by Joel Comiskey
Satan hates pastors and leaders. They are his primary target. Peter Wagner argues in Prayer Shield (pp. 66-75) that pastors and Christian leaders are attacked more frequently because:
- Pastors have more responsibilities and accountability
- Pastors are more subject to temptation
- Pastors are more targeted by spiritual warfare
- Pastors have more influence on others
- Pastors have more visibility
The same is true for cell leaders, supervisors, and church planters because they are also caring for the flock and influencing others. Today I read the headline, “Popular Megachurch Pastor Busted in Prostitution Sting.” These headlines are becoming commonplace. Wagner writes, “Over the past couple decades, an alarming number of pastors have dropped out of the ministry for two main reasons: pastoral burnout and sexual immorality. The numbers have reached epidemic proportions” (Prayer Shield, p.17). A 2016 USA study by the Josh McDowell and George Barna found, “Most pastors (57%) and youth pastors (64%) admit they have struggled with porn, either currently or in the past.” The shocking finding was that 21 percent of youth pastors and 14 percent of pastors admit they currently struggle with using porn.
As leaders in Christ’s church, what can we do to protect ourselves and reverse this trend? Allow me to suggest three things:
- Prioritize prayer. I’m referring here to two things: First, make sure you have a dynamic quiet time each day. Second, develop a prayer shield of people who are committed to praying for you.
- Prioritize your spouse and family. John Maxwell once said, “Success is having those closest to you love and respect you the most.” Don’t allow spouse and family to take a back seat to ministry.
- Prioritize rest. Are you taking a day off? How about regular vacations? What about getting enough sleep each night? I remember one missionary boasting that he never took a day off. This is nothing to boast about. Leaders who come away frequently to rest are more energized in ministry. God is a God of rest. He commanded his people in the Old Testament to rest one day out of the week, along with required festivals where no “regular work” was permitted. He required these things because he knew his human creation needed to be recharged.
Ministry in general is demanding, and so is cell ministry. But spiritual disciplines and family priorities come before ministry. They are the leader’s wellspring and keys to long-term success. When pastors and cell leaders fail to receive Christ’s living water and do not come away to rest frequently, Satan has an opportunity to deceive and destroy.