Should a Pastor with Porn Addiction Be Kicked Out of Ministry?

7 October 2016

This blog post is in response to a question on a Linked-In pastors group of which I am a part.  My answer is way too long for what LI allows, and so I am putting it here and will link to it.

The question on Linked-In referenced an interview with John Piper (which can be found here) that was published this past Wednesday on his Desiring God website.  (If the above hyperlink doesn’t work, please copy & paste this URL into your browser:

My reply:

As someone who does professional coaching with men with sexual addiction I am troubled by several things in John Piper’s article.

1. He seems to come with the presumption that if a pastor (or any man) just tries harder, he can overcome this temptation.  (“When I try to contemplate how a man could be qualified to lead the church as one who has been unable to conquer the temptation of pornography, I can’t imagine that such a person is qualified.”) What begins as temptation very quickly (some say as quick as heroin addiction) becomes physically addictive–chemicals in the brain are affected with porn viewing and masturbation.  That is not to excuse the behavior–it is sin–but to simply imply someone should try harder, is like Nancy Reagan’s infamously naive declaration of “Just say no.” (I’m dating myself by that reference, I know).

2. Piper seems ignorant of the basic statistics of porn use among men and among ministers.  Patrick Means, author of, Men’s Secret Wars, reported that 63% of pastors surveyed confirm that they are struggling with sexual addiction or sexual compulsion including, but not limited to, the use of pornography, compulsive masturbation, or other secret sexual activity.  It is not a matter of numbers justify inaction, but the sheer numbers mean one solution (fired or resign from ministry) does not fit all.  The sheer numbers mean that creative solutions must be found.Mid-adult man in thought, portrait

3. if the church is a redemptive place, the church leadership has a responsibility (in my view) to provide professional care for the shepherd. That does not mean he stays in his position.  He may take a leave of absence (often best in my view, while he or she is receiving treatment and perhaps for a season afterwards to evaluate progress)  or lose his position, but too many church leaders just drum out their pastors and wash their hands of it.  One church leader who found out their former pastor had had a porn problem stated to me, “If we had known we would have fired him immediately and no help would have been extended.”

4. His all or nothing attitude will keep ministers who genuinely need help from coming forward.  The prospect of losing everything: income, ministry, perhaps wife and children (while it should have kept him from beginning to dabble in porn to begin with) is a huge barrier to coming forward.  It is a classic Catch-22.  If a pastor knows he needs help, he knows that if he comes forward, he will lose his ministry.  But if he doesn’t come forward he will continue to descend into the addiction and lose his ministry eventually.  Of course, many don’t come forward and are caught, but if they had the opportunity to come forward and receive genuine help before being caught, I truly believe many (maybe not even most, but many) would.

I recognize that in a broadcast such as this, it is easy to speak in broad generalities and Piper does not want to be accused of being “soft on sin”, but I think is monodimensional answer does a disservice to the thousands of pastors who are enslaved in this sin and to the churches they serve.


10 September 2016

So this has been a Ganesha-kind of week. (Who or what is a Ganesha? You’ll find out later)

First, Thursday, a couple of good friends of mine and I are meeting at Pieology (pizza place extraordinaire) to discuss plans of ways to strengthen and encourage leaders.  As we are in line ordering the things that each of us want on our pizza, I see the guy helping us has a long tattooed line of script on his arm.  It looks something like this:

वक्रतुण्ड माहाकाय सूर्यकोटि समः प्रभः

So, being the curious person I am I asked, “So I know that on your arm is not Arabic, but what language is that?

“Sanskrit” is his one-word reply.  Silence.  He keeps working on our pizzas.

“So…what does it mean?” I ask, determined to keep up this conversation.

“It is a prayer to Ganesha.”

“The elephant-god Ganesha?” I ask.

His eyes dart up and meet mine.  “Yes, the elephant-headed god” he says tentatively.

“I teach Asiatic religions at a couple of universities. I know about Ganesha.” I say, trying to get him to say more.

“Basically it means, ‘Oh Lord Ganesha, move all obstacles from my way’”.

“You have obstacles?” I ask.

He doesn’t go there.

“So you go to temple on occasion?” was my next attempt to engage him.  I know that there are several Hindu temples in the Portland area, including two in Tigard.

“No.” is his one word reply and he pointedly moves down the row to help other people with their pizzas.

OK….so I tried.

And then Saturday evening, I was driving on US-26 out to preach for the Saturday night service at North Plains Christian Church, as I do most Saturday nights.  The traffic gets jammed up around the Helvetia Road/Brookwood Parkway exit (for those of you who know US-26 west of Portland).  It is never backed up at 5:30 on a Saturday night going west.  Sometimes the east bound lanes are jammed with people coming back from a day at the coast or in the mountains, but not the west-bound lanes.

But as I movganeshae over in the left land to pass the line of slow moving vehicles, I see that this line of slow-moving cars is following a pickup with something in it. Looks like something from a parade, perhaps.  The closer I get, I realize that riding in the back of this orange open-bed U-Haul pickup is a 6-7’ statue of Ganesha!

(The local motto is “Keep Portland Weird”, but frankly even in Portland, it isn’t every day you see a parade of cars following a statue of an elephant headed Hindu god going down the highway with streamers flying off of the statue.)

Suddenly several things come to mind:  I knew that this was “Ganesha Katurthi,” one of the most important holidays for worshipers of the god Ganesha.  It is a ten day festival dedicated to Ganesha and asking (like the tattoo that I saw) that all obstacles to their projects would be removed.

I happened to be checking recently on when Diwali (another major Hindu religion) was celebrated this year & was reminded that Ganesha Katurthi was happening about now.  (BTW: Diwali is Oct 30 this year, so buy your Diwali gifts early to avoid the last minute rush)  I also remembered that there was a new Hindu temple being built at the intersection of US26 and Glencoe Rd. (the turn off for North Plains). And as I approached that intersection, sure enough, there were a whole bunch of cars sitting on the empty field where the temple is going to be built.

Well, I needed to get to my responsibilities, so I went on, but made a mental note: I gotta check this out afterwards.

So church was done and I headed home, but I texted my wife that I had a stop to make.  I drove past the freeway to the exit for the field and turned in. It appeared that whatever had happened there was pretty much closing down.  Families were loading up grandma and the kids and putting what looked like dishes from a pot-luck dinner in their vans & cars were leaving.  Kids were running and playing tag in the field, some boys, in full Indian dress were climbing some trees along the outer edge. But, there was no sign of the festive U-Haul pickup or of the statue of Ganesha. I was curious.

People looked at me strangely.  First I was not in appropriate Indian dress, plus I was the only Anglo person to be seen.  But, being the buffoon that I can be, I engaged a couple of different guys in conversation, and all they would say was that Ganesha was down in the water. (Water?  What water?  This was a big dry field).

I meandered on over to where the center of activities was (or had been) and introduced myself to another man.  Every person I met was very cautious & reserved at first, but when I engaged them they became very animated and friendly.

Suddenly out of a crowd I saw a young man I had seen before…he was the guru of the temple that was being built and was in brightly colored robes.  He had made a presentation to the North Plains Chamber of Commerce back in Spring of 2015 about the proposed templnorth-plains-templee. (drawing picture to the right). The church in North Plains had asked me to attend.  The man was distinctive enough looking then that I immediately recognized him.I introduced myself and told why I was there.   He (and everyone) were glad to explain.

He seemed surprised that I knew we were in Ganesha Katurthi (I think that softened them up).  They all laughed when I said how surprised I was to see Ganesha traveling down US26.    Today was the final day of their celebration of Ganesha Katurthi.  And as they were actively working to build the temple, they wanted (and needed) Ganesha to remove all obstacles before them. It was sort-of a blessing of the land.  Usually a statue of Ganesha is taken into a holy river near where the temple is going to be built and immersed in the water.  But this was a dry field.  So (I was told) “Ganesha had dug a big hole in the field”, and when they “found it” they knew they needed to fill it with water and immerse Ganesha in it. (“You use what you have…” one smiling man said sheepishly).  And it was then that I saw what looked like a big pit covered by a black tarp. “Is Ganesha under the tarp,” I asked?  “Yes,” they all said nodding and smiling.

The statue when it arrived had been immersed down in the water.  The kids had been making clay statues of Ganesha and they also placed those in the water.

The priest/guru said, “Ganesha will always be here.”   I asked, whether there also be a statue of Ganesha in the temple.  He looked horrified that I would think otherwise: “Of course!  Of course!” he exclaimed.

Suddenly some people came up and gave him two apples and a paper towel.  He turned to me and said, “Here are apples from our native country.  They are yours as our guest.  And (in the paper towel) here is a sweet [looked like a round loose pastry] made out of chickpea and sugar, for you.”  (an internet search after I got home told me that it was probably a ladoo.) (

After asking permission to try it, I ate the sweet… and it was really, really good.

I wanted to ask if I could go over, lift the tarp & take a picture of Ganesha in the water, but was fearful of being disrespectful.

I gave the guru my card and said I would love to visit some time and I made my retreat as they continued to load tables & chairs in a van and close down their Ganesha Katurthi blessing of their new temple site.

Life can be interesting.   I have no interest in becoming a Hindu and worshiping an elephant-headed god who digs holes in fields.  But the chance to interact with people who think differently than I do and learn about what is important to them will hopefully give me the chance someday to share what is important to me and the faith that I hold.

How Should Non-Profit Leaders Select a Coach?

22 July 2016

SelectingNPCoach_Page_1A helpful article on what nonprofit leaders should look for when they are considering hiring a coach. Some excellent advice.








Questions for Evaluating Staff

4 December 2015

Questions for Evaluation_Page_1Two weeks ago, I shared a Self-Evaluation form to be used at the time of a performance evaluation.  Today’s form is one I have used to great benefit.   Even if you don’t use all of  the questions, there are several here that you might pick from to  create your own individualized performance evaluation for a staff member.

To download the form click here:  Questions for Evaluation


Got a good, non-copyrighted, form that you have found useful?  Send it to me and if I find it useful, I’ll post it and credit it to you!   cal@calhabig(dot)com.

FREE FORM FRIDAY: Self-Evaluation Worksheet

20 November 2015

Self-Evaluation WorksheetWith the end of the year often comes evaluation season.   Both staff people as well as supervisors often hate them.  But they are an essential part of accountability so that all staff (including supervisors) are accomplishing what they were hired to accomplish.

This week and next I will present two evaluations forms.

This week’s is a Self-evaluation form, to be filled out by the staff person and passed on to the supervisor, preferably before the face to face evaluation.

Next week we will have a sample of an evaluation form for the supervisor to use in evaluating the staff person.

What sorts of self-evaluation forms for performance evaluations have you found useful?  Are there items excluded here that you think should be included?

You can find the Self-Evaluation Worksheet here.


Got a good, non-copyrighted, form that you have found useful?  Send it to me and if I find it useful, I’ll post it and credit it to you!   cal@calhabig(dot)com.

FREE FORM FRIDAY: Conference Report Form

6 November 2015


Conferences and continuing education are big business across America.  According to the presentation, “Redefining Measurement for Continuous Learning” given by Todd Tauber at Bersin’s IMPACT 2014 conference, $150 billion per year is spent by American businesses and organizations in staff conferences and training.    The average spent per employee per year was $1,200, with tech businesses leading the way at $1,847 per year per employee.

In Fortune magazine’s annual list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” they state that these “Best Companies” have a 65% lower voluntary turnover rate than other companies in general.  While that arises from a number of factors, training and development play a big part in it.

The blog, “How Top Companies Make The ROI Case For Employee Training” at (from where these stats come) quotes Todd Tauber to say, ““In essence, learning and development is at the core of what high impact performing organizations do.”

The same is true for non-profits and churches.   But in many cases, staff members are sent to conferences and training and nothing that they learned is shared with their peers.  Great ideas go unimplented (or at least unexamined for implementation) because of what I call “conference siloing”. (Benefits and insights are enjoyed by part of the team in one silo, but kept from the rest of the team because they are in a different silo).

For several years I asked my staff to fill out and share with all staff a Conference Report Form.  Often, we would ask for a (brief) verbal report at staff meeting to go along with the written report.

A side benefit is that staff go to trainings knowing that they will be expected to bring ideas and insights back from the workshop/conference.  That piece of accountability is helpful in keeping staff from seeing conference time as vacation time to do what they want.   The organization is paying their way, they need to bring back tangible benefits from the training.   If not, either that training should not be attended in the future, or the staff person should have to justify future training requests and what they will get out of it.

The attached form is not the exact form that I used with staff, but is one that I have updated and improved (IMHO).  I have left it in Word format (rather than converting it to pdf as I usually try to do) so that you can directly take it and type into it.

Click on the link to find the Conference Report Form

Please put any questions or comments in the comments section below.

Reference: “How Top Companies Make The ROI Case For Employee Training” retrieved at


Got a good, non-copyrighted, form that you have found useful?  Send it to me and if I find it useful, I’ll post it and credit it to you!   cal@calhabig(dot)com.

FREE FORM FRIDAY: Exit Interviews

30 October 2015

Exit InterviewThe reality of all organizations is turn-over.  People will come and people will leave.

Making the best of that often depends on a good exit interview.   In each of my last several positions I have implemented a formal exit interview questionaire followed up by an interview.

Attached are some of the questions I included on that questionnaire and then discussed with the exiting employee.


Find the file here: Exit Interview



Got a good, non-copyrighted, form that you have found useful?  Send it to me and if I find it useful, I’ll post it and credit it to you!   cal@calhabig(dot)com.

12 Helpful Tips on How to Use a Secretary

29 October 2015


“He may act like he wants a secretary, but most of the time they’re looking for something between a mother and a waitress,” –-office manager Joan Holloway to new recruit Peggy Olson in Season One of Mad Men.

Secretaries/office admistrators can be a boon or a bane to church leaders.   I have had everything from volunteer secretaries who came in once a week to type and run the church bulletin for the upcoming Sunday to multiple secretaries who had both individual areas of responsibility as well as overlapping areas of responsibility.  I have had secretaries who, decades later, I still keep in contact with and consider as friends.  There are other secretaries who…well, let’s say I do not still keep in contact nor consider them as friends.

One of the learning curves that most young leaders have is how to use (and not abuse) a secretary.  Let me share a few helpful insights:

  1. Clarify up front what the purpose of the secretary is: is she* there to do general church work primarily/only/also? What is fair to ask of her and what is not.  A helpful understanding of what is within bounds results in hurt feelings later on.  With multiple staff churches–be sure that the lines are clear about who can delegate what to whom.
  2. Generally, a secretary is there to do the tasks that do not take the specialized skills the staff person possesses, like photocopying, mailing, faxing, scanning, even typing things that can’t be OCR’d (or proofreading things that have been OCR’d).  It is not that the pastor/leader is above doing those things…it is that he/she needs to spend his time doing the things which only he can do.   Time spent doing the above activities takes away from the time that the leader has to do the things for which he/she was specifically hired.    The overall attitude should be that the you and she are partners.  She is not an underling.
  3. If possible, a secretary is a great “screener” of calls.  Most of my secretaries were instructed to inquire about the nature of the call (“may I ask what this is about in case I can help you?”) so that I didn’t take a call and then have to transfer it back to her for action, or (worse) explain to her what action needed to be taken after the call was completed.
  4. A secretary can organizing the leaders work expenses/time sheets of staff/other simple data entry.
  5. Have a weekly meeting with your secretary, generally separate from an all-staff meeting.  There are usually projects that the two of you need to discuss that do not concern the rest of the staff.  It needn’t be long–often as short as ten minutes–but it is a vital communication tool.
  6. Give your secretary permission to act on certain items–not only does coming to ask you take time away from what you are doing, but it slows down the decision/action process needlessly.
  7. Find some projects that your secretary has full control over. He or she will have more job satisfaction if a few projects are hers/his alone, instead of always being dependent on you for daily tasks.
  8. Ask your secretary’s advice before unilaterally making changes in church/office procedures.  She often sees a side of “unintended consequences” that you might not see!
  9. A more advanced skill is giving your secretary control over your calendar.   Allow her to see your calendar as well as make appointments for you.  Sharing this control is extremely hard for most leaders who see their calendar as totally their domain, but in reality in a partnership a good secretary can bring sanity to your calendar. There are features in Google Calendar and perhaps in Outlook that allow you to share your calendar with another person, including sharing only part of the items on your calendar.  (Often through the use of mutual “subcalendars”)
  10. Make sure that the secretary has a folder or notebook documenting procedures so that if she is ill or leaves suddenly how something is done is clearly documented.  How does someone book a room in the building? How does the secretary deal with benevolent requests? What is the policy for loaning out keys/security codes to the building? The list can be quite extensive.  To have to reconstruct this if a secretary is suddenly gone can lead to headaches, multiple phone calls and embarrasement about the level of professionalism in the office.
  11. Your secretary is your professional secretary not your personal servant.  A close relative of mine told me of being required to go buy crickets for the pastor’s children’s pet lizard and of running to the city offices to pay the pastor’s personal water bill.  Personal tasks are your responsibility, not your secretary’s.
  12. The primary offense that can lead to firing a secretary must be a lack of confidentiality.  The secretary can be a rumor production mill if she does not understand the importance of confidentiality.  Unfortunately many church people are often looking for the “inside scoop” and some secretaries are all to willing to share that.  This can totally undermine the relationship between a church and minister as well as a minister and secretary.
  13. (Yes this is a list of 12, but this had to be added): To proofread your work!!  A good secretary has solid grammar/spelling skills.  My hide has been saved several times by a secretary pointing out a grammatical faux pas or misspelled word.  If there are grammatical/spelling errors in this blog post, blame the fact that in my solopreneur business, I don’t ahve a secretary! 😉

There is certainly more that could and perhaps should be said, but those twelve are a solid foundation of how to develop a healthy productive relationship between leader and secretary.

In a future post, I intend to discuss the possibilities of using a Virtual Assistant as a pastor/non-profit leader. While that practice is relative common in the solopreneur businesses with which I am familiar, I have not heard of it being used in churches/nonprofits. It could be, to great profit.


*While admittedly sexist language, the number of male secretaries in churches is minuscule.



FREE FORM FRIDAY: How Well Do You Delegate?

23 October 2015


Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out. -Ronald Reagan

I don’t problem with delegation. I love to delegate. I am either lazy enough, or busy enough, or trusting enough, or congenial enough, that the notion leaving tasks in someone else’s lap doesn’t just sound wise to me, it sounds attractive.–John Ortberg

One of the critical pieces of leadership is delegation.  There are many reasons not to delegate: and many of them deal in the area of fear and pride: 

  • Perception that you don’t have enough time to explain the task to someone else
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of not getting credit
  • Losing tasks You enjoy
  • Believing that you can do it better
  • Fear of delegating yourself out of a job
  • No confidence in team members

An important tool is Lothar Stewart’s questionnaire: How Well Do You Delegate.  I would suggest you take it yourself, but also ask your team members to take it and then discuss it together.

The form is here: How Well Do You Delegate


Got a good, non-copyrighted, form that you have found useful?  Send it to me and if I find it useful, I’ll post it and credit it to you!   cal@calhabig(dot)com.

What Constitutes an Unhealthy, Cult-like Church?

18 October 2015

A week ago two parents in a New York church beat one of their sons to death and grievously wounded a second son because at least on of the sons was trying to leave the congregation.

Periodically we hear of these dangerous churches that use abuse and fear to control people. There are extremes on both sides: those who say such abuses never happen and those who say that such abuses are rampant in churches.

Several years ago, the Spiritual Counterfeits project published a list of 37 questions to ask that would indicate whether or not a church has cult-like tendencies. It is a helpful list for all of us: church leaders and church members to keep in mind:

Click here to read the list.


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