Help Others Restore Integrity
Help Others Restore Integrity 7 minute read

Pastors and Porn – Question #4: "But who can I ask to hold me accountable?"

Last Updated: April 10, 2015

I’ll never forget one day after I presented a workshop on pornography and sexual addiction, when a youth pastor approached me to tell a most sad story. He explained how he had recently moved across the country to take a position at a church. He was in the office early on his first day and was attempting to set up his computer, but was having Internet connectivity problems. As he tried to find someone who might be able to help, he walked into the sanctuary.

There was a large stained glass window behind him, a huge cross in front of him, and a video screen right beside the cross. He stood in amazement as on the large video screen, a pornographic video was being played. As he looked up to the control booth, he saw his new senior pastor huddled up and watching the video. Out of sheer disbelief and anger, the young pastor screamed “What are you doing?” and quickly walked back towards his office.

The senior pastor gathered himself, stormed past the young man, went into his office and slammed the door. In a later discussion with his senior pastor, it became apparent, that a very proud and defiant stance was going to be the approach against this youth pastor’s discovery. Ultimately, this event cost the senior pastor everything. However, what was even more revealing was his attempt to blame the youth pastor for his demise and not to accept any responsibility for his actions.

“I’m The Man” Mentality

This is not an uncommon story—not necessarily the events that took place that day, but the lofty attitude of the senior pastor. Being a pastor myself, I understand how everyone looks to us for spiritual guidance, and we become the spiritual authority in many people’s lives. But if we’re not careful, this authority mentality can carry over into everything. You see, when you are never challenged, when you are always the one giving the answers, casting vision and bringing perspective, it is easy to develop an “I’m the man” mentality. It is within this mindset that the idea of accountability is not at all embraced, and yet it is the very lack of accountability that propagates this attitude. The truth is that accountability cannot even be addressed when this attitude prevails. So please understand, if you don’t want accountability, or if you think you are above accountability, you will simply continue with the status quo.

Looking For the Way of Escape

So let’s begin with the obvious—personal accountability. When I mention this, I am referring to you taking the initiative to do everything in your power to prevent yourself from slipping up when temptation comes knocking at your door.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you except which is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able.” That’s good news but verse 13 continues: “…”but with the temptation he will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

Personal accountability involves looking for that way of escape before temptation comes, like removing any porn from your home or office immediately, keeping your office door open at all times, calling your accountability partner, and the biggest one of all—Internet protection.

Now you are probably thinking that because I am writing this post, the good folks at Covenant Eyes told me to mention their product, but that’s just not true. This is square one for any pastor who has trouble with Internet pornography, and if you are not willing to take this essential first step, you are not applying any personal accountability. Pastor, if you use a computer at work or home, Covenant Eyes is essential! Internet surfing accountability should be standard on ALL computers at ALL church offices and home offices. If you can’t access pornography, you won’t fall—it’s that simple. Each and every time you are prevented from viewing pornography, you prevent your mind from storing additional imagery that is harmful to you. You see, the solution to a pornography addiction, is to starve yourself from any additional porn. As you do this, the old images stored in your brain begin to diminish, and with no new ones to take their place, you begin down a path of freedom from the bondage that porn creates.

Who Should Hold You Accountable?

Now let’s get back to the subject at hand: “But who can I ask to hold me accountable?” This is something you should seriously pray about and ask God to give you guidance and discernment over.

(1) A great place to start is another church staff member, if you are blessed to have one. You are both in the same situation: living life in a fish bowl, serving the Lord in the capacity of ministry, and needing a sounding board and someone with whom you may be transparent.  There has to be one man in your life who you can be brutally honest with and allow the same from him.

I happen to have lunch weekly with another staff member at my church who has become my accountability partner. We talk about many things, and nothing is taboo. He knows my thoughts and I know his, and we help each other along the way. It has developed into an incredible friendship. I trust him with my life—which is what accountability breeds! You will find through accountability that a close friendship will develop and every man needs one good and close friend.

(2) Some pastors have long distance accountability partners. These are men in whom they trust and with whom they have a relationship, but they live in other states. If this is your method, you must make time each week to call this friend and share from your heart. Have a process you go through each and every time you talk.

Develop a series of questions you both have to answer, such as: Have you viewed anything inappropriate on the Internet, TV, video, or in print? Have you masturbated since we last spoke? Aside from sermon preparation, are you reading the Word of God for your own edification? Are you praying with your wife? Is there any one thing you are struggling with that I can pray with you about? These are some examples, but you can create your own.

(3) Consider teaming up with another pastor in your town. The next time you think this could never work, remember, he is in the same boat as you and also needs accountability. I am aware how competitive church building can be, and yet I know this is not an attitude that God embraces. We are all working on the same team, working towards the same goal—winning people to Christ. We have to move beyond that competitive nature within all of us, break down those walls, and be there for one another. I once spoke at a church in Mississippi and was so impressed when at the end of worship this pastor had his congregation pray for another church in their town. I later found out he did that every week and how refreshing it was to hear that.

I am confident that, at least from this pastor’s perspective, he wanted to have a relationship with the other pastors in his city, and he proved it through his actions. This has to be your mindset as well, and this is what will allow you to become friends with another pastor in your home town. As you develop a friendship, you will become more transparent with each other, and accountability will naturally develop. Who better to hold you accountable than a man who clearly understands everything you are dealing with? And there is absolutely nothing wrong with cutting to the chase, simply telling your fellow pastor you have found accountability essential in your Christian walk, and how you would be honored if he would consider teaming up with you.

Covenant Confidentiality

Ultimately, you and your accountability partner must establish a “covenant of confidentiality” about anything that is shared. You must also have an agreement: to be available for each other whenever needed. In other words, you must be ready and willing to call your partner or receive a call from him whenever either of you is struggling. You both have to take accountability seriously enough to drop whatever you are doing to help your friend in need. Ultimately, honesty must be a cornerstone of this relationship. Transparency is essential, because accountability without transparency is a waste of time.

A statement I hear often is, “There is no one (NOT ANY) pastor I can go to for accountability,” and I must tell you how arrogant of a statement that is. Yes, I know that your personal struggles getting into the wrong hands can create trouble for you, but let’s get real here. If you have prayed about this before-hand and asked for God’s direction, if you are meeting with another staff pastor, if you are utilizing an old friend who lives in another state, or if you have partnered up with a fellow pastor in your town, do you really believe they will share your private information when they have shared theirs with you? There comes a point where you have to truly trust God in ways you have been teaching your flock—completely. I believe with all of my heart: when God sees you attempting to do something about your struggles, He honors that effort by directing you to the right person, and by protecting you!

Ultimately, whomever you choose to help you in your struggle, he must exhibit a strong walk with Jesus Christ. He can’t be intimidated by your position and must not be afraid to call you out. I also believe with all my heart that the two of you must have other interaction besides just accountability for your sexual struggles. You must take time to be friends and simply develop that bond which is required for true accountability, because true accountability develops through a relationship where true love for one another exists. I am reminded of David and Jonathan in the Bible and the bond they developed. It is a real life example of that one special relationship God desired for every man.

Secrecy is the Problem

But more importantly than all of this, is that you first allow yourself to be held accountable. You see, Men of God, if you are struggling with pornography or sexual sin of any kind, the first step is to confess it. As my book The Secret in the Pew explains, it is the secrecy of this problem that will continue to keep you bound by it. Once you decide to come clean, not just with God but to a fellow believer in Christ, your path away from this predictable problem begins. There is something liberating about openly sharing your struggle with another. Immediately, chains are broken and you can for the first time start down a path of freedom. Just like you have habitually created this problem, you methodically break away from it, and this is where accountability becomes huge.

As I minister to men who are caught deep in the grips of porn and sexual addiction, I am reminded of the many men who hold positions of prominence in churches all over who likewise struggle with this: worship leaders, board members, associate pastors, and yes, senior pastors, all who teach, preach and represent a new life in Christ Jesus. How can we possibly do this if we are caught up in something so detrimental to what this new life is all about?

I beg of you this day (as you read this), take the first step by admitting your struggle. Then allow yourself to be held accountable by another. It will make all the difference in your walk with Christ, your relationship with your wife and family, and, ultimately, your ministry.

. . . .

This is a guest post by Pastor David Blythe of Phoenix First Assembly, author of The Secret in the Pew, a book about his devastating sexual addiction and his journey of freedom. You can hear our interview with him on Covenant Eyes Radio.

  1. Mendy Kilpin

    BRILLIANT!!!! Words are “inadequate” to express how this is the MOST NEEDED Ministry of our time…

    May the LORD open wide global doors for this “Message” to be heard, read and proclaimed throughout the world…

    Thanks be to GOD who always leads us in triumphant VICTORY in CHRIST JESUS!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related in Help Others Restore Integrity

Editor's Picks

A woman looking for resources in the library.

Help Others Restore Integrity

The Best Porn Addiction Resources in 2024

When you tackle a problem as serious as porn addiction, you want…

7 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Image of Pastor Matt Chandler.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Matt Chandler on Accountability and Stepping Away From Ministry

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently sat down with Matt Chandler, pastor…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A nativity scene.

Help Others Restore Integrity

5 Holiday Messages for Your Parish Bulletin

We all have our holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree, making…

6 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

An empty church sanctuary.

Help Others Restore Integrity

How Porn Affects Church Attendance

As time goes on, it seems like more and more Christians are…

6 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Covenant Eyes podcast team in studio with Allen Parr.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Unmasking Spiritual Deception: A Conversation With Pastor Allen Parr

In a world filled with spiritual complexities and theological debates, finding the…

3 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Black and white photo of an empty podium.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Porn’s Devastating Impact on Christian Leadership

In 2021, Barna found that 38% of pastors had thought about quitting…

4 minute read

Read Post

Related in Help Others Restore Integrity

A woman looking for resources in the library.

Help Others Restore Integrity

The Best Porn Addiction Resources in 2024

When you tackle a problem as serious as porn addiction, you want…

When you tackle a problem as serious as porn addiction, you want to make sure you have the best resources available. Thankfully, it’s no longer difficult to find plenty of offline and online help. Still,…

7 minute read

0 comments

Image of Pastor Matt Chandler.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Matt Chandler on Accountability and Stepping Away From Ministry

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently sat down with Matt Chandler, pastor…

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently sat down with Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church and president of Acts 29. They talked with Pastor Matt about his recent leave of absence from ministry, what…

4 minute read

0 comments

A nativity scene.

Help Others Restore Integrity

5 Holiday Messages for Your Parish Bulletin

We all have our holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree, making…

We all have our holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree, making cookies, setting up our crèche scene, or hosting festive gatherings, our celebrating is a welcome time! But gift buying, family gatherings, and extra cooking…

6 minute read

0 comments

An empty church sanctuary.

Help Others Restore Integrity

How Porn Affects Church Attendance

As time goes on, it seems like more and more Christians are…

As time goes on, it seems like more and more Christians are watching porn. The average pew-sitter today is likely to have struggled with pornography at some point. And this struggle is also likely to…

6 minute read

0 comments

Covenant Eyes podcast team in studio with Allen Parr.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Unmasking Spiritual Deception: A Conversation With Pastor Allen Parr

In a world filled with spiritual complexities and theological debates, finding the…

In a world filled with spiritual complexities and theological debates, finding the true path to spiritual enlightenment can be daunting. Misleading doctrines and false teachings often lurk in the shadows, leading believers astray. To shed…

3 minute read

0 comments

Black and white photo of an empty podium.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Porn’s Devastating Impact on Christian Leadership

In 2021, Barna found that 38% of pastors had thought about quitting…

In 2021, Barna found that 38% of pastors had thought about quitting the ministry. Certainly, the difficulty of leading a church in the COVID era was a major factor in these results. The overall trends…

4 minute read

0 comments