Each year it seems that another famous pastor steps down due to moral failure. As I’ve read about these falls, I’ve often wondered if there are threads common to these falls. Several years ago H. B. London interviewed Archibald Hart, author and Dean Emeritus at Fuller seminary, on this subject. He suggested four steps that lead to moral failure in a pastor’s life.
In their interview they discuss how depression from pastoral burnout can lead to loss of vision, loss of ideals, an “I don’t care attitude,” and potentially result in moral compromise.
Dr. Hart then describes this progression of steps that leads to moral failure using what he calls the four A’s.
- Arrogance: I can do no wrong, I can handle life myself, I don’t need anyone.
- Adventurous addiction: I get taken with excitement and become energized with what I am doing.
- Aloneness: I become more at risk as I cut myself off from others.
- Adultery: I turn to sex as the only thing that gives me a kick that can make up for what I feel I have lost.
Listening to these four A’s caused me to pause to make sure I don’t go down that path. Often pastors and other spiritual leaders slowly move down this path without realizing it.
What would you add to this list of warnings signs of moral failure?