A pastor who published a blog post on Relevant this week laying out the dire reasons why secret sins are destructive opened his piece with a stunning admission: "I resigned last week after admitting to secret struggles with alcohol."
Sean Chandler, who had served as an associate pastor at his church for eight years, didn't go into deeper details about that issue, but he did admit that his actions caused "a lot of pain and confusion" for both himself and those around him — and he also spent a fair amount of time talking about the nature of sin.
Though it's often easy for Christians and faith leaders, alike, to pinpoint the sins of others, Chandler said that believers are sometimes oblivious to their own problematic behaviors.
"It's interesting how so much of my preaching is either preaching from my past self to my present self or to a future self," he wrote.
And despite the general ability to see the poor decisions of others, he added that "we find ourselves blind to our own weaknesses and clueless to the foolish paths we're on."
Chandler proceeded to explain why he believes this is the case, offering up a series of proclamations about the nature of sin, leading with the idea that "sin makes you stupid." In essence: poor behavior sometimes blinds human beings.
Some of the other proclamations he made in the piece are: "sin grows in secret," "sin hurts everyone around you," "the light makes sins look even more stupid," "sin shrinks the light" and "in the light there is grace."
Chandler concluded the piece by encouraging readers to turn to God to cope with their sins and struggles.
"Humble yourself in that area and access God's grace to overcome it," he wrote. "You can't do it on your own, and the consequences of keeping it secret aren't worth it. The freedom of God's grace is far better."
That in mind, it's no secret that pastors and faith leaders are human beings who, like parishioners and their followers, also struggle with real-life issues.
Just consider a 2014 survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors in which 23 percent said they experienced a mental illness, with 12 percent admitting they had received a diagnosis of some sort.
And in 2015, a sweeping study about pornography use and the church conducted by Josh McDowell Ministry found that 21 percent of youth pastors and 14 percent of pastors surveyed were viewing smut at the time, with 12 percent of youth pastors and five percent of pastors believing they were addicted.
The same can be said for other issues and struggles as well. Being a pastor doesn't automatically shield leaders from the human condition — and ministry isn't always an easy job, with many people coming to pastors for advice, to process personal pains and to seek emotional support.
Some pastors find themselves struggling not to feel down and out, which is why it's no surprise that an earlier 2011 LifeWay study found that, though 98 percent of pastors "feel privileged" to hold their positions, many also feel lonely and discouraged.
"More than half (55 percent) also agree with the statement, 'I find that it is easy to get discouraged,'" LifeWay reported. "And 55 percent say being in pastoral ministry makes them feel lonely at times."
So, clearly, the struggles can feel intense, which is what makes Chandler's call for humility and a turn toward inner faith intriguing, especially considering that past studies have heralded the importance of faith and humility.
And sharing one's experience — as Chandler did — is seen by many as a helpful tool for coping with and overcoming personal sin. It can also be a form of healing for those embroiled in personal struggles.
Many pastors, in fact, have worked diligently to integrate paths toward humility into their lives and ministries. In 2009, well-known theologian and pastor John Piper focused intently on humility, delivering a pointed sermon on the subject.
"The reason I am talking about it is that I want to be humble and to see this church marked by humility," he said at the time. "As a church, we are human, we are large, we are widely known, and we are sinners. That’s a very dangerous mix."
He continued, "It has almost all the ingredients that go into the recipe of pride."
You can read Chandler's piece, titled, "How Hidden Sin Almost Destroyed My Life," here.