One of the things I believe is lacking in modern ministerial training is giving young ministers insight on how they should compartmentalize their lives. I am not talking about the controversial ideology of “code switching” where one alters their behavior in order to fit in within a certain group or culture. I am, instead, speaking of drawing boundaries around their lives to prevent them from performing premature actions, developing overreaching relationships and becoming highly vulnerable to immoral conduct.
Thousands upon thousands of ministers end up costing churches and ministries millions of dollars annually in public relations damage control, court fees and insurance deductibles. Aside from the monetary cost, it does not compare to the immeasurable damage done to thousands upon thousands affected by the scandal, divorce, and family/church diasporas that take place, simply because some people were not trained in ministry to “look for the line”.
Let me preface my next few statements by saying three things.
- When I speak of young ministers, I am not strictly referring to age. I am also speaking of ministers who are recently called or have recently acknowledged their call to ministry.
- In no way am I making excuses for those who have succumb to their flesh. On the contrary, I am addressing a need that exists within the realm of ministry etiquette that is often overlooked and/or ignored.
- In no way am I blaming the mature minister for the ills within ministerial ranks, nor am I relieving the young minister of his or her personal responsibility to their own spiritual development.
Though my wife and I have counseled several men and women on both sides of spiritual, social and psychological damage within the church, we have also been givers and recipients of the same. I believe now is a good place to state that crossing this line does not always involve sexual inappropriateness or financial improprieties. It sometimes involves overly excessive emotional investments.
I recently watched a video of the artist T Pain describe how he damaged and almost lost valuable relationships with people who loved him the most because he was chasing industry numbers to be affirmed by people who only cared about his product while neglecting those who appreciated his person. It was a living testimony of Jesus’ inquiry in Matthew 16:26a, “What is a man profited, if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”
I give that statement to make this parallel; many times people cross the line in ministry because they are chasing something. Some are chasing approval, some are chasing accomplishment to prove something, some are chasing acceptance and some unknowingly have a need to be needed. Each of these pursuits dilute the purity of serving in ministry, thus opening the door to illicit interactions that causes one to lose their soul (mind, will and emotional stability).
Loss Of The Mind
When the statement “lose your mind” is used, it is often used figuratively. But it is quite possible for a person to literally lose their minds in a world of false pretenses and erroneous imaginations. In the case of crossing the line, a person’s imagination will begin to convince them that it’s okay to call, text or talk to the wrong people at destructive hours of the day or night. People will literally think themselves into believing that it’s okay to set a crook over their finances. They may also convince themselves to take what they have no legal right to have. Individuals will oversimplify grace, love and support by allowing people who they have not vetted to have access to intimate parts of their life and person. All because of the aforementioned reasons of acceptance, approval, accomplishment and a need to be needed. These steps create strongholds in the mind where it becomes almost impossible to convince them that they are in error in their thinking.
Loss Of Will
In the book War On The Saints, Jessie Penn Lewis speaks on the concept of passivity of soul. In a nutshell, it is where one opens themselves up to forces that control the will without judging whether or not the force is godly or not. Many have given their wills over to forces that arrest their behavior and bring them into the bondage of condemnation. Because of my own personal history with this concept, I am one refuses to look at individuals who have crossed the line of relational or behavioral immorality and say, “now they should know better”. I am old enough and experienced enough now to know that there is an extremely minute group of people who wake up one day and say, “I’m about to go out and screw up every relationship in my life by doing such and such with such and such.” No! There are ancient, atmospheric and territorial forces that seek to sift the uninformed young minister.
Jesus talks to Peter in Luke 22:31, and He starts by calling him Simon. which means little pebble, to indicate to Peter (stone), I am not talking to your strength, but your weakness. Jesus then tells him, “Satan has desired to HAVE YOU, that he may sift you as wheat.” Now we know that in verse 32 Jesus told Peter that he would overcome because of the prayers that He (Christ) had already prayed. But what happens to the young anointed, Spirit-filled minister who is celebrated, but has no one praying for them in the areas of their greatest vulnerability. This minister is susceptible to an onslaught of spiritual forces that long for his or her soul. In an effort to subsidize their weakness of being accepted, approved, accomplished and needed, the minister is often overtaken in his/her will and generally cannot break free from the behavior that these forces have seduced them into without the aide of able and spiritually mature ministers (II Timothy 2:24-26; Galatians 6:2). Without this support, there are only two other options for the young minister in scenario such as this: death or devilish deliverance (I Corinthians 5:5). This tragedy in the Kingdom is due to the lack of proper prayer and preparation on the part of the young minister and transparency on the part of the mature minister.
Loss Of Emotional Stability
The Greek transliteration for the word soul in the New Testament scriptures is the word psuche, from which we derive our English word psyche, and that being the root word for psychology. Some would limit psychology to the study of the mind, but rightly translated psychology is the study of the soul. Unless one is a trained practitioner, we rarely refer to emotions when we engage psychology, but emotionalism plays a vast part in the dealings of the soul. It is the aspect of the soul that pertains non-physical feeling. It is easy to control our physicality through various restraints, but how does one restrain invisible and ethereal feeling. You can’t lock down feelings, you can only change them, but the faculties of change for feelings are in power of the mind and will, and within the compartment of the heart (our innermost self). So if I lose my mind to falsehoods and lose my will to unseen forces, my feelings have no restraint and it is the emotional aspect of the human being that seeks to enthrone itself as the governing force over our entire existence. It is the emotional feeling nature of the soul that seeks to dethrone God and detach us from Him. In James 1:8 we find that a double minded (dipsuchos) individual is unstable in every way. Why? Because the emotions have taken total authority and the unrestrained feelings change like the wind.
The young minister who places no boundaries within the construct of their ministry will cause their mind to be hijacked by lies, their will to be taken captive by Satan, leaving their life to be molested and abused by their unstable emotions. In order to ensure that they remain in control, emotions elect a king by the name of Bitterness who anchors the rule of the emotions, to trouble the young minister and contaminate nearly everyone that they minister to.
Hebrews 12:14-15 KJV 14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
It is not enough for the minister to be anointed if no one ever sits him or her down to assist them with developing a vision for their ministry. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” The literal meaning of the word perish in that proverb is to “cast off restraint” or to be without stable boundaries. Mature and covering ministers have a responsibility in assisting young ministers in developing a governing blueprint for their ministry.
- How do you approach scripture and apply it to daily life and culture?
- How do you engage the culture?
- What specific subject are you called to be a biblical practitioner in?
- What specific forces and oppositions are you created to overcome?
- What are the gifts given by the Holy Spirit to employ?
- How will you equip your family for the work of the ministry and the adversity that comes along with serving?
- What audience is God calling you to speak to?
- Where specifically does God want you to be located for ministry?
- How should you conduct yourself on social media or should you (specifically) even be engaged in that medium?
These and other similar questions are what helps to develop law in the life of the young minister. Law (not speaking of Levitical in the case of this article) establishes order and makes the boundaries for one’s life clear. There has always been law of some form in place within the universe. There was law in the garden, in the wilderness, in the promised land and yes there is even law within grace and laws that govern the eternal kingdom. Grace demands a law comprised of holiness and peace, lest any man fail (Hebrews 12:14-15). It is vital to understand that peace does not entail pleasing and placating everyone. Instead, it involves setting boundaries on what and who we allow our person and our souls to encounter on a consistent basis. When there is no self-governing vision that is developed through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and through the biblical counsel of wise men, the young minister is left to do what they feel is right. In the end, the young minister becomes a casualty of their own ignorance; being overtaken by bad reputation, sickness in the body, psychosomatic issues, divorce, children with undisciplined appetites, illegitimate connections, and even demonic oppression (Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25).
The unrestrained soul of the young minister is a recipe that overloads them with the competing natures of depression and anxiety. Therefore, in addition to assisting with the development of vision, the mature minister must emulate Christ by teaching young ministers to pray more that they praise, preach, prognosticate or prophesy. While a vision helps to establish boundaries for the conduct of the minister, prayer helps to set boundaries on consciousness of the minister
Philippians 4:6-7 KJV 6 Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep (guard) your hearts (souls) and minds (faculties for mental perception) through Christ Jesus. (Emphasis Me).
If we as mature ministers license and ordain young ministers without assisting them with the development and execution of a vision and the establishment of a prayer-filled life, we not only do them a disservice, we become accomplices to every improper or illicit act they perform.
1 Timothy 5:22 KJV Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.