Big headlines have been made by pastors who had to leave their congregations for this or that obvious sin. Christianity Today, however, ran an article about how a pastor has left his position — not because of sex or money scandal, but because of pride: “C. J. Mahaney, president of Sovereign Grace Ministries, a national network of nearly 100 church plants, cited ‘various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment and hypocrisy’ in a July 6 statement explaining his indefinite leave.”
As the Christianity Today article points out, this sounds like how in March 2010 author John Piper took a leave of absence from being pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. Piper posted his reasons online : “I asked the elders to consider this leave because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit. … I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noel and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.”
Being a popular preacher and penning best-selling books would naturally take its toll on pastors. According to another Christianity Today article, some popular authors maintain their position in their churches — but mostly in name, letting other pastors do the heavy lifting: Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Max Lucado, Tim Keller, and Rob Bell.