I was a typical guy having an affair.  I did not set out to be unfaithful–it just slowly happened.  Bit by bit. I have come to believe that most affairs are not blows, but slow leaks. But my wife was cool about it—said nothing; just tolerated it.  She was even nice to the other woman. 

My motivation?  I guess I was insecure and wanted to be liked and seen as attractive. I had to test what I had against the market–see what price I could get.  After all, I had to provide, didn’t I? 

And that’s the way it is with a pastor who is having an affair  . . .  with his church. He spends extra time on being ready to preach. He makes that one more call on a sick or elderly person that could influence his family’s future. He takes time away from his wife and children and gives it to the people of the church because he genuinely wants to serve them. He is willing to go to one more committee meeting because the children’s program needs a boost. 

Ah, yes, the subtle, insidious affair a pastor can have with the church he is serving.

The problem is that he is assuming on the spirituality of his wife. The rationale goes something like this: “She is a mature Christian, so she will be fine. I will make it up to her.  She understands that I have to pour myself into the church to protect our future. I am being really spiritual by giving myself to the Lord in this way.”

To the pastor, his marriage is solid; has a strong foundation. No problems.  But marriage requires regular maintenance otherwise known as  T-I-M-E and A-T-T-E-N-T-I-O-N. When a pastor marries, he is committing himself to love his wife by giving her time and attention above anyone or anything other than God Himself.

He has to be honest with that commitment before he is generous by giving his time and energy to others.  

Two young Christian women—Jenn and Haley–moved in next door to us. Their place had been thoroughly remodeled–a service van had been outside each day for months. Their attitudes were lovely–kind, warm, grace-filled. My wife and I loved them like the daughters we never had. 

When Mary—also a young Christian professional–moved in to split the rent three ways instead of two ways–she brought her dog. They discussed the care of her puppy. Jenn volunteered to watch the dog each Monday because Mary worked late on Monday. Tuesday, Haley would be the dog-sitter because Mary had an obligation each Tuesday. That was cool. Friday Jenn was up again because Mary had to take care of her horse which was boarded 30 miles away.

They talked about it. Everything was good, Jenn and Haley felt it was an opportunity to love Mary by taking care of the puppy. 

Like all puppies, it was not house-broken and it deposited waste anywhere and everywhere.  But Jenn and Haley were “in,” and soldiered on with the clean-up whenever necessary.

Months rolled by with a seemingly working arrangement in place. 

Previously, Haley had had two difficult days in a row at work and was exhausted when the dog threw a hissy-fit, creating a lot of work for her. #*^+#!!!  But Haley had hung on, believing it was her Christian duty to be kind, go the second mile and persevere.

But then came Monday, January 9, 2023.  That’s when the puppy made a mess, kept scratching at the door to be let in, and was generally demanding.

 Jenn was torqued.  They were going to talk with Mary as soon as she got home.

Even though Jenn had previously agreed to help, she now felt taken advantage of.  Mary did not seem to pick up on the displeasure of Jenn or Haley (developing a social sensitivity is a part of maturing). It was time to re-negotiate the arrangement. 

Both Jenn and Haley came over to our home to talk over the situation. Separately.

But Mary had a tough day herself on the 9th and requested a delay. So instead of letting it all out, Jenn and Haley had to hold it all in another 24 hours. The three young women prayed about it and left it alone until the 10th

I was very impressed with both of them (we never talked with Mary). Even though Jenn was ready to pop, she said, “Scripture warns against speaking rashly.”  Haley was equally impressive as she calmly looked at the factors and listened to us. 

I suggested that the owner of the house—who had invested megabucks in remodeling the home–would like his home to smell good. And that as Christians, Jenn and Haley had some responsibility to him.   

Second, that these young women were learning what young pastors learn–you have to be honest with commitments before generously giving away more time and energy.  We can only do so much with a good attitude before anger sets in.    All of us have an upper limit of what we can absorb before bitterness is on the horizon. We are sinners who cannot handle everything triumphantly.  We have to “guard our hearts” (Proverbs 4:23).  Sometimes we have to renegotiate a situation because we can no longer be as generous as we would like to be. We have to be honest with our own limitations, guarding our priorities, before we are generous with our time, energy, and money.