If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. (1 Pet. 4:15)

Jay Bakker, the son of disgraced televangelists Jim and Tammy Bakker, often took a back seat to his parents’ thriving ministry and theme park. In response, Jay plunged into a life of alcohol and rebellion. In his autobiography, he recounts how the Lord brought him back from the brink.

Under the pressure of needing to raise half a million dollars a day, Jay’s parents began to compromise. In 1987 it was discovered that Jim had an affair with his secretary. Then he was convicted of fraud and sentenced to forty-five years in prison. Jay was only thirteen at the time. Eventually, because of his son’s advocacy behind the scenes, Jim’s sentence was reduced, and he was released after six years in prison. Through all of this, Jay eventually found freedom in Christ. “It was the realization that God loved me . . . that just set me free for some reason.”

A church leader suffered, not because he so fully identified with Christ, but because he compromised his integrity. Peter reminded us that although our suffering is inevitable, we shouldn’t be bringing it upon ourselves or our families through irresponsible behavior.

We frequently hear of people in the church saying hateful things, then claiming persecution when there’s a backlash. Let’s not suffer for the wrong reasons.

Don’t provoke persecution through irresponsible behavior.

Doug Schmidt is a freelance writer and editor, and serves on the staff of his church as the director of small groups.