NOTE: I wrote this post in 2015. It’s now been over five years since Prof passed away. His life and death continue to impact my life and ministry, as well as the life and ministry of countless others. Prof’s love for the Word and for the God of the Word challenge and spur me on. To say I’m grateful is a major understatement.
One of my favorite professors at Dallas Seminary was a guy named Dr. Howard ‘Prof’ Hendricks. Prof passed away on February 20, 2013. I can say with confidence that he helped me grow in my love for God’s Word more than any other person in my life. In fact, one of the reasons I chose to attend Dallas Seminary was so I could meet Prof and learn from him. I took three classes with him and loved all of them, including Bible Study Methods.
If you want to learn how to read, understand and apply God’s Word to your life, one of the first books I’d recommend is his book Living by the Book. Someday I will take my boys through this book to teach them how to study the Bible and learn to love God’s Word.
Prof loved Jesus, and he loved reading God’s Word. A few of my favorite “Profisms”:
- “It’s a sin to bore people with the Word of God.”
- “If it’s a mist in the pulpit, it’s a fog in the pew!”
- “If you’re just like someone else, we don’t need you!”
- “You never graduate from the school of discipleship.”
- “You can do many things. But be sure you find the one thing you must do.”
A few days ago, while cleaning out my files, I came across some notes from a talk Prof gave in 2002. The talk is called “Pitfalls in Ministry,” and is about leaders who fell morally. Prof was tired and burdened from walking with men and women who fell sexually. In his study of Christians who had fallen sexually, Prof identified four common characteristics.
4 Common Characteristics of Leaders Who Fall Morally
1. They experienced a breakdown in their personal walk with God.
When someone falls sexually, you are guaranteed to see a broken relationship with the Lord. While they might still attend church and even teach the Bible, true Bible study, prayer and sharing the faith are no longer found. Instead, you find an increase in cultural Christianity and a lack of dependence on Jesus.
John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
What are you doing every day to abide with Christ and to grow in your personal relationship with The Lord?
2. They had no accountability around them.
An accountability group will not guarantee success, and an absence of a group will not guarantee failure. However, you are an accident waiting to happen if you think you can move through life without an accountability or small group around you. Leaders who fall often have no authentic accountability to help them and often fail to submit to the authority above them.
Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
Proverbs 18:1 says, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”
Who is your community/accountability? Do you have leaders you willingly submit to?
3. They counseled someone of the opposite sex one-on-one.
Leaders who fall sexually often meet, counsel, travel, and eat alone with people of the opposite sex without any boundaries, wisdom, or accountability in place. Often the inappropriate relationship doesn’t start physical, but those who fall, always cross boundaries emotionally with someone of the opposite sex, which can lead to crossing physical boundaries as well.
Kristen and I are super conscious about this. We have some very strict boundaries in place in our relationships with people of the opposite sex. We work hard to protect our marriage from anything that could threaten our oneness. Check out my post on avoiding sexual temptation as well as this post on the Watermark marriage blog: 6 Ways You Can Strengthen Your Marriage.
1 Corinthians 10:12 says, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”
What kinds of boundaries do you currently have in place to protect you from being alone with someone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse?
4. They thought it could never happen to them.
No one who falls sexually and who loves Jesus ever plans their infidelity on the wedding day. In our vows, we promise to be faithful to one another for as long as we both shall live. We think it won’t happen to us, but the ones who fall sexually become prideful, lazy, and irresponsible.
Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Are you diligently working on your marriage? Are you pursuing and dating your spouse? What ways are you fighting against pride, laziness, and irresponsibility?
There’s Still Some Good News
If you’ve fallen sexually, the good news is God isn’t done with you. There is hope, grace, and forgiveness in Jesus (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 2:4-5). Check out a ministry like re|engage, where you can find hope and healing in your marriage.
Prof closed his pitfalls talk by sharing about the most important thing in your ministry: the trust factor. And by ‘ministry,’ I don’t just mean those of us who get a paycheck from a church or parachurch organization. The trust factor applies to every one of us. You are building (or tearing down) trust in marriage, in ministry, with your kids and friends, today. Do whatever you need to do to protect your relationship with Jesus and with your significant other from these four common pitfalls of those who fall sexually.