Seven Deadly Sins of Ministers

There is no exemption from temptation for anyone.Temptation (1).jpg

Certainly there is no exemption for a minister. There are all kinds of temptations for a minister.

These include:

Sloth  The minister who just gets by in his work. No real sense of working for the Lord. This can also describe the minister who is busy with the wrong things. Sloth has a way of deadening a person to any real sense of joy.

Greed The minister who is always wanting more. There is no sense of contentment or thankfulness for his present circumstances. He entertains a possible move to a church primarily because his salary would be increased significantly. He then says that the Lord “called” him there. Sometimes greed is seen in some very quiet ways such as taking on a large amount of credit card debt so the family can enjoy cars, vacations, furniture, forms of entertainment that are way beyond their means.

For many ministers, however, the greatest form of greed is that which is focused on their craving for approval, affirmation, and recognition. This form of greed can be absolutely intoxicating. There is never enough.   

Lust The minister who allows himself the luxury of looking at pornography on the Internet. After all the work and sacrifice, he decides that he deserves a break. Meanwhile, another minister might focus on his craving for power. This person seems to always be keeping score of who is getting their way in the church. These ministers may be on a path to self-destruction by their obsession with sex or power.

Gluttony  The minister who does not seem to have self-control. This person does nothing in moderation. Something is out of control. For many people, this may relate to eating and the care (or neglect) of their body. Unfortunately, in many church cultures, this is seen as a joke. Men and women may laugh at over-the-top eating and even make light of gluttony.

Anger The minister who has never dealt with his anger. Consequently, much of his emotional life is fueled by old anger issues. This may be the anger that he has with his father, with churches from the past, or even with God. He might deny that he has an anger problem. However, one does not have to be around him for very long before realizing that just below the surface, his anger is simmering. He preaches messages about the grace of God but is easily irritated by the faults of others. Far too often, his family and the congregation have felt the impact of his anger.

Envy The minister who envies other ministers. He resents other ministers who speak at more events and are better known. He can’t understand why he hasn’t had the opportunity to minister at churches that are visible and seemingly “important.” This person resents that others always seem to get the breaks.

Pride The minister who wants people to know just how important he really is. This may be the minister who is always reminding others of his extensive experience. Or, this may be the person who wants everyone to know about his vast knowledge. Or, this may be the minister who finds creative ways to let others know about his competence. As one guy told me some years ago. “Yea, I moved to this church and went to work. They had never seen anyone like me. They couldn’t believe how quickly the church grew.”

Sound familiar?

Those who have learned to walk with God humbly often approach life and temptation humbly as well. They know that without God’s provisions, they would easily become entangled in anyone of these sins. Meanwhile, others who are overly confident may assume they would never have any problem with any one of these.

Not wise.


What other temptation would you add to this list?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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11 thoughts on “Seven Deadly Sins of Ministers

  1. Not sure I’d come up with other ‘sins’ but there are definitely behaviors that will undermine a minister’s leadership.

    I’m usually not one to critique someone else’s writing, but having been one who has battled lust in my life I take exception to the way you phrased ‘allows himself the luxury of looking at porn’. There is no luxury. There is no allowing. Knowing you from your writings over the last few years I’m sure you didn’t mean anything by that choice of words. I thought you’d want to hear my reaction, though.

    • Brad, thanks for telling me how that phrase sounded to you. I failed to communicate clearly. What I was trying to convey was the rationalization I’ve heard from some people regarding this issue. They somehow conclude that since they do so much good, since they are not being treated right in their church, and since they are just worn out, they will give themselves a pass and allow themselves the luxury of doing what they tell others not to do.

      Of course you are right, in reality this is no luxury. DIsobedience is not to experience true luxury but is to settle for something false and fleshly. And– one does not have the authority to give himself a pass from obedience to indulge his lusts.

      Again, thanks for your response. I needed to clarify what I meant.

  2. As you say in your opening sentence, ‘There is no exemption from temptation for anyone.’ Some of those sins are more private and no one is the wiser – but God sees all. Good post to think on!

    • Great point! We do live in the presence of God, regardless of how private and secretive some aspects of our lives may seem. God’s ability to see all means that not only does he see every good intention of our hearts but also the deceptions of our hearts as well.

  3. Good, Jim. (ha! You are a good Jim!) The frustrating thing to me is that some of these get worse, rather than better, with age. I find myself worrying more about being able to provide for my wife in the future, which makes me more greedy – I need to get all I can now! That is not a good reaction to the problem. It seems that a lot of people around me feel the same way. All our tensions find an easy outlet in the temptations you mention.

    • Very good points, Darryl. Interesting that age doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of struggle, hurdles, or failure. Lately been thinking about what it means to grow up instead of just growing old. I think there is a huge difference.

      I think you are right about the tension and the outlets. In fact, when faced with pain, quite often we will look for almost anything that seems to promise that the pain will stop. Contrast this with Jesus’ words regarding following him even in the midst of pain. Seems that he was suggesting that pain can be quite formative.

  4. Jim, thanks for posting these. I think most ministers will do a round with all of those…and struggle with them in ebbs and flows over the years.

    • Tim,
      It seems that what makes many of us even more susceptible is a prideful attitude that says that we are above all of this. I have found it helpful to attempt to live as if were capable of doing most anything.

  5. It seems these are vices that all men face. It’s almost as though selfishness is the root cause of them all…and that selflessness is the cure.

    • I suspect you are right, Tim. Selfishness and the pride that feeds our selfishness really does create an environment where we are vulnerable to all kinds of fleshly behaviors.