Category Archives: hurt

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.

The NEXT pastor

man-silhouette.svg_.hi_Welcome to 2013!  A new year.  A new beginning.

New beginnings are exciting, but often hard.  They are especially hard when a church family is considering a new pastor after the last one fell in sin.  The church is fearful and still untrusting.  The new pastor is hopeful, but he has much to deal with in this broken and hurting church.

The church thinks a new man will dull the pain and scars of the last pastor, but he can’t.  No man can.  The scars and wounds, the lack of trust and forgiveness needed must all be done over time.  Healing will take a while.  It’s a work of God, not of a new pastor.

Can the new pastor survive the healing process?  Does he know what he’s dealing with?  Usually he doesn’t last long and honestly, most of the time has no idea what he’s facing.  Soon he’s gone and the church is still in pain.

If you are part of a church dealing with a fallen pastor or a pastor coming into a broken church here are some things you both need to know.  Let me list them as they come to my mind.  There are  more, but here are a few:

1. The church is hurting.  The church and the new pastor need to acknowledge that.  Don’t try to pretend it’s not true.  Deal with it honestly and deal with it biblically.

2. The church’s trust has been broken.  Most of the people in the church, although unaware of it, will not trust the new pastor.  The last one, the one they loved, failed them.  How can they trust another pastor?  Trust is something that will have to be earned.  The new pastor needs to know it’s not given easily in a broken church, he will have to work on this intentionally.

3. Forgiveness is needed.  The new pastor will need to talk about what forgiveness is and what the process must be for a church to heal.  Forgiveness is a must if the church and the new pastor are to survive.

4. Trust in another area has been dealt a blow as well.  Wives, who always trusted their husbands in the past, are now more likely to lose trust in their own husbands for a period of time.  If the pastor, a “godly man”, could fall then how can I trust my husband?  That question will be in the air even if never spoken.  A wise pastor coming into a broken church will soon teach a series on marriage.  It will be vital for the church and for the couples who were struggling before all of this happened.

5. Those who might have been thinking about an affair in their marriages before now have “permission”.  If the pastor did it….then…   And some, in spite of the price paid by the pastor who fell in sin, will consider it permission for them to do the same thing.  Some marriages will fail because of the fall of the pastor.  The next pastor needs to be keenly aware of this being a temptation to a few in the church.

6. And last, for this post….although I will deal with this again, the next pastor must be overly careful about his own marriage and how he handles himself.  He must be overly careful. He must make sure he never counsels a woman in the church alone.  He must never meet with a woman alone.  He might be completely trustworthy and would never repeat the sin of the former pastor, but because of the pain and hurt in the church family people will be watching VERY closely.  He has to be especially careful in his actions to help the church heal.  The next pastor may think this unfair.  He would never repeat the same sin, but that’s not the point.  His role is one of healer, restorer, shepherd and in that role he has to guard the sheep…even from their own suspicions.

I have many more in my thoughts as I write, but this post is already a little long.  I’ll revisit this topic again soon.  I hope you all have a great new year and I pray you and your church heal, forgive and grow in the grace of Jesus Christ.

Modeling Christ

“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”

-Paul, 1 Corinthians 11:1

Paul did something I have not seen others do.  He offered himself as the model of what a Christ follower should look like.  As I read these words this morning they once more stopped me to think about what that would look like in my life and yours.

Paul was so confident that he understood the Christ life and was living it that he invited others to follow him and imitate his life.  “Boys, just watch me and do it like I do it” would be Paul’s words to a young disciple.

It demands two important things in a life, 1. that you know what a life lived as an imitator of Christ looks like, and 2. that you are actually living that way.  It demands a clear map of the route and a confidence you are on the path as a disciple yourself…that you are in fact imitating Christ.

But this is exactly what we are supposed to be doing in our lives, isn’t it?  Dads, are you telling your sons and daughters, “just watch me live the Christian life and you will be ok”?  Pastors, are you inviting others to follow you around and imitate your life, your words?  You should!

Paul has given us the foundational principle of discipleship- modeling.  “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” are heady words to say to someone.  It means you must know where you are going, what it looks like, and actually be going the right way. It means you know that others are watching you, following you, imitating you.

If someone is imitating your life will they get it right? Will they be a follower of Christ or a deformed version of one?  Have you invited someone to imitate you as a Christ follower?  If not, what do you need to change? Where are you going that you wouldn’t want another to follow?  Are you modeling Christ for others to follow?

This is our greatest need in the church today…men and women following Christ and inviting others to imitate them in the way.  What do you need to change to make that offer to another?  Could it be that most of us don’t know where we are going in the first place?  If you have never offered this invitation to another what must you change to invite another to follow you?

“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”  What an amazing invitation from the pen of Paul.  I’ve never been invited to follow another in this way, nor have I made the invitation.  I wonder what would change if we did…….and this very discussion is the reason a pastor’s fall is so devastating to a church.  He is the one we are following.  When we discover he is not on the right path it brings disappointment, confusion and loss of faith.

We, as pastors, are to model Christ.  When we don’t the disaster that follows is devastating.

Shame

We are a proud race.

We all try to look good to others.

Pastors are not exempt from this pride.  We are not only playing to the congregation, but we are “competing” with other pastors around us.  Pride is a wicked master.  It focuses the camera on us and not on God, it responds to praise and avoids criticism.  Pride is one of the reasons that honestly about our sins is so hard.  We don’t want to deal with the results of sin in our lives.

The ugly side of pride is shame.  Our pride makes us hide our sins so no one will know, no one will find out.  In some way we think God doesn’t see either, but he does.  And in the revelation of our sins shame comes.  A shame that we have lost the admiration of others, but hopefully also a shame for what we have done.  There are two sides to shame, the shame of loss and the shame of sin.  One is healthy, the other is not.  When sin is revealed and shame is part of our new reality the number one task is to come before God on our knees and share with God all that pride and sin have done.  He already knows, but there is no better way to deal with shame than to open it up  before God.

Shame dealt with well brings repentance.  Shame dealt with badly is just another face of pride.  When sin is revealed the best response for any of us is simply this, “Lord, I am the man.  I deserved the cross you bore for me.  Thank you that you have already forgiven me because of what Christ has done.  I am sorry.  Let this shame I feel bring me before you in repentance each time it comes and let me become one who rejoices in your grace once more.”

Use your shame rightly.  Realize there are two sides to this thing called shame.  One is an aspect of pride that wants to hide what we have done.  The other is a right response to our sin and makes room for the restoration God wants to accomplish in our lives.

You need to know that shame is a healthy part of any sin.  It’s how you respond to the shame you feel that makes such a difference in the outcome of your life and walk with God.

Your experiences

Many are stopping by to read this blog.  That’s encouraging.

Many are suffering from the fall of a pastor.  That’s not encouraging.

Some don’t know what to do next…stay in the church, leave, give up on God completely.  That’s discouraging!

What is your experience?  What is happening in your life as you travel this difficult road?  Take a moment, if you stopped here on purpose, and share your story.  It helps others to know they are not alone in this difficult walk.

A fall of a different kind

I received a comment from David about a fall in his church.  Here are his comments and then I will add a few thoughts of my own,

“Our pastor came to the head deacon & told him to call the sheriffs department and then confessed to embezzling all the church’s funds. Then we get to watch the drama unfold. What I’m watching unfold is how people are making it about themselves. The pastor let me or us down and all the other comments that come with an anger that is self centered. I’m not surprised, our pastor is a man just like the rest of us. I’m not mad at him and I don’t see the issue to be money and betrayal like they are making it out to be. Pastor and his family should be our concern as far as I’m concerned. Everyone is making it about them. The pastor is Satan’s primary target. I’d like to ask these people how many prayed for pastor and his family on a daily basis. When the other pastor or deacons stand in front of the congregation and start crying about how hurt and let down they are. Am I missing something here but it’s not about them. I believe the Bibles tells us our first responsibility is restoring pastor back into the family of God not finding out why he took the money. I only ask why is because if he has another problem we need to help him with another issue.”

David asked some great questions, made some very insightful comments and sees the issues well.  The problem that happens when a pastor falls, either to immorality or fraud,  is an intense wound suffered by people in the body.  Sadly we elevate our pastors to a place we should reserve for God alone and so when they fall we are more wounded and take the sin personally…..we feel the sin was against us!  When we are hurt in this way we have chosen to sin as well and blame it on the pastor.

When this ripple effect of sin happens it’s really hard to isolate what is really wrong with the church, who needs forgiveness, who needs to repent and how to fix the problem.  Another big problem in the story David described is pride.  Pride “muddies the water” so it’s even harder to sort out what to do. In a situation like this a church needs to pray and pursue corporate repentance.  We all need to humble ourselves and ask for God’s forgiveness.

Sadly this usually doesn’t happen.  The pastor is the scapegoat, the church claims to be the wounded party and pity the poor pastor who next takes this church.  So the problem is clouded and the church becomes impotent.

I will be praying for you and your church David. Repentance, restoration, forgiveness and love for one another is God’s desire.  When we divide, destroy and selfishly proclaim our own wounds we do nothing for the kingdom of God.  Sadly I see too many churches “killing” the wounded pastor instead of drawing them close, loving them, restoring them and demonstrating the love of Christ to the fallen man or woman.  I pray we can see through our own wounds and bandage the wounds of our fallen leaders.