Why a Leader’s Private Sin Matters

Here’s why even our private stuff matters as church leaders.

Why a Leader's Private Sin Matters

By definition, “private” sin is that which nobody else knows about. The point of this post is, though, to show that even our private stuff matters as church leaders. Here’s why:

  1. It hinders our prayer life. Where there is unconfessed and ongoing sin, prayer becomes ineffective (Isa. 59:1-2). That means we’re not good intercessors for our congregation.
  2. It often results in secrets between spouses. “Private” sometimes means that which even our spouse doesn’t know about—so that a relationship to be built on trust and honesty can’t be as strong as it should be. The witness of marriage is then weakened.
  3. It distracts us from doing evangelism. Seldom do we talk about the Good News when we’re living in disobedience. Even if we try, we have little passion behind it.
  4. It eats at our soul. I don’t know any other way to describe what happens when conviction and shame silently wear us out. Eventually, that weariness will become evident to others.
  5. It provides a foothold toward a stronghold. Private sins that dominate our lives didn’t usually begin as ongoing, seemingly addictive problems. They began with a first choice to give in and then cover them up. Followed by a second choice. And a third…
  6. It doesn’t always stay private. Sometimes we get caught. At other times, we let our guard down and no longer stay in the hiddenness. Either way, it harms our testimony and hinders the work of the gospel.
  7. It robs us of the witness of our joy. You probably know believers whose lives just sing with the joy of God—and the world takes note. We don’t have that joy when our private world is messed up.
  8. It increases our isolation. Church leadership is often lonely anyway, and it only gets worse when we’re hiding. Isolation invites even more attack and defeat.
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Take some time today, and pray for each of your church leaders.

This article originally appeared here.

Chuck Lawless
Chuck Lawless is professor and senior associate dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as a pastor for almost twenty years, and is the author of Spiritual Warfare: Biblical Truth for Victory, Discipled Warriors: Healthy Churches Winning Spiritual Warfare, Making Disciples through Mentoring, Serving in Your Church's Prayer Ministry, and Eating the Elephant. Dr. Lawless speaks extensively around the countryYou can read articles from Dr. Chuck Lawless on his personal blog (ChuckLawless.com) ( or connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook. .
  • MADIKS

    This is helping stuff that i think should be foundational teaching of every christian so that a trustworthy character is built even for future leaders.The question now is how do you handle “private sins” that are in public domain ?

  • Alex

    This is insightful and convicting. How then should you advise ministry leaders living in disobedience privately? Should you advise them to step down and deal with their own sins or habitual sins? Or should you encourage them to deal with it while staying in a ministry leadership role?

  • Alex

    This is insightful and convicting. How then should you advise ministry leaders living in disobedience privately? Should you advise them to step down and deal with their own sins or habitual sins? Or should you encourage them to deal with it while staying in a ministry leadership role? Thanks!