While chatting with a dear and trusted youth ministry friend last evening, we were trying to make sense of the day’s news regarding the downfall of more of our own. There was a kind of accountability taking place in our conversation as we reminded each other of the fact that while we might be tempted to jump into that social media soup where fingers of condemnation are pointed, empty or false explanations/defenses are made, and conclusions are jumped to. And that’s not all. The greatest danger is that we are tempted to talk about the sin, mistakes, and shortcomings of others that we so easily move on without doing what is actually most important in these moments: thinking seriously about ourselves.

Today and the coming days are going to be filled with opportunities to focus on those whose names are in the news. But may I suggest another path we all need to take? I would strongly suggest that we all need to make up our minds to lean into Godly wisdom while stepping slowly (or maybe even better. . . not at all) into the online conversations that will take place today. And, in the time we might have spent in conversations with others, we should commit to listening to and conversing with the Lord, simply asking Him to teach us what we need to know about ourselves. You see, truth be told, the fact is that there but for the grace of God. . .

There will come a time when those charged with oversight and who need to respond will sort things out and come up with a response. Facts that today are only speculation. . . and not even known at this point! . . . might come to light. When and if that time comes, we will be able to humbly enter into conversations about precipitating factors, dangerous decisions, and even how to best respond to circumstances like these. . . but that time is not now. And when that time does come, it will still be a time that should prompt deep introspection into our own lives, commitments to change where needed, and the resolve to lead our students well based on how the Lord has directed our own lives.

So this morning, I am thinking about something I read earlier this week in Rico Tice’s book, Faithful Leaders and the Things That Matter Most. His words hit me hard when I read them the other day, and they hit even harder this morning: “So the key to a ministry that is useful to the Master is not less than teaching the Word faithfully, but it is more than that. The key is not academic qualifications or rhetorical eloquence or inspiration vision-casting. It is godliness. . . . That’s the call – to cut the Word straight, and to get our character clean.” Again, there but for the grace of God. . .

Today, let’s use the news about others as a prompt not to speculate or point fingers, but to focus in on the deepest and darkest corners of our own lives, recognizing that all of us need to “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, Resist him, firm in your faith. . .” (I Peter 5:8-9).

Let me remind you of four necessary prayers to pray today – and everyday – as you immerse yourself in reading the truths’ of God’s Word. . .

“Lord, show me You.”

“Lord, show me me.”

“Lord, show me Your plans and will for my life.”

“Lord, show me the enemy’s schemes and methods to undo me and your work through my life.”

As you go about your day today, keep in mind this Puritan Prayer from The Valley of Vision prayer book. . . a prayer regarding the very real stumbling blocks and evils each of us faces in our ministries. . .


Four evils attend my ministry —
      The devil treads me down by
  discouragement and shame
    arising from coldness in private meditation.
Carelessness possesses me
  from natural dullness and dimness of spirit;
    because in the past I have met with success
      and been highly regarded,
    so that it does not matter if I have now failed.
Infirmities and weakness are mine
  from want of spiritual light, life and power,
    so that souls have not been helped,
      and I have not felt thee to be near.
Lack of success has followed even when
  I have done my best.
But thou hast shown me that the glory of everything
  that is sanctified to do good
    is not seen in itself,
    but in the source of its sanctification.
Thus my end in preaching is to know Christ,
    and impart his truth;
  my principle in preaching is Christ himself,
    whom I trust,
  for in him is fullness of spirit and strength;
  my comfort in preaching is to do all for him.
Help me in my work to grow more humble,
  to pick something out of all providences
    to that end,
  to joy in thee and loathe myself,
  to keep my life, being, soul, and body
    only for thee,
  to carry my heart to thee in love and delight,
  to see all my grace in thee, coming from thee,
  to walk with thee in endearment.
Then, whether I succeed or fail,
    nought matters but thee alone.

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