The Church’s Fallen Soldiers and Wounded Warriors

A Sobering Account: Fallen Men–One Out of Every Ten

Here is an extended excerpt from Steve Farrar, recounting the dangers of spiritual leadership:

John Bisagno was twenty-one, he was very excited. He was getting ready to graduate from college and marry the love of his life. He had also decided to go into full-time ministry. He was very optimistic about his future. One night, he was having dinner at his fiancee’s home. After dinner, he went outside on the porch with his future father-in-law, Dr. Paul Beck. Dr. Beck had been in ministry since he was John’s age. As they were talking about John’s future plans and dreams, Dr. Beck gave him some advice, “As you go into ministry, John, make sure you stay close to Christ every day.”

Young John replied, “Yes, sir. I know that’s important.” His future father-in-law continued: “You’re just getting started in this race. And it’s a very long race. You won’t hit the finish line until you’re in your seventies or eighties. The finish line is a long way off, John. But the goal of this race is to finish strong. And that the last thing that Satan wants you to do. That’s why you have to keep your heart close to Christ every day. It’s been my experience that for every ten men who start strong with Christ in their twenties, only one out of those ten will finish strong.”

That shocked John Bisagno. The staggering statistic left him in unbelief. “That cant’ be, just one out of ten?” “Unfortunately, John, that has been my experience. Some men are taken out by the love of money, others are taken out by theological liberalism, and many more are taken out by sexual immorality. Satan knows how to lay a trap and set an ambush. He knows every man’s weaknesses. That’s why it’s been my experience that only one out of ten will finish strong.”

John was blown away by the remarks of the older man. He was so stunned that he went home and started thinking about his friends. They were all in their early twenties and all had bright futures. They were all fully committed followers of Jesus Christ. He took out his Bible and wrote down the names of twenty four of his friends [those pursuing vocational ministry]. He knew these guys. The idea that all of them wouldn’t finish strong was unthinkable. Maybe Satan would pick off a few, but surely most of them would stick. These guys would be willing to die for Christ, if necessary.

I [Steve Farrar] heard John tell this story a number of years ago. It got very quiet in the room when he began to tell the rest of the story. “As the years have gone by, from time to time I have gotten a letter or telephone call. And sadly, I have turned to the page in the back of my Bible and had to put a line through a name. I would always do that with such great sadness. The years have gone by and I am now fifty-three years old. Of the original twenty-four names in the back of my Bible, there are just three of us left.”[1]

The Christian life, especially the ministry-focused life, is full of spiritual pitfalls. This is a spiritual war and there will be casualties. The previous account is sobering–it illustrates the subtle dander that is reserved fro those who take spiritual leadership lightly, approach situations flippantly, or fail to recognize their vulnerability and complete inadequacy apart from the singular source of power and protection–the Spirit of Jesus Christ. May we cling to Christ and plead with Him to “guard our hearts and minds” by the power of His grace and love!!

For further reading, see: “The Almost Inevitable Ruin of Every Minister… And How to Avoid It” by Don Whitney

[1] Steve Farrar, Finishing Strong (Sisters: Multnomah Publishers, 1995).

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