Friday, December 4, 2009

Enemy Occupied Territory

What a weird 7 days. Walking from the joys of Thanksgiving on Thursday to the funeral on Friday of a precious godly lady who lived her 81 years with love and honor, then learning of someone else's need for emergency brain surgery. Seeing these who want to live and learning of another who took his own life in another part of the state. Watching Tiger Woods' poor choices revealed and imagining the grief and self-doubt experienced by his beautiful wife. Reading these statistics from Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey church:
  • 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
  • 50% of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
  • 80% of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
  • 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first 5 years.
  • 70% percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • Almost 40% polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
  • 70% said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.
  • 80% of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
  • 80% of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
  • The majority of pastor's wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.
Put all these together and the collision of them confirms 1 Peter 5:8 that I must stay alert. (Watching) out for (my) great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity describes it as living in "enemy-occupied territory."

But, rather than dwelling on these attacks, I must return to last Thursday, when I was thankful for so much about my life. I'm thankful to be the wife of a godly man who was committed to purity before I met him and is committed to it now. I'm thankful for examples of faithfulness (that 81-year-old lady was married 57 years to her life's love), who prove it is possible to live in victory over our enemy. I'm thankful to be in ministry with people who love and affirm the calling of God on my life, not only as a minister's wife and Bible study writer but as a person. I'm thankful that the worst health issues I have are a propensity toward sinus infections and a gimpy knee every now and then.

But I will stay alert, too. Not become comfortable and complacent in my thanksgiving. It doesn't mean I have to live as though the devil is lurking behind every tree, but it does mean I live with the understanding and expectation that in this world, (I) will have trouble (John 16:33). All the while remembering that Jesus has warned us of this so we might have peace, knowing with assurance he has overcome [defeated, overpowered, subjugated, mastered, conquered, vanquished] the world (John 16:32-33). We may be living in enemy-occupied territory, but it still belongs to the Creator. Alleluia.


ded said...

Those statistics clearly are an alarm bell, but I don't think the blame can be placed singly at the feet of the enemy. How about identifying nearly 2000 years of traditions, first developed then entrenched by human choices against the wisdom of God revealed in Scripture. Specifically, as an example of many, the words head pastor, senior pastor, etc. do not appear in the NT. Yet, the office of one person in charge remains a mainstay of traditional approaches to governance.

We need look no further than our own foolishness for the damage being wrought in the lives of leaders and their vulnerable families.

Comment respectfully offered with no intended slight to either your place as the spouse of a leader or to that same leader. People understandably accept tradition, yet it deserves great scrutiny under a critical thinking lens.

LaVon Baker said...


At the age of 56, I married a preacher whose wife had gone home to Heaven. It is now almost four years later and these have been the best and happiest years of my life. We now serve as chaplains in an RV resort. Don pastors the church and we both lead weekly Bible studies, plus the normal things that pastors do. At a retirment resort, a lot of folks wind up in the hospital at some time during their winter stay in the south.
Anyway, I am commenting because even though I am fulfilled and happy, I can understand the statistics and it is a good reminder to keep my eyes on Jesus. The battle is His. I'm just a vessel and I pray I remain as such.
I enjoy your writings.