The longer I have been in the ministry, the more convinced I am that there’s a particular question every preacher should annually ask himself: If you were the devil, how would you get you off track?
The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Those descriptive words paint a picture of a being who is deceptive, tricky, and one who gives careful thought of how he might “devour” the person he wishes to destroy. By thinking of what he might use against you, you can prepare yourself accordingly.
In traveling as an evangelist, and working with many preachers in the course of the year, I’ve seen the devices Satan uses.
Satan convinces the preacher he is not only a preacher; he is the greatest preacher. The preacher then relies on his own strength and not the Lord’s. He also develops a very unteachable spirit. After all, how can you improve upon perfection? It soon comes to a point that when he preaches, people only see the preacher; they don’t see Christ. Proverbs 16:18 warns us, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” It’s only a matter of time before he loses his walk with the Lord, and the ministry suffers.
Satan introduces a relationship that could then result in adultery. The damage is far beyond the ministry he is forced to leave. It’s also seen in the destruction within the family through divorce. The people who so deeply respected the preacher ask the question, “How could he?” Even though he can experience the joy and forgiveness of the Lord, his family, and many others, his ministry will always have that stain upon it. Many years later, people would question, “Could anything be happening that we don’t know about?”
Love of Money
This is especially true if the preacher has had to struggle to make ends meet. This particular temptation could lead to theft or embezzlement through any number of ways. It could also manifest itself through lies and deception with people to whom the preacher has to report.
In fact, sometimes Satan uses discouragement when nothing else seems to work. A preacher sometimes goes through a period when he sees little fruit from his ministry. He begins to question his calling and his gift. He compares himself with others whose ministries seem so much more fruitful and productive. There is nothing wrong with evaluating one’s performance and ministry in a proper way, but discouragement can cause a preacher to evaluate his ministry in a way that is not biblical.
I assure you, Satan is alive and well. That’s why I ask myself the question every year and encourage other preachers to ask, “If you were the devil, how would you get you off track?” Whatever you conclude, prepare yourself for his attack knowing victory is yours: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).