These are incredibly difficult times for pastors. Many of you are facing real health threats (which in some cases are heightened through your faithful ministry to people) as well as tough decisions, congregational divisiveness, an atmosphere of hostility, and many other challenges.
And of course, being isolated from our congregations (our church brothers and sisters) is growing old fast. We were created by God for relationship, first with Him and then with others. We long for and, in fact, need relationship with others. That’s just how we were made.
That’s why relational connections impact so much more than just our emotional health; they are a critical piece of our faith journey. We cannot love God without loving others! That’s why relational disconnect has an equal but opposite effect. It challenges our emotional health and makes our own faith journey more difficult. Many of you know from your own recent experience what I am describing.
According to BEFORE IT BEGINS, every one of the 20+ pastors who have called them for help has expressed feelings of loneliness and isolation! I believe that we all can relate to these feelings, especially during these times. If this is you, we want you to know that you are not the only one who feels this way.
I also want to ask you to take this moment to do a bit of reflection with God and take inventory as to how your disconnection during this time has affected you personally.
Consider questions such as:
- Have I experienced greater struggle with and temptations to compromise my personal purity and holiness?
- Has my thought life been set on things above?
- Has it seemed that there are more sexualized images than ever around me?
- Has it been increasingly challenging to resist the temptation to look at and think about these images?
Temptation is a part of life for everyone. Even Jesus, who never sinned throughout his entire life, “was tempted in every way, just as we are” (Hebrews 4:15).
So I want to be clear that temptation is not sin; we all have to deal with temptation. But an initial shift in attention is often the beginning of small compromises (e.g., glancing at an image for just a couple seconds more, or indulging in impure thoughts about that image) that can lead toward greater sins. Sadly, the likelihood of these initial compromises growing into something more destructive is significantly increased when we are lonely and disconnected from the positive relationships we experience within our church family.
If God is highlighting any of these real (and common) struggles in your life as you read this, then I would like to urge you to contact BEFORE IT BEGINS to learn more about how they can protect you during these times, before an imperceptible slide into sin is permitted to begin in your life.
As the name indicates, BEFORE IT BEGINS is a preventative ministry. Their Pastor Advocate service is meant to be a trustworthy and effective resource to protect your purity and help keep you on the right path during these times.
Pastor Advocates make a commitment to meet with you online or on a phone call, either weekly or bi-weekly, and offer prayer, accountability, coaching, and crisis support. But perhaps most important of all during these times, Pastor Advocates offer the thing that disconnected pastors need most — a caring relationship (friendship).
All BEFORE IT BEGINS Pastor Advocates are credentialed ministers themselves. They personally know what it is like to feel disconnected from others and how this disconnection can lead toward greater struggles and compromises. They are there to help you not go down this path.
Finally, I would like to remind you that all BEFORE IT BEGINS services are 100% confidential. Unless illegal activity is occurring, no one at the Missionary Church will ever find out who is working with BEFORE IT BEGINS. You have my word on that!
I urge you to check out their website at beforeitbegins.org, pick up the phone, and call one of their representatives at (805) 507-5511 to learn more about how they can help. And remember … BEFORE IT BEGINS even has services for your entire church! Contact them today! You will be glad you did.