For those who don’t know, I’m a certified athletic trainer in my spare time. Actually, that was what I did before I was called to ministry. Then I became a bi-vocational minister.
What does a certified athletic trainer do, you ask? Well, I’m not a personal trainer. Certified athletic trainers are the people you see on television during sporting events who take care of injuries to athletes. There’s more we do. We prevent injuries by taping, monitor the conditions (weather), make sure athletes are hydrated, and a lot of other fun stuff.
Way back in the day, I worked outside of a large city for a big sports medicine clinic. One of the things I had to do was cover a lot of soccer tournaments on the weekend.
Many of those events take place during stormy months and it’s my job to make sure the tournament director knows when it’s time to go in. If there’s lightning in sight, they all have to go in.
Now, I’m talking about my former job over ten years ago in a metropolitan area. I’ve been the trainer at a lot of schools, but one interaction got my blood running.
There was lightning all around. It was within ten miles. I approached the tournament director and told him, “We have got to stop play right now. There’s lightning in the area.” His response? “We’re okay. The lightning isn’t that close.”
What triggers in a person’s mind like that? I already know. A coach wants to get as much field time in as possible. He thinks that he has to have as much outside time as he can get because he has a tournament to run. He thinks it makes his team better.
Not from my medical perspective. All I see are lightning bolts striking the kids and killing them. There are definitely two differently points of view going on.
Now, let’s turn it to a theological point of view.
At some point, we all dabble in sin. We look at it, think we can control it and we wade in it. Like the coaches who are staring at the lightning five miles away, we think we are fine. “It’s not going to hit here. We’re still okay for a few more minutes. I don’t care if I see it. I mean, what are the odds that we get struck by lightning?”
I get it, seriously. If I was running a sports program, I would probably feel the same way. Who cares about what the trainer says? That lightning is far off. It won’t be here for another ten minutes and we can get another ten plays in. We have to get this game in!
The only problem is that lightning can strike well before a storm. And after. It’s dangerous. But sometimes, we think that the dangerous lightning isn’t going to get near us. We think we are immune. Know why? Because we’ve never been struck by it before before. The chances are slim. It won’t happen to us. So, stick it, lightning. We won’t get hit. We’re invincible because we have statistics by our side.
When I was writing my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” one pastor quoted a proverb to me that I had never noticed before.
Can a man carry fire next to his chest, and his clothes not be burned? (Proverbs 6:27 ESV)
You know, I thought about that for a while. Dangit, Solomon was right. No one can carry sin along with them for any length of time and expect that they will get away with it. I didn’t. Some men and women are crafty enough to get away with it for years. But it will catch up to them.
It’s like lightning. Go ahead and go outside and practice when the trainer told you not to. It’s all around you while you stand out there with the huge metal poles that act like lightning attractors. But what the trainer is telling you is this, “It’s not safe. If you go out there, you have a risk of getting people killed. I can’t say for sure that kids will get killed, but if you got out there and practice, it could happen.”
The day I argued with that soccer coach, he finally conceded to go inside. Seconds later, lightning hit one of the poles on the field.
Did I get credit? Nope. What I heard was this – “We still could have gone another 5 minutes before the lightning came.”
Really? Okay. Great.
I’ve got a better one for you. There are a lot of pastors and others who read this blog and are meddling in sin. They think they have a handle on it. However, there is a huge, “Thunderstorm Warning” on their lives. I’ve been there. You cannot keep meddling with that sin. You cannot control that sin. When it comes to full fruition, you are a goner. You will lose it all.
Know what’s really ironic? My mother, who died a couple of years ago, wrote eight Christian non-fiction books. One of them was called “Temptaton: How Christians Can Deal With It.” She was wise in her writing. Maybe if only I had read it.
Stop meddling with sin now. Seek help. Confess. Find someone you can really trust to confide in. Otherwise, your sin will find you out in public. Email me and I’ll help you. But do not continue in your sin. It’s a thunderstorm waiting to happen. Come clean before you get caught.
No pastor is above reproach. Seek out the forgiveness of God. Repent now. Get help. Reverse the order of your life. Find people who will walk with you through this difficult time. I’m here. I’m networked with people who can help you. But stop pretending to be someone you’re not.
There are thousands like us. Thousands like me who fell in ministry. We want to help before and after you fall. We are here to minister to you. Let us do that for you.
Note: Right now, I’m working with other men who are currently networking together to help fallen pastors across the country. If you’re interested in joining us, drop me a line.
Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.
If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.
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