My friend and pastor who fell told me at our last lunch that his voice for the kingdom of God has been muted. He’s right. His sin has silenced his voice. It’s tragic because his was a wonderful voice for truth, grace and God’s word. There were few men I have known who loved God’s word as he did. But today his voice is muted by his sin.
How long should a pastor “sit on the bench?” Should he ever be in the pulpit again? When is repentance and reconciliation accomplished for a pastor who commits adultery while in the pulpit? I have strong opinions on this topic, but there are too many factors to be dogmatic in print. The questions that would come from this discussion are many,
Has the pastor reconciled with his church where the sin was committed?
Has he reconciled with his wife?
Has he submitted to other godly men in a period of repentance and healing?
Is he getting counseling? (And, may I add…He should!)
Should he ever pastor again? Here’s where my opinion will be clear- I don’t think any pastor who has committed adultery should be back in the pulpit for at least five years! AT LEAST five years. That much time is the minimum for a man to restore his marriage first of all and then there is the need to deal with a life that would choose this sin. Yes, pastors are attacked by the enemy in many ways, but when sin has occurred there is the need for some time to heal, grow, restore, repent, recover. Should he ever pastor again? Maybe, but not for a number of years. Isn’t that too harsh? Not at all! The pastor who commits adultery has broken trust with everyone. It takes times to rebuild that trust.
Muted? Yes, the voice of any pastor discovered in sin has muted his voice for God. He’s destroyed his witness and walk. He’s broken trust and wounded many. Some will never recover their faith and walk because of the sin of a pastor. Don’t, dear pastor, don’t return to the pulpit until you have taken years away to heal, restore and redeem. Don’t take this sin lightly. The pains this sin creates for everyone around the pastor is more than he will ever know. Muted? Yes.
Can restoration happen? YES! But it will take time. Don’t be impatient. You broke trust with everyone around you, it will take time to restore it. Don’t be in a hurry. Love your wife, love God and humbly repent and restore the hearts and lives you have betrayed. It will take some time….