As president of Peacemaker Ministries—which has worked with hundreds of churches to quell disputes using biblical principles—Dale Pyne has seen his fair share of pastoral failings. He spoke with CT editor Mark Galli about what pressures tempt pastors to fall, and what they need to finish their ministry with a clean slate.
Aside from a pastor's personal weaknesses, what cultural forces make it harder for pastors to stay true in their calls?
We have a cultural tendency to elevate leaders. Maybe it's because they have an extraordinary education or a title or a position. Maybe it is because they have had a great deal of success in the growth of their church, or as an author or speaker. Whatever the reason, we're creating minigods in our minds and hearts. That creates expectations in leaders, and expectations are the foundations for disappointment.
What does that look like in a local church?
Maybe the pastor receives disproportionately large gifts compared to what's given to associates or other staff. Or the senior pastor is seen as the person that we all go to. It's people saying, "The pastor sat at my table," or, "The pastor was over at my house." As if the pastor is a movie star or sports figure.
I don't know how many times in Peacemaker's work, after coming in to help a church, I've heard elders say, "I wanted to say something, but I thought, Who am I?" We elevate pastors to a place where we feel they know so much more than we do, so we don't hold them accountable to some fundamental issues.
We put them on a pedestal that gets taller and taller. When the pedestal starts to totter, the pastor doesn't have anywhere to go. If he realized that he had a sin problem and desired to address or confess it, his place on the pedestal ...