Category Archives: affair

Again….

Again I face the fall of a pastor.  Each time I have to deal with this in a church, in a life, it’s hard.  It’s messy!  Lives are shattered, tears are shed, families are destroyed and faith is shaken.

I think that is the very reason Paul warns Timothy, “FLEE immorality!”  It destroys far more than we could ever imagine and we can never make it right again.

Maybe this should be the first lessons for any new pastor.  Here is what I would tell them,

  1. Sex is enticing, exciting, fun….for a moment in time.
  2. You are a target
  3. You will be tempted
  4. Sexual sin outside of your marriage as a pastor is a sin
  5. The price is far higher than you know
  6. The tears are more than you can imagine
  7. The damage will never be repaired “as it was before”
  8. It’s not worth it!!!!
  9. If you think you can “get away with it” you are wrong!
  10. FLEE sexual sin

There’s my short list.  Every pastor taking a new church needs this drilled into his head.  In one of my early churches I had several women “chasing me.”  I was scared to death of the sins that would result and ran for dear life.  But a few years later I left the ministry for some time away in business and suddenly the attention from women stopped.  I realized, to my surprise, that it was my position they were drawn to and not me.

This is spiritual warfare and it is one of the most effective weapons of the enemy.  If he can get you, as a pastor, to fall then he destroys much more than one life, much more.

So, what I say to anyone thinking about the lure of sex outside of marriage is this, “FLEE!!!!!  Run for your life.”

 

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Regret

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”  -2 Corinthians 7:10
Regret is something I think about often.  We all do it when we think about the bad choices of the past.  I regret so many things it’s hard to keep up with them.  I regret not saving more, I regret not saying I’m sorry when I needed to, I regret not playing with my kids more.  There are so many.
I’m sure, if you made a list, there would be several that you wish you could have a mulligan on, a do-over.  That’s the way of regret, once we have done it or said it we must live with the consequences of the action or the word for the rest of our lives.
Most of our sins leave us with small regrets, but the sin of a pastor who has fallen rings with an amplified regret.  It’s in bold letters for them if they are tender to God.  But with regret comes two other emotions we each must deal with- the fantasy of what could have been and the fear of what might be.  All of these are the results of bad choices and not trusting God with our lives.
Regret is real, but God’s desire is that we use it to repent and be restored to him and his family.  We can’t undo what we have done, but we can use the regrets of our sins to make good choices in the days ahead.
God’s desire for the fallen pastor is that he would repent and walk with God once more, a son restored, forgiven, rejoicing in the savior who gave his life for all our sins….even this one.

Humble reconciliation

One of the things that rarely happens when a pastor falls is reconciliation.  There is simply never closure on the sin that destroyed his life, family, another family and the church.

This morning a friend and I were visiting about reconciliation and God’s work in our lives.  It made me ask…who have I wounded and not reconciled with?  And so I offer this note for your response, for your consideration.  If it’s something that applies to you in your relationships with me would you offer me the opportunity to pursue reconciliation in our relationship? If it’s a reality in your life, your family, or your church would you use the following paragraph to heal wounds, mend relationships and demonstrate the love of Christ to others?

Share these words with someone you have hurt,

“I’m thinking through the people I’ve known and cared about for many years and fear that I have left something undone with you.  Are you and I “ok”?  My goal is reconciliation, the healing of any wounds I may have caused.  Is there something between us that I can address, deal with or repair?  Have I offended you in some way and left you wounded?  Please do let me know.  And thank you for the grace you give me to be broken and still on the journey to become like Christ.”

I wonder what would happen if we humbled ourselves and took the first step to healing wounds in our lives and the lives of others.

The cruel one

Proverbs 5:8-10

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Keep your way far from her
And do not go near the door of her house,
Or you will give your vigor to others
And your years to the cruel one;
10 And strangers will be filled with your strength
And your hard-earned goods will go to the house of an alien;

The cruel one.  What an interesting wording from this passage about adultery and promiscuity.   In the heat of passion with a pretty woman a man may fail to realize he’s also about to suffer the wrath of the cruel one.  I’m fascinated by that wording.  On one hand affection, passion and love of a woman who isn’t your wife.  On the other hand the wrath, anger and hatred of the cruel one using this affection to destroy you.

Few men in the pastorate realize that behind the kisses and affection of a pretty woman who says she loves you is an enemy who says he hates you.  What you see as your “soul mate” is actually the perfect weapon of the enemy of your soul whose only goal is the destruction of your life,  your marriage,  your ministry and your church.  In a moment of passion and affection he can accomplish all of that!

Church, realize that behind every enticement to unfaithfulness, to an affair, is the cruel one in the shadows smiling at the opportunity to destroy everything you love.  If you find yourself attracted to a pretty face, an affectionate glance, someone who “really cares about you” realize that behind that person is another, the cruel one, waiting to destroy everything you care about.

The cruel one wears his name proudly.  He has no mercy, no care for you, your wife, your kids, your church or your life.  His great deception for you is that this affection, this affair is real and will satisfy your empty soul, but all it will do is destroy everything.  Solomon’s words are a vivid picture for anyone in the pastorate!

What do we do?

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!

Suicide

I wonder.  I think it’s true.  I wonder how often an affair is, in fact, a way to commit pastoral suicide.  The other woman is the gun and the results destroy a life, a family and a church.  I think it happens because a pastor finds himself overwhelmed and unable to keep up.  He’s over his head and sees no way out, so he commits a form of suicide that destroys everything.

Of course it’s not this simple. Nothing ever is, but having watched this for a while I wonder….is this one of the reason for the fall of a pastor?  Does a man find himself unable to keep up appearances, unable to keep it all going and maybe, without even realizing it, uses an affair to destroy everything?

In no way does this excuse the choices.  There are much better and healthier ways to leave a ministry, but I wonder…..

Emotional affairs

Not all the problems a pastor faces involve physical contact.  Equally serious, although never revealed in most cases, are emotional affairs.  They happen with a smile, a little extra time, attention, a listening ear and an interested look.  Soon the pastor is dreaming of the affair he may never have in the flesh, but he’s had it in his mind.

Emotional affairs don’t seem as deadly as a physical affair to most, but they have their consequences and often they are as serious as the physical affair.  The pastor finds himself distancing from his wife and looking for those emotional “fixes” with the “other woman”.  They seem harmless, but if you could see his thoughts you would know otherwise.  The price for the pastor’s marriage is the biggest cost of all.  Although he may never betray his wife sexually he has had a change of affections and she notices it.

Soon the distance between them is further than they know and he is more drawn to an affair because his affections are given to another woman and not his wife.  The bait in this trap seems harmless.  It’s just a little time to care for a woman in need of a friendly ear, someone who cares, but soon it’s much more.

Affairs begin with innocent steps that no one would ever notice, but God sees.  He knows.  He’s aware.  This ministry of a pastor is serious business and should never be taken lightly.  It’s a serious calling, just as the priestly role was in the days of Aaron and Moses.  There is a holiness that God expects.

In 1 Cor. 6:19-20 Paul gives us three keys to dealing with these emotional affairs and how to think about your life, you love and your ministry.  Study the passage and you will find the keys to making choices, but to help make it easy here they are in a nutshell, 1. You are not your own, 2. You have been bought with a price, so 3. Glorify God in your body.

If we could live by these three simple guidelines a lot of our problems would vanish and we would find a real joy in walking with God and denying sin.