On January 18, 1994, retired admiral Bobby Ray Inman shocked the political landscape when he voluntarily withdrew his nomination to be the next Defense Secretary under the leadership of President Bill Clinton. Inman was anything but unqualified, serving under both Republican and Democrat leadership. He served as Director of Naval Intelligence, Vice Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Director of the National Security Agency, and Deputy Director of the CIA. He had chaired several high-profile task forces, most notably after the April 1983 bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, and had served on the board of several publicly traded companies.
Yet, in an hour-long news conference, he explained that the political landscape had become so troubled with trivial accusations and attempted smears that he no longer felt capable to contribute to the needs of the nation. Recapitulating Inman’s announcement, a senior official in the White House administration summarized, “This was a guy who knew how to play the game and thought he could play the game. Only he discovered that the game had gotten a lot harder and a lot hotter.”
Such is the case among western religious professions. In earlier days, pastors, circuit-riding preachers, and religion professors were viewed in high professional esteem because of their moral integrity and the power of their rhetoric to change the course of lives within their communities. Such is not the case, for the most part, in our media savvy culture, where leaks from Ashley Madison and stories of debunked televangelists have corrupted the public's view of the moral fiber of the profession. For the enduring pastor, the game has gotten a lot harder and a lot hotter.
The ministry is under a proverbial microscope that can discourage others from joining the ranks of honest proclaimers of truth. Perhaps this was the point of the Apostle Paul to the young Timothy. Even more, now, in the light of corrupted teachers, it necessitates that you “watch … in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5, KJV). Under the scrutiny of a hotter game, make sure, preacher friend, that you completely fulfill the work of the Lord’s ministry.