On July 6, Pastor C. J. Mahaney. President of Sovereign Grace Ministries, a network of some 95 churches in the US wrote on his blog that he was proceeding on a leave of absence. This, he said, was in response to some charges made against him by “some former pastors and leaders in Sovereign Grace”.
Interestingly enough, the charges “are not related to any immorality or financial impropriety,” but Mahaney considers them serious enough to warrant his vacating office for a while. They “include various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment, and hypocrisy.” Mahaney said he has, by the grace of God, been able to perceive a degree of his culpability in the charges; and even for those charges he disagrees with, he still sees them as an opportunity for soul-searching. Declaring that the most important issue for him is to please God, he expressed his readiness to “take responsibility for my sin and every way my leadership has been deficient, and this would include making any appropriate confessions, public or private.” (http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/blogs/cj-mahaney/post/2011/07/06/Why-Im-taking-a-leave-of-absence.aspx) This is truly refreshing and a powerful preaching of the Gospel to the myriads of preachers and pastors currently towing the slippery slopes of ministry.
This action calls to mind a similar action by another eminent Christian leader and famous preacher, John Piper, who took an 8-month break from Ministry last year, in order to reexamine his soul. Piper did not even have any body laying any charges against him. But he spoke of self-discovered “sins of my own soul,” “ongoing character flaws” and stresses that they have caused to others. Addressing his church, Piper said: “I see several species of pride…They may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry. Nevertheless, while I don’t think they do, I grieve over them.” His leave, the first in almost forty years of ministry, he explained, “ means no preaching, no book writing, no blogging, no tweeting, no articles, no papers and no speaking engagements” http://pjmiller.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/john-piper-taking-leave-of-absence-to-reexamine-his-soul/
In his own case, Mahaney hopes the leave of absence would afford him opportunity to solemnly consider the charges, examine his heart, and pursue reconciliation with the people making the charges. He has also stepped off the board of SGM and further relinquished the office of President during the period of examination and evaluation – so as to not be able to influence the process in any way.
In reporting the story on Mahaney, Mark Galli (himself a pastor) lamented that pastors in America who somehow manage to scale the all-pervasive hurdles of gross sins, (such as sexual immorality and financial misconduct), still have to also contend with the more subtle ones that, as it were, spontaneously arise in the very system they serve. Writing matter-of-factly, he declared: “we have a system in which pride and hypocrisy are inevitable.”
Asserting that “pastors all over America commit week in and week out” the same sins Piper and Mahaney are responding to, he opined that “the state of the modern American pastorate has been shaped so that these sins—especially pride and hypocrisy—are impossible to escape.” Will the Church in America (and the copy cat countries) be able to change her perspectives of Church and ministry? The situation sounds like the fulfillment of the prophesy in 2 Timothy 3:1- 7 for the end times. Galli concluded by urging: “our pastors need not our condemnation, but our prayers “ http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/julyweb-only/mostriskyprofession.html