What's the Count, Ump?

Todd Rhoades at Monday Morning Insight blogged recently about an Oklahoma City television station that tracked a pastor, undercover, for six weeks as he spent hours and hours, and hundreds of dollars, at a strip club. The news report is one of the most disgusting and disheartening things you can imagine. Rhoades says:
I think this is a great example of what I'm calling a 'three strike pastor':

Strike one:

This guy had absolutely no accountability, it seems. He took off for hours from the church; and when the reporters called the church, no one seemed to know where he was at, other than at 'an appointment'.

Pastor... it is important for someone to ALWAYS know where you are at. ALWAYS. That might seem like a violation of personal freedom; and maybe it is. But it's absolutely necessary.

Your assistant and your wife need to know where you are at all times. We live in the day of smart phones. A quick phone call or text can confirm your location very quickly. Heck, even a geo-coded twitter message will do the trick.

Strike two:

This pastor is totally duplicitous. He is totally living a double life. On Sunday, he preaches about having righteousness; on Monday, he's 'horny as hell'. And he's able to live both lives openly and freely, as long as they don't meet.

Strike three:

Lying... This pastor was in sin WAY over his head. His excuse initially: he had gone to help counsel someone in their Celebrate Recovery program, and that was a mistake. (Somehow, I knew this was all Rick Warren's fault!) After all, if that was true, the hug and kiss in the parking lot, the locking himself in the bathroom for hours; and the attempt at a covert, speedy getaway would all confirm that, right?

It didn't.

Let me throw out a suggestion today. Do this three strike test:

1. Do you have accountability? If not get some today; this minute. If not, consider it strike one.

2. Are you living duplicitously? Are you preaching one thing on Sunday and living a totally different lifestyle the rest of the week? I'm not talking little stuff here. Don't get bogged down in that. I'm talking specific sins that you preach about; that the Bible is very clear on; that you have made your secret lifestyle. You know what classifies as this. If you have to ask or justify; consider this confirmation. If you are currently living a double life that only you and God (and maybe another person other than your spouse know about): strike two.

3. Is there anything in your life or lifestyle that will cause you to lie if you're asked about it out of the blue? Is there anything that will cause you to lie to cover your butt, save your job, save your marriage, or keep you from public humiliation? If you're not willing to tell the truth about anything and everything... strike three.

Here's the reality: while most pastors and church leaders are obedient and faithful to their calling; there are also many 'three-strike' pastors out there.

If you're a three-strike pastor: get out.

Quit your job today and move at least a thousand miles away.

Then, get some help.

Work at McDonalds if you have to; but stop defiling the office that God has called you to.

Get out; and find something honorable to do with your time.

DISCLAIMER: Please don't misunderstand me. There are MANY instances where pastors should stay on, get accountability, and work through their situations. In fact, this should happen in most situations. None of us are perfect, by any means. What I'm talking about is someone who has slid into the traps of sin to the level that this man did. He didn't slip one day and spend hundreds of dollars and hours and hours in a strip club instantly. This was most likely the result of years of sin; that probably started out almost innocently but grew into a stage four cancer.

My word of encouragement for all of us today. Maybe you have one strike. Maybe two. But take action today... right now... to get a new at bat.

Don't get the third strike.

Because when you get the third strike, you're truly out.
This is great counsel. It happens too often, and it happens too easily. So take Todd's counsel, and take some time to step out of the batter's box, so to speak, and find out for sure what the count is. Before it's too late.

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