Since Jesus saved me 6 years ago, I’ve had to watch many of my friends, mentors, and other spiritual leaders around the country be disqualified from ministry. As I’ve been reflecting on many of these stories and situations, the bible has jumped off the pages and compelled me to share these truths with you.
It really comes down to one thing… This one thing has been behind EVERY spiritual leader who has ever been disqualified. This one thing is behind EVERY moral failure in a person’s life. This one thing is behind EVERY broken marriage. This one thing will either ruin or fuel our lives, marriages, and ministries. This one thing is: the Secret Places of our lives and hearts.
Who are you when nobody's watching?
The real me is not what I do when I'm behind the pulpit or who people perceive me to be from my social media platform, but it’s who I am in the secret places of my life. It doesn't matter how "skilled” I am in organizational leadership or how well I can exegete a text or preach or how big I can grow a gathering- the secret places of our hearts and lives are what matters.
The New Testament is saturated with this truth. Here are a few examples:
“And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” -Matthew 6:4, 6, 18
“…God judges the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.” -Romans 2:16b
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” -Matthew 23:25
Are the secret places of your life consumed with secret joys- prayer, devotion, thriving marriage, and generosity, or is the person you are in secret inconsistent with who you are publicly- neglecting your wife and kids on the altar of ministry, emotional affairs, porn, laziness, etc.?
It’s about the heart.
The actions we do in secret are a direct representation of the condition of our hearts. When our hearts are abiding in Jesus, the actions we produce in secret are good. When our hearts are left unchecked for too long, the actions we produce in secret will eventually be sinful.
“Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” -Proverbs 4:21b
How’s your heart right now? What sinful desire or thought have you let linger?
The reason the secret places of our hearts and lives are neglected, and our sinful thoughts and desires concealed, is because we have believed the lie that we’re not allowed to struggle because we’re spiritual leaders. This is false- we are human and we will struggle. What disqualifies us is not sinful thoughts or desires- it’s when we conceal them and they birth sin.
Another reason we are unwilling to expose the secret places of our hearts is because we have turned ministry into our god. When God is our greatest treasure, we are willing to sacrifice anything to get more of Him. We’re willing to give up fame, followers, and fortune for the sake of our soul’s intimacy with Jesus. When ministry takes God’s place as our greatest treasure, anything that could possibly hinder numbers, growth, and popularity is considered evil- exposing the secret places of our hearts.
The reason we can expose the secret places of our lives and hearts is because the gospel is true. Historically, at the Passover meal, there is a ritual hand washing, but at the Last Supper when Jesus and the disciples were eating the Passover meal, Jesus got down on his knees and washed the disciples feet (the most secret and disgusting part of a person in those days). This shows that Jesus is not scared of the most secret and disgusting parts of us. He desires to clean us up.
Jesus Christ really did come to earth in the flesh, lived a perfect life, and died on a criminal’s cross for ALL of our sin (public and secret). Keeping things hidden is evidence we don't really believe the gospel and we’re scared of condemnation; a person who genuinely believes the gospel is free to expose darkness in those secret places because we are eternally secure and completely forgiven.
So, what secrets do you have? What is in your past that you have sworn you’ll take with you to the grave? What secret sins do you have that you think you are controlling? What secret desires and thoughts have you not confessed because you are a “spiritual leader?"
- Call someone you can trust and confess those secrets today… (your soul, marriage, and ministry depend on it)
- Spend as close to an hour alone with Jesus every day... Not for sermon prep or planning the next initiative, but enjoying Jesus and bringing him all of your junk (this is the 1 thing that if neglected turns a calling into a career... An overflow into an idol)
- Be rooted in transparent biblical community (where you're not viewed as the leader; with friends not followers). Practice real raw confession and repentance. If you don't have anyone you can talk to, shoot me an email and I'd be happy to set up a phone call to chat- firstname.lastname@example.org