The Unforgivable Sin In Pastoral Ministry

sinking shipAs we all recognize, there are different ways to lie . . . . .

√  To make a statement which is factually not true — It does not comport with reality. We do not need many or any examples of that in these final weeks of an election.

√  To misrepresent the details and facts — Technically, it may be true, but it is represented in an inaccurate way. He made that comment, but what was said before or after was purposefully left out because it would fail to support what we are claiming was said. A half-truth is a misrepresentation, though not a factually untrue statement.

√  To purposefully distort the details and facts — The details and facts of a situation, conversation, or event did happen, but not as stated. It has the sound of truth because many details are included, but not as constructed or stated.[1] Some of the details may even have been omitted — “What they did not tell you was . . . . “

√  To make nuanced statements —  One uses a particular word or phrase, which deceptively makes it true. The purpose and hope of using that word or phrase is to give an impression that is not true. The statement is said in such a way as to imply what is not true. [2]

√  To make a promise, and then not fulfill that promise — Every parent has felt that responsibility. “Dad, you said you were going to take me to . . . on Friday.” [3]

√  To deceive, misdirect, obfuscate — There are ways to deceive, while not outright lying. “Did you break that vase?” Response: “What vase? Was a vase broken?” No one said that they did not break the vase, but they mislead. To distract, muddy the waters, or divert attention to something other than what is at issue is to deceive.

Whether it be a blatant misstatement of the facts, distortion, a nuanced statement, misrepresentation, omission of details, obfuscation, diversion, misleading, deceiving, or a broken promise, etc . . . .  all are included in the meaning of the ninth commandment which is typically stated as — “Thou Shalt Not Lie.”  We are called upon to be “truth-tellers” (Ephesians 4:25 and many other passages!).

♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦

All Things Church:  One of the most serious deeds that a ministry, local church, or pastor can be found guilty of is dishonesty!  When confidence in what is being done or said is lost, so is the effectiveness and future of that ministry or leader!

Lying By Leaders:

To purposefully cover-up information which if “the church” were aware, they would demand serious action be taken.

To suppress information from the congregation which is their right to know and would help them make informed decisions.

To make nuanced statements which may be “true” technically, but mislead the listeners to believe other than the truth of a situation.

To shield, shroud, blurr, or cloak financial information from the governing board or congregation.

To twist the Scriptures in a way that it supports or argues for what the Lord never intended it to say.

To argue for the need of appropriate caution and privacy in revealing the details of a matter, when the reality is an attempt to conceal one’s own wrong-doing in the handling a matter.

To create the feeling that all was, or is being done, honestly, above board, and/or transparently.

To play down the seriousness of wrong-doing by euphemisms or less than accurate terminology.

To give the impression that the ministry leadership knows and/or supports a decision or action, while knowing that they are seriously divided about it.

To fabricate a Matthew 18 case in order to silence criticism, disagreement, or controversy, or in order to dismiss a legitimate (or illegitimate) critic.

To assure or influence a board or congregation by misdirection or distraction concerning the real issues at hand.

To engage in “ministerial exaggeration” or “fudge on numbers”, in order to give an impression or to make an impression.

To actually plagiarize sermonic material. [4]


Ministry leaders and pastors, you cannot make a mistake on the issue of honesty!  Your entire ministry and influence depends on being a truth-teller!

Everything in the conduct and effectiveness of your ministry depends on your honesty.


God’s people (and the lost world) can handle listening to a mediocre sermon. 

“The church” will accept uninspiring or poor leadership.

But what God’s people (and the watching world) will not and should not tolerate
is a lack of honesty!

Lying is almost unforgivable by a pastor!




It Will Sink You!

sinking ship

1. Many bills that go through congress are a cabal of different lesser bills included to garner support for the main bill. When you vote for or against the main bill, it could be said that you voted for or against this-or-that (the lesser bills), only because you voted for or against the main bill. “Yes, I did vote for the discontinuation of benefits to the “arts” because I voted for the $1,200 stipend for all Americans

2. Uh-Oh — but here goes — “I am not banning fracking.” “Not ban” implies that fracking on public and private lands will not be banned. If it is then banned on public lands, and only allowed on private lands, the statement is true, but only true because the statement was nuanced.

3. Another Example: If an individual states that your conversation is “off-the-record” and then shares that conversation with others, that individual has lied to you. He broke a promise and lied to you!

4. I say “actually plagiarize because there are many words, ideas, statements which have and do float around the Christian community whose source is unknown, and are quoted by speakers and preachers.   For instance — The laws of sowing and reaping.  Many books and commentaries are used in sermon preparation which provide ideas, thoughts, and statements which help in creating a sermon.  However, taking a sermon “carte blanche” or anything close to that is lying; it is plagiarism and unethical!

i.e.  — Recently, Vice President Pence stated . . .  “You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.” (originally by President Ronald Regan), and was accused of plagarism.  VP Pence was not implying that those were his words.  Rather, most were well aware of those quip.

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