Preachers Can Have Rebel Hearts Too January 24, 2020


Long before I was a preacher I was a sinner. We would like to think that this changes over time, but I am still a sinner! One of God’s great preachers said it best: “O wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:24).

For sure, we should be sinning less but we are not sinless. Only Christ is that. Sometimes in the busyness of ministry, surrounded by so much religious context, we are prone to forget how wicked our hearts truly are. The flesh never gets better. It cannot be trusted.

Deep within the most holy man is the unholy current of sin. There is in ALL of us a rebel heart. Sometimes it even comes out clothed in “preacher talk” but religious flesh is still flesh, and it doesn’t please God.

Paul referenced some ministers who “seek their own” instead of the things that are Christ’s (Philippians 2:21). This is just an expression of selfishness and it must be guarded in all of our lives and ministries.

Rebellion can even come out in our attitude toward those who have ministered to us and mentored us. The psalmist makes it plain that a man can grow in his knowledge of God beyond merely the instruction of his teachers: “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts” (Psalm 119:99-100).

However, when a man “grows” to the point that he begins to belittle his teachers it is an expression of a proud heart – and no one is a good teacher who loses their own student heart! As you are building up your faith never forget those who helped lay the foundation. You cannot build while you are tearing down.

All through Scripture we see men’s strengths becoming their weaknesses. Moses’ meekness becomes unrighteous anger. David’s passionate heart becomes unholy passion. Elijah’s strength becomes weariness.

Oswald Chambers wrote that “an unguarded strength is a double weakness.” Every gift left unchecked, unyielded, becomes a liability. Nimrod the mighty hunter becomes Babel, the place of confusion and chaos (Genesis 10:8-11). Every good thing can become a bad thing if it is not ruled by God Himself. Guard your heart, especially if the Lord is blessing. Sometimes the greatest battles and defeats come in the midst of great victories.

Hudson Taylor wrote to his sister after many years on the mission field, “I never knew how bad a heart I had.” That is the truth for all of us. Rebellion is still as the sin of witchcraft…even if it is found in religious men.

My first ministry must always be to keep my own rebel heart submitted to Christ.

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  1. Nicholas Holmstedt on January 27, 2020 at 12:03 PM

    Hey Brother Pauley,

    When I read this, a curiosity crossed my mind. So, here is my curiosity in the form of a question: What are church members to do if their Pastor has a rebel heart and is not willing to change?

    Any thoughts on that?

    • Scott Pauley on January 29, 2020 at 4:02 PM

      I believe the greatest thing any church member can do is pray. Intercession can do more than our intervention. If there is a doctrinal or moral issue I believe we are to go them personally to address our concern.

      • Nicholas Holmstedt on February 5, 2020 at 10:51 AM

        Thank you for the reply. I especially appreciate the reality that “intercession can do more than our intervention.”

  2. Chris Blythe on February 3, 2020 at 8:13 AM

    Do you believe God still uses the pastor that has allowed this rebellion to happen?

    • Scott Pauley on February 4, 2020 at 9:54 PM

      I don’t presume to speak for God about who He chooses to use. He used Pharaoh and a host of other sinners! He even uses me and I am certain there have been many days my heart was not what it should have been. My point is simply that we all have to take inventory of ourselves – not of others. “Every man must give account of himself to God…”

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