of power and finances have led to scandal, shame and embarrassment for the people of God. More importantly is the opportunity such scandals give for those who despise the church and the Savior to deepen their animas and harden their hearts toward God even more. I immediately think of the curse that Eli’s sons brought against themselves with their own wicked service in exercising their priestly duties: 

12 Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord 13 and the custom of the priests with the people. When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand. 14 Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. Thus they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15 Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest meat for roasting, as he will not take boiled meat from you, only raw.” 16 If the man said to him, “They must surely burn the fat first, and then take as much as [d]you desire,” then he would say, “No, but you shall give it to me now; and if not, I will take it by force.”17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the Lord. (NASB95)

People of God, There are Wolves Among Us

Wolves like Hophni and Phineas (Eli’s sons), and wolves like pastors who steal church funds and abuse pastoral position and power for their own comfort, pleasure and egos are not new. Be aware people. The problem is not new. Paul talks about some of these kind of leaders (sic) in 2 Timothy 2:16-18 and warned the Ephesian elders about their rise in the early church (Acts 20:25-35). He called them “savage wolves.” Unfortunately, God has people who serve Him who seem more interested in serving themselves. And this is a problem that every pastor and elder in a church should keep in mind. 

This entire post was inspired by my reading of Psalm 69 yesterday. Verse 6 arrested my attention:

May those who wait for You
……..not be ashamed through me,
O Lord GOD of hosts;

May those who seek You
……..not be dishonored through me,
O God of Israel,

Psalm 69:6

Men, let’s make this prayer a regular part of our quest for the highest personal integrity. Our holy Lord deserves the holiest service and His Church needs loyal and godly servants. We are to be shepherds of God’s people not wolves. Let’s be holy in all our conduct.


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