I am the pastor who fell, the one who worked with the man who created this site. Only recently did he tell me about it, and he asked me if I would be willing to write my own perspective as a Fallen Pastor. I responded that if I could offer anything of value to help people, I would be happy to do so.
The first and most important thing is to share my sorrow, grief, and sadness over the hurt and damage my sin has caused. I do not excuse it in any way. It’s been five years and more since my sin became public, and I have lived with regret and sadness every single day since. Beyond hurting people I loved and who believed in me, the worst thing to live with is to have brought reproach on Jesus Christ and discredit to his message of grace, hindering the progress of the gospel. Sometimes I can’t imagine why he has allowed me to live, and even more, to find a new life in which he continues to share grace and love with me. His grace is truly amazing.
Having said this with all sincerity, I believe it might be helpful for me to address what I believe are some misconceptions about “pastors who fall.”
First, I believe it needs to be said that there is no single category of “pastors who fall.” The stories are as unique as the individuals. There are all kinds. The worst cases are serial offenders, who go across town and start another church, seemingly without conscience or repentance. Most pastors I’ve known, however, have been sincere men who wanted to serve God. In the cases of those who fell, they ran into temptation during a time of weakness and sinned, the same as any believer can do. I can’t talk about anyone else’s story meaningfully. I can only speak for myself and what happened to me.
I never dreamed I could fall into adultery. I was married and in the ministry for almost 30 years, and had an unspotted record of integrity and faithfulness. For all those years, I made it my aim to not even flirt with another woman. What happened to me was a gradual breaking down that finally reduced me to clinical depression. Once I hit that state, I lived for almost a year wanting to die every single day. There was no joy, no happiness, no light, seemingly no presence of God in the universe. If you have never experienced it, you’ll have to take the word of those who have and of the medical profession. Genuine clinical depression is not a pouting spell or simply being down in the dumps. It is a brain chemistry phenomenon where you simply can’t reason or feel normally. The emotional pain was sometimes so great that it became physical pain.
It was in the midst of this that a woman came into my life representing a temptation I couldn’t resist. Through her I received brief glimpses of happiness in that dark dungeon. It was only an emotional connection during the following months, but eventually, inch by inch, I got to a point of literal unfaithfulness. That period lasted about two months. I ended the relationship and tried to hang on and pull myself back together, but the secret came out. I was barely functional by that time. I confessed and resigned immediately.
It was the only time in my life that I was unfaithful to my mate, but one time was all it took. My job was over. My career was over. My marriage was over. My wife told me that nothing I could do would change her mind, and she angrily threw me out of the house. I drove away with no place to live and no money.
I think one of the hardest things for church members where pastors have fallen is dealing with the lack of answers. Along with the feelings of betrayal, their imaginations run riot. However, a moment’s serious thought makes it clear that detailed explanations cannot be given to the public. It involves too many people, and too many people would be hurt even more in the process. If there are facts about my marriage and the reasons behind my sin that even my best friends and grown children don’t know, you can be very sure the public isn’t going to hear about them. However, the unanswered questions can drive people pretty crazy and make them increasingly angrier.
I understand that members of the church would like to have “closure,” but I have been preoccupied with other realities like, “Can I find a reason to keep on living at all?” and “What can I do for a job to support myself?” All I had done for 30 years was to work in ministry. What kind of job could I find to do now? Thanks be to God, he has helped me find a new life and a new career. His grace has overflowed to me, the one who betrayed him.
I will never work in public ministry again. If the Lord allows me to serve him in other ways, I am thrilled to do so. I love Jesus Christ, and express my sadness to him every day about my sin. I tell former church members about my sadness and ask their forgiveness whenever I get the chance. I don’t know what else I can do.
Thanks for allowing me to share. I hope these things are helpful to others.