Currently, I am a Bible Study teacher for high schoolers and also one of the praise leaders for the college ministry in my church. I am in a habitual sin [porn addiction]. Should I step down as a leader until I am not struggling with this anymore?
If you would’ve asked me this a few years ago, I would’ve definitely told you to turn in your badge and hand over your Bible.
These days, I don’t make so many blanket-statements and I’m trying to see things on a case-by-case scenario. I don’t say this so you can do what you want, but I’ve seen plenty of flawed leaders serve through their issues just fine, so long as they’re taking steps to repent and overcome. They didn’t just confess and stay complacent — they confessed and made forward progress.
However, you must tell this to your pastor and church leadership. They have a right to know and they get to call the shots. If you were the senior pastor of this church, you would also want to know if one of your leaders was struggling with porn. If they ask you to step down, whether temporarily or permanently, you have to respect that decision.
The very fact that you’re messaging me shows you probably want to overcome this, and that’s a huge step in the right direction. I hope your church sees it that way, too — but whether they do or not, you need to tell them.
Ministries can only work when they are brutally transparent and fatally honest. If you keep this from them, you will both hurt yourself and hurt your people. If you’re honest, it still might hurt you and some others, but that’s where the healing can happen. Don’t hide it anymore.
If it were my church, I’d probably still keep you on the team and work with you on your battle. I don’t mean to “compare sins” or anything, but porn addiction is not the same thing as beating your wife or doing heroin or embezzling church funds (in which case I’d probably kick you out and call the cops [and counsel you from your jail cell]).
If you can remember the humility of being in leadership, then that fact alone should be enough motivation to defeat your habitual sin. Now add God plus your church cheering for you. So the only thing you need to do right now is to be honest. I’m hoping your church is a safe haven of grace that is willing to restore you. And if not, honesty is still the best and only policy.
Please remember that there’s no shame in stepping down, whether it’s your choice or theirs. It doesn’t have to be a big deal — it’s between you and the Lord and your mentor working some things out.
If your church decides to work with you on these things, then don’t beat yourself up out of perfectionism. Don’t let the devil tell you that you’re not good enough, because that’s actually a really lame gameplan. I’m not good enough? You’re right — I never was. Be patient and set up a good battle plan to face this head-on.
You can also still be a mentor for potential students to be leaders. Your students need to be able to function without you, so if one day you have a meltdown or you step down or you take a break — they won’t worry. They will, in fact, grow.
You should be doing that already anyway. My job as a leader is always to work myself out of a job. One of my absolutely favorite things to do is to promote younger people and build them up. Any chance I get, I brag on young disciples and cast big visions and promote their blogs and encourage them to step it up. Real leaders make leaders, in spite of (and even because of) their own brokenness.
Pray hard through these things. Ministry is serious. Fortunately, God is gracious. You can beat this sin. It’s not the only thing about you. God will help. Jesus was glad to die and rise for this very sin you’re fighting. You have the loving power of the Holy Spirit. And God is a God of second chances. He will love you all the way through it.