Sex, Money … Pride? Why Pastors Are Stepping Down

What’s causing some well-known leaders like C. J. Mahaney (and John Piper before him) to step aside is not what you might think. Christianity Today Web exclusive published July 14.

No sexual misconduct. No financial impropriety. No problem, right?

Not so fast.

For the second time in the last year and a half, a prominent evangelical leader has taken a highly publicized leave of absence while confessing to the sin of pride and character flaws.

C. J. Mahaney, president of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), a national network of nearly 100 church plants, cited “various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment and hypocrisy” in a July 6 statement explaining his indefinite leave.

In March 2010, Bethlehem Baptist Church pastor John Piper embarked on an eight-month leave, saying his soul, marriage, family, and ministry pattern needed “a reality check from the Holy Spirit.”

“My sense is that many of the celebrity religious leaders are well aware of and intentionally attempt to guard themselves against sexual and financial temptations,” said Scott Thumma, a Hartford Seminary sociologist who studies megachurches. “But they forget that pride comes before a fall.”

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