I received this note from one of our former members today. It was very interesting to receive this more than six years after our pastor fell.
“After Pastor’s awesome service on Grace and how God loves no matter what (at another church) , I turned around and saw T— (our fallen pastor) and his wife. I was truly taken back. I wanted to hug him. That experience, our discussions after, and of course God having a hand on me really shaped me.”
Even after all these years people don’t know how to respond to T—. He’s a saint, saved by the grace of God, who fell into sin and yet we don’t know what to do with him. I told my old friend who sent me the note, “Do hug him next time you see him. It will really help him. Ok?” He may have fallen, but he’s forgiven and growing in faith.
How do we deal with fallen pastors?
When do they get to be forgiven by us?
How do we connect with them?
I’ve seen this as I’ve pulled my old friend and pastor back into relationship with me. He was deeply wounded, not only by his sin but also by the response of the body of Christ. It’s as if some would have “strung him up” if they could. Unforgiveness, bitterness, discomfort and avoidance were the responses he encountered and sadly still does at times.
So, what do we do? As a body of believers, we don’t do well with forgiveness and reconciliation. We don’t know how to extend it, what to do about the “sinners” in our midst. What do we do with a fallen pastor? A man caught in homosexuality? A friend addicted to pornography?
What do we do? We seem to think we must be the moral police and protect God’s reputation, but that has never been our role. We are called to forgive…up to 490 times! We are to be known as the forgivers…why? Because we have been forgiven so much.
So, what do you do when you encounter a “sinner”? Approach them, hug them, love them, accept them….it will be like pouring burning coals on their head, because it will be painful for them, but we are called to imitate Christ and he was the master of forgiveness. Even on the cross he said, “Father, forgive them…” So should we!
When you encounter a fallen pastor approach him, love him (not for his sin, but because Christ died for him) and extend grace. You will surprise him and that’s a good thing!