Yahoo News ran a story yesterday about a Pennsylvania Pastor, Jim Moats, who claimed service as a Navy SEAL to a local paper as part of a story in the days following the killing of Osama bin Laden. The pastor, who confessed to the fabricating story, evidently purchased a Trident medal at a military surplus store and wore it around town- as well as telling what Navy SEAL training was like to the paper. But to some real SEALs who read the article, they recognized that his story closely paralleled depicted in the Steven Seagal classic “Under Siege.”
Really? You ripped off details from a Steven Seagal movie?
Now, this pastor is not the first person to make up a story (read: LIE!) about their military service. Several politicians have been caught spinning tales about their military careers. But one quote in the story is really telling. It comes from retired SEAL Don Shipley. He says, “We deal with these guys all the time. Especially the clergy. It’s amazing how many of the clergy are involved in those lies to build that flock up.” (Note: It was Shipley who said the pastor’s tale sounded more like “Under Siege” than real SEAL experience.)
Clergy are “those guys” who fabricate stories about military service? Where is our integrity as pastors?
Do we really need to “puff up” our testimonies and personal stories in order to lead people to Christ? Can’t a boring conversion story of been in the church all my life and God has been faithful just as powerful of a testimony as the skid-row to front row of the church testimony?
Pastors, leaders, and fellow Christians- when we have to lie to share our faith, it destroys our character and damages our witness and the witness of those Christians who have integrity in their lives and ministry. The story of our faith is not tied up in who we are and what we have done (whether mundane or great), but our story of faith rest firmly upon the foundation of what God has done through Jesus Christ in our life. That we have been redeemed and reconciled through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus- God’s Son. Our preaching, teaching, and our testimonies should rest on what God has done, not what we have done.
What’s your faith story? Mundane? Fantastical? Have you ever been tempted to embellish your story? What did you ultimately do?