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Question 131

Q: Can a calling that the Lord has for a person be rescinded if they become ensnared in a sin like sexual immorality?

I’ve carried the guilt of my sexual impurity for a long time, and I wonder if I can ever minister again.

Asked by: Joshua

A: Well you know, this is an excellent question and it’s being asked by many pastors and Christian leaders.

And I might say the evangelical community is divided as to how we should answer that question. On the one hand, there are those who would say absolutely not. You get one chance at this and if your credibility is ruined, that’s it, and you can no longer minister. Others say we should be more redemptive than that.

But considering your question again, as I look at it more carefully, you are asking whether or not your call is rescinded. Well, your call is something that God gave you, your call to the ministry. You were gifted; you were probably trained. The ministry was really the gift that God gave you. And now you’ve committed immorality, or at least at some point in your life you have since your call was exercised. And I would say that the calling may still be there, but that doesn’t mean that you can exercise it.

There are plenty of men and women who have been called by God into ministry. The call was strong, it was persistent, it was proven by their abilities. But now they’ve disqualified themselves, and it may well be that you’re among them. So called or not, the fact is that immorality disqualifies us to go back into the ministry.

And now I want to add something different to my answer. It is possible that God may bring you back into ministry. I think that if a person commits immorality, they should be out of the ministry for years to come. There has to be a real proving of their character. But within time, if they are under accountability, it may well be that they can minister again. Probably not the way in which they did before, but it’s possible that God may bring you back into the ministry.

But here’s my word, from my heart to yours: don’t push it. Don’t be anxious to get back. You need to let God do this as you humbly and patiently wait before Him, because credibility is the heart of Christian ministry. When we’ve lost it, it is very, very, very difficult to get it back. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world for you, God has something for you to do, it might not be ministry, but God keeps working in us, using us, and blessing us, even after serious sin.

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