Pastors Living in the Fish Bowl

Pastors Living in the Fish Bowl According to the Bible, Pastors are to be examples of Jesus Christ for the rest of the brethren. I look at problems with this.

To begin with I am a missionary and a pastor. I left for the mission field in 1985. So I am looking at this in the more intensive situation of being a missionary and having to keep our affairs updated with our supporters.

The High Standard of Being an Example

First, let me say that every Christian should keep their lives clean before the Lord and before the world and their brethren. This requirement is not just for Pastors and Missionaries, but for everybody. Maybe the little old lady on the front row of your church that is 90+ years old is not so much in this position, but really everybody should be an example of Christ and of God.

This is a requirement for the ministry. If you do not have your life exemplary, your probably should not formally be in ministry. Without reproach in 1 Timothy 3 is the issue here. To grasp what the Bible is talking about, God sets forth the norms and standards that every Christian should abide by. Many will claim that this is impossible to do. It is hard, and there is no doubt about that point. But it is possible.

God posits or gives to each church men of God (and women of God) that fulfill as best as is possible these requirements. Not everybody messes up their spiritual life beyond repair. Some keep their lives and these should be held up and lauded for doing so. So God appoints Pastors, Deacons, and Elders in churches. These people live the Christian life. They are not sinless, nor are they perfect, but they are mature conservative Christians. This is like God saying, “Look here, there are some people who are keeping their lives so it can be done. Take heart and do like these people are doing.”

The Real Problem of Being an Example

The real problem of being an example is the sacrifice this costs you. When people are looking up to you as their example, slips in your testimony are very damaging. You need to “take a lot of abuse” in order to be cordial and civil in the face people who are neither. You need to maintain composure in the face of people being abusive. We do not respond to furious and inconsiderate people by doing the same. We imitate Jesus Christ. We hold firm and fast to the principles of God, and breaking with Jesus on this point, we ask forgiveness when we have personally failed Christ. Jesus never failed in the image of God. We do. We have to contend and deal with that.

The Problem of Our Families

As a pastor and a missionary, I chose those ministries. Actually I chose to be a missionary and through a lot of God’s dealing in my own heart, I ended up pastoring also. I can say that my wife, when she chose to marry me, already a pastor, she decided voluntarily of her own will to enter into this. You get what you wish for sometimes, and you need to own up to that or get out of the ministry.

But my kids were not born when I began my ministry, and they at no time chose to be kids of a missionary. That is where I contemplated this present post. As they grew up and got out on their own, they didn’t like a bunch of churches knowing their affairs. Not that they were doing anything wrong, just studying in college, but the people that crossed their paths occasionally knew all kinds of things about them and my children didn’t know who these people are. That is what I think offended them. The more personal the items about them, the more grievous the offense of dad who puts all kinds of stuff in a prayer letter. It is hard to have a family, and you need to write something every month about your affairs, and family stuff is all off limits.


I don’t know that I can offer much in the way of solutions here, but we need to keep the focus on Christ and not get catch up in our own lives.

Thought: If a man of God is suppose to be humble like Christ, then exactly is a missionary supposed to set aside this humility in order to promote himself and his ministry?

Pastors Living in the Fish Bowl

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Pastor David Cox is a missionary. See my ministry updates here.