Joseph Iregbu

Purpose Guy

A Plea for Personal Integrity Among Pastors

This summer, I took part in a series of weekly calls for nearly 4 months with leaders committed to growing and learning. Together, we ‘chewed’ on difficult spiritual subjects as we reflected on our own lives.

One of those difficult topics we wrestled with was personal integrity in ministry and among the pastorate across the church at large. This is certainly not an easy one.

The coherence of words, deeds and motive

When you search the meaning of the word ‘integrity’, you get words and phrases such as “undivided” “honest, strong moral principles” “internal consistency” “coherent” “probity”

When a leader’s integrity becomes questionable, the authenticity and power of the gospel that he/she preaches gradually fades. The issue is not the gospel of Christ but the man with the gospel.

Pastors have a higher moral and spiritual duty to guard what they say, how they live and why they do both.

If any of these three are misaligned between what is seen on the pulpit and what is experienced outside of it (publicly or privately), you’d lose credibility and consequently the church of Christ loses precious souls.

Integrity is about making sure our words, deeds and motives are one in holiness and righteousness.

It's easy to preach but without a daily embrace of grace and humility, what's preached cannot transform the preacher. Click To Tweet

We have a problem!

When church leaders become preoccupied with protecting their image and ‘my ministry’ at the expense of personal truth and transparency (whatever the cost), we have a problem — Ephesians 4:25.

When church leaders measure others with a high scriptural yardstick but fail to apply the same to themselves, we have a problem — Romans 2:11, Leviticus 19:15.

When church leaders set out to control the narrative about people’s lives and circumstances to suit their own cause, we have a problem — 1 Peter 5:3 (read verses 1-5 for context).

When church leaders fail to surround themselves with strong leaders who can speak truth to power (in humility and respect) without fear of retribution, we have a problem — Galatians 2:11-14

When church leaders cannot be accountable to the led but see themselves as being above the pew, we have a problem — Matthew 20:25-28, Mark 9:35, Proverbs 27:17.

When church leaders demand personal loyalty to build ‘their ministry’ at the expense of Christ and the gospel, we have a problem — 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, 10-15

When church leaders embody bitterness, refuse to forgive offences and cannot apologise when wrong, we have a problem — Matthew 5:23-24, Matthew 18:15-17, Colossians 3:12-15.

Go back to the basics

So many scandals have embroiled the modern church for centuries and you always find a strand of lack of personal integrity in leadership at the root cause.

This is not an opportunity to vent at leaders but to pray for them. Pastors are human beings whose ultimate need each day is the grace of God.

They’re under immense pressure to be spiritual gatekeepers. They also have their own families to oversee, a local church to serve and spiritual battles to fight.

Our obligation is to pray for and encourage our pastors with our obedience to Christ.

But Pastors must take personal responsibility and guard their integrity. The way forward is to embrace the call to servant leadership like Jesus did.

Don’t seek to build an empire. It’s not your church; it’s the church of Christ and He’s the One building it, not you. That’s a huge burden lifted when Pastors realise “I’m not the centre of attraction here, Jesus is.”

When church leaders make their service all about Jesus, we will experience a new outpouring of grace and growth. Let’s go back to the basics.

Photo by Jukka Aalho on Unsplash.

About Joseph Iregbu

From a homeless, near-school-dropout to living a story worth telling. Purpose is my passion. What's your story?

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