Giving youth pastors the tools they need to make and shape disciples.

We’re No Heroes

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You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight

This multi-layered statement has been rolling around my brain like a pair of sneakers in a dryer.

I recently heard the news of Pastor Tony Evans, 74, stepping down from his church due to an unnamed sin. He has been pastor there for 50 years.

Then I heard, in the same week no less, that Robert Morris of Gateway church stepped down.

Part of me wants to say, “What is happening?” and the other part says, “This seems like par for the course.”

So, where does Harvey Dent and Batman come into this story?

It is my belief that the more “successful” you get in the ministry, the greater the chance you have of becoming the villain.

Let’s look at Harvey Dent. He was an upstanding district attorney of Gotham City until, in the comics, mob boss Sal Maroni threw acid in his face, deforming him and the Two Face character was born.

In the Dark Knight, Harvey Dent and Rachel, the love of his life, are kidnapped by the Joker and Batman and Commissioner Gordon are forced to choose between them, and Batman chooses to save Harvey Dent for which Harvey is furious.

In the process of being saved, half of Harvey’s face is burned off and Harvey eventually goes insane, becoming Two-Face, and goes after Batman and Commissioner Gordon.

Again, what does this have to do with Tony Evans, Robert Morris and maybe every Pastor and Christian who follows and serves the Lord for decades?

I have been in the ministry over 30 years. I have seen Pastors come and go, from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low. Everyone thinks they’re immune to sin until they’re not. I’m not judging either of these Pastors, I’m just wondering, do we all, eventually, become the villain?

To be honest, I think we use the phrase Heroes of the Faith way too much. I don’t think Sampson would consider himself a hero after getting his eyes gouged out because of his disobedience. Yes, he was redeemed, but a hero? To Israel, yes, to me, no.

David did some heroic things. He defeated giants and led and won great battles, but I don’t think he would consider himself a hero. Not after killing a woman’s husband so that he could take his woman whom he impregnated.

God redeemed David and even called him the apple of his eye, but a hero? No. He was a man. A flawed leader like the men we see falling today, like the men I saw fall 40 years ago.

Ask Carl Lenz or Brian Houston if they consider themselves heroes of the faith. My guess is they would say no, and yet, believers look for someone to make the hero, someone to build up until it’s time to tear them down.

I am also no hero. I’m just guy trying to encourage youth pastors to build “successful” youth ministries. If I’ve helped you, great, but I certainly don’t want to be anyone’s idol.

In the Dark Knight, the Joker sees Harvey as a real and righteous threat and seeks to corrupt him, to make him an agent of chaos. To prove that their are none righteous, no not one.

All the pastors I mentioned, have done some good in the world, but none of them are saints. And we should quit making saints, perfected beings, out of normal people who just happen to speak from a stage.

Lentz, Houston, Evans, Morris, Driscoll and thousands of pastors have also done good in the world and their work cannot be undone, lives are not untouched, but they were corrupted. Good men and women are tried and tested, daily, and there are millions of pastors, who you will never hear about who have been corrupted and left the ministry.

There are also millions of pastor who keep their head down, do not seek a stage or a spotlight and are just content to the work God gave them to do.

I believe the road to villain-hood becomes wider and wider the more worldly success is pursued and achieved. The devil doesn’t care if he kills you so long as he can corrupt you.

We’re No Heroes

Due to age and experience, and having seen enough fallen pastors over the past 40 years, I can tell you that nothing has changed. The love for the stage and the desire to be loved by people, pride, is still the corrupter the devil intended it to be.

Maybe this is why John the Baptist wore camel’s hair and ate bugs, he didn’t want to be admired or be the superstar. He knew his role, be the forerunner of the One who deserved all the praise.

In the end, if you’re going to do ministry for any amount of time, you have to be aware that the ministry can and will corrupt you, if you let it, be it from

> bitterness from seeing corrupt things happening around you (ask the Priest Eli)

> trying to minister out of emptiness, ignoring your relationship with God

> tasting success and wanting more of it, compromising to your own detriment

> being tired, feeling lonely and as a result, making bad choices.

There are many paths to corruption and they all lead to the same place, dishonor and disappointment.

No, pastor, you’re no hero. And you shouldn’t try to be one.

Just be faithful and reject anything that tries to corrupt your best intentions.

The good news is, God loves the minister more than the ministry,

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

1 Corinthians 3:10–15

Doxology

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished in His glorious presence, with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord before all time, and now, and for all eternity.

Jude 1:24,25

“Don’t be a hero” is more than a movie cliche’ it’s wise advice.

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