One of the most challenging parts of being a preacher is the solitude. Many preacher’s work days include an abundance of time where they are alone whether it is studying in their office, making visits, or practicing their sermons. This isolation has many negative effects but the two that relate to porn addiction are:
1) They are more susceptible to temptation
2) They are less likely to reach out for help.
Why is this? If you ask anyone who is or has struggled with porn, the times that are the most difficult to fight the addiction are those times when you are alone. As I pointed out, preachers spend a lot of time alone and you might think that the amount of time they spend in scripture and studying with others would keep them from the temptation but you would be wrong. Let’s look at the stats:
51% of preachers said Internet pornography is a possible temptation.
37% of preachers said viewing pornography was a “current struggle.”
75% of preachers said they do not make themselves accountable to anyone for their Internet use.
Although these stats are nearly 17 years old, in my experience they are not too far from the truth. I get emails all the time from preachers who are currently struggling or who have in the past. This is of no surprise to me and it shouldn’t be to you. Preachers are people too but many times in our churches we hold them to impossible standards. So, when they do have something that they are struggling with they are very limited on who they can reach out to. Coupled with this, it seems that porn addiction is still very taboo and near unforgivable for paid church staff members.
So, who does the preacher have to reach out to?
Tell the elders and you could get fired.
Tell the congregation and they might run from you.
Talk to a counselor and people might find out.
As if the preacher’s job wasn’t hard enough, when it comes to seeking help with anything, let alone porn addiction, there are not a lot of options.
If you have read our other articles you know that we view intimacy as the most important factor to finding success in recovery but the preacher has very few options when it comes to practicing intimacy in their relationships. So for the church member, the leadership, and the preacher, here’s what I want you to know:
Church Member: As good as a speaker and man your preacher is, he is still human and is allowed to fail. Viewing him as Superman only makes it harder for him to be transparent and it could make whatever problem he has worse. Respect him yes, but don’t put expectations on him that you wouldn’t put on any other man.
Church leadership: If you haven’t asked your preacher what his struggles are then you should. As one of the flock that God has charged into your care, you are responsible for his soul as well. Assure him that his job is not on the line for whatever his struggles are and that above all you are wanting to help. However, as a leader you also need to keep your paid preacher accountable for his internet usage. Either know that he has an accountability program set up or he becomes accountable to you.
Preacher: First of all, I get you. I know the struggles of ministry and if you are struggling with porn, I understand. You probably feel terrible, hypocritical, and hopeless all at once. I’ve been there. You need to know that there is hope to break free from addiction and we are here to help. If you need someone to talk to or ask for help that’s kinda what we do here. In fact, I currently have an accountability group that meets via Skype that has a hand full of preachers that attend. Please reach out if you need help!
Like everyone, preachers struggle with various problems and they are not immune to porn addiction.
If you are a preacher who needs help let us know. If you would like more information about hosting an Overcome Porn Seminar at your church email us here.
Stats: Leadership Journal, “Leadership Survey.”