One of the helpful sections of Paul David’s Tripp’s book Dangerous Calling was his insightful list of signs that a Pastor is losing his or her way. Here it is:
1. You ignore clear evidence of problems and are defensive.
2. You become blind to the issues of your own heart.
3. Your ministry lacks personal devotion and private confession.
4. You are not preaching the gospel to yourself.
5. You stop listening to the people closest to you.
6. The acts of ministry become burdensome.
7. You begin to live in silence due to fear of becoming known.
8. You begin to question your calling.
9. You start looking for a way out.
I think people are surprised when pastors have emotional meltdowns, morally fail or just plain quit. Tripp’s point is well taken. Pastors never just lose it, or sin, or quit suddenly. Something began to erode privately long before the issue(s) became public. Before a pastor loses their ministry they first lose themselves. It’s not like falling off a ladder where one slight misstep leads to sudden catastrophe. It’s more like drifting. No one ever drifts all at once. Its a slow and subtle process. Neither does one drift closer. One always drifts away.