The Seven Deadly Sins of Ministry Podcast Series Part 7: Seeking Superficial Pleasures or Possessions Over Being Fulfilled and Satisfied in the Savior

Today is the last blog post based on my podcast series, The Seven Deadly Sins of Ministry. I started this series out of a heart to help put people in the best possible position to be successful and faithful in ministry, and the fact that I have become convinced that there are a handful of deadly sins that, if left unchecked, can bankrupt, derail, and disqualify a person from leading. We have walked through these sins, not with a spirit of criticism, but with a desire to think about our own lives soberly, as Scripture calls us to, and to equip us better to guard our hearts and help others around us.

To address this seventh sin, I invited Dr. Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and host of the podcast The Briefing, for a conversation about the sin of seeking superficial pleasures or possessions over being fulfilled and satisfied in the Savior.

First, let’s define this sin:

SEEKING the SUPERFICIAL: Finding temporary joy in temporary experiences and/or worldly things more than we find our joy and pleasure in Christ.

What follows from our conversation is a broad stroke that addresses this sin and all of the ones we have already covered. Dr. Mohler is a gift to the evangelical world as he challenges us to think biblically about the issues we face in today’s world, and I am so grateful for the wisdom he had to share with us.

The Truth About All Sin

If we look at the history of the Christian church, Dr. Mohler shared that we will see that there is truly nothing new under the sun. The warnings filling Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus are evidence of the many pitfalls in ministry - sexual sin, anger, pride, etc. No matter where we are in our different stages of ministry, no matter what our differing areas of temptation, we have to remember that sin is
always crouching at the door, just as Scripture tells us. It is a constant reality every pastor and leader must stay aware of.

How Do We Guard Our Hearts?

If I were to boil our discussion down to just three key takeaways to help us safeguard our hearts and ministries, it would be these: 

1 - Maintain Your Intimacy with the Lord

We all know that grave acts of sin don’t happen overnight. There is a slow fade of compromise, which first and foremost happens in our intimacy with the Lord. This growing area of neglect leads to spiritual coldness, which then allows issues such as lust, pride, or greed to manifest. This is why it is vital to maintain our intimacy with Him.

Something Dr. Mohler shared that he loves is the Puritan concept that the heart is going to be full of something. The question then becomes what our hearts are full of. Are we savoring our Savior - the person and work of Christ, the glory of the gospel?

It is important to note that maintaining intimacy with the Lord is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. As a teenager, Dr. Mohler heard people speak in very emotional terms about intimacy. Because he has never been a highly emotional person, he worried he was lacking something. J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God, helped him by making it clear that emotionalism without content is theologically dangerous and can lead to confusion and false teachings. Packer’s writings showed him that savoring a psalm is intimacy with God. Singing a hymn robustly to the glory of God is intimacy with God. Walking in the work God has called us to do, confident in who God is and what He has done for us through the atoning work of His Son, brings us into deeper intimacy with Him.

Whether you skew stoic, emotional, or somewhere in between, we each have permission to approach our Christianity in the way God has designed us. What is vital is that we all stay committed to a Christianity based on revealed truth. We fill our lives with Scripture and align our lives with it.

2 - Maintain Your Priorities at Church and Home

One of the greatest dangers Dr. Mohler has observed over his decades of ministry experience is the issue of pastors and leaders having a private life separate from ministry, marriage, children, and accountability. For some, this might look like having a home in a city where you don't live or having somewhere you go and spend a lot of time alone. Pulling away like this from your priorities is a bad sign. Busy pastors, Mohler stated, are safer than pastors who aren't so busy. Not busy as in meaningless busywork, but diligent in the work of the Lord.

 Something I have often said is that safeguarding our lives is about chasing. If I chase the Lord, chase my spouse, chase the hearts of my children, chase the souls of those I lead, and chase the lost, I don't have time to chase anything beyond what God would ordain as good for my life.

3 - Maintain Your Accountability with Others

The truth is, we are all going to face temptation. We will all have areas where we struggle. For the pastor who has not fallen or been unfaithful in any way but is currently struggling and feels vulnerable, Dr. Mohler offers this wisdom: Find a trustworthy, gospel friend as fast as you can. Look him in the eye and say, "I am in trouble here." Then go and do something together. Change the scenery. Do whatever it takes. 

We need people in our lives we can make a pact with that if we ever look like we're in trouble, they will come and invite us to do something together. Something like getting out in a boat to fish that puts you in a position to say, "Let's talk." 

If we're struggling internally, we need someone to help us address it. The tripwire for ministry disaster is internal before it becomes external.

For more wisdom from Dr. Mohler, be sure to listen to 7 Deadly Sins of Ministry Episode 7: Seeking Superficial Pleasures or Possessions Over Being Fulfilled and Satisfied in the Savior here. You will also find all of the other episodes if there are any that you missed.

Let's stay faithful in ministry. Let's finish strong. Let's walk worthy of the Lord.  


  1. Where might this sin specifically show itself in your life?
  2. What precedes your struggle with this? In other words, what time, season, situation, or stress point usually triggers this in your life?
  3. Who could be best suited to watch your back on this?
  4. When you have experienced victory in this area, what helped you the most?