Category Archives: Wisdom

Preventing an affair

I’ve gotten many letters because of this site.  Sadly they come from the broken people who sat in the pew.  Not one note has come from a pastor who has made the terminal choice to have an affair.  I’m sure it’s just too hard to be honest.  We are masters of justifying our actions, “I just wanted to be happy,” or “my wife wasn’t meeting my need,” and “God will forgive me.”  All the excuses you might hear will never justify this breach of trust, this sin of betrayal.

Adultery for a pastor betrays trust with his wife, his children, his parish and his God.  The results of such a sin are more far reaching than most will ever know.  The church is crippled, the pastor and his family are brutalized and the work of God is ridiculed by a watching world.  There are few sins worse for a church than adultery by the pastor.  That church, that pastor will never be the same again.

So, how do we prevent affairs in the pastorate?  How do we protect our pastors from this horrible and destructive sin?  What can you do to help?  Here’s a few thoughts that will help your church protect your pastor from the attack from the enemy of our souls,

1. Pray for your pastor.  No pastor can fight this battle on his own.  The enemy is after your pastor, you need to know that.  He may not realize how serious the task is, but it is extreme!  Years ago I pastored and was constantly  the focus of women wanting time with me.  God was good and protected me, but I noticed something significant.  After a number of years in the ministry I took a break and went into the business world for a few years.  Suddenly something became crystal clear-  women weren’t looking at me in the same way any more!  I was shocked that it was so dramatic.  I was surprised that they weren’t after me anymore.  I was no longer the devil’s target.  The heat was off, but it was obvious to me how powerful this weapon is for the enemy.  Most pastors don’t realize this.  Pray for them that God will protect them, guard them and help them.

2. Build men around your pastor and hold him accountable.  Get some men around him and build a team of “mighty men” to protect your pastor from the attacks of the enemy.

3.  Encourage your pastor to never be alone with a woman other than his wife.  It’s just too dangerous!  If he counsels people make sure there is someone in the church office with him.  Don’t put your pastor is this dangerous place.  The counseling office is where the problems begin.  In our church we never counsel a woman without a secretary in the church office.  We have also installed windows in each pastor’s office door so the counseling room is not secret, hidden and made a place of temptation.  You pastor might think he’s strong enough to handle this, but he’s not!

This will be a good start, but there is more you can do to help.  If you are a member of a church family you need to know your pastor is under attack.  Help him finish well.  Pray for him, get good and strong men around him, protect him from temptation places.  This is too important.

How do you prevent an affair?  Never ever assume you will never fall!  Always protect yourself.  The enemy prowls about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour and his weapons for the pastor are often a pretty woman in need.

Honest thoughts from the “inside”

As a pastor on the staff of a church going through our own recovery from the fall of our senior pastor I wanted to take a few minutes to share my own thoughts with you.  You might not hear these words from another pastor, so I wanted to tell you my thoughts after 2 years of living in the middle of this earthquake and the tremors that have followed.  These are honest thoughts, and are my thoughts at this moment…having just passed our 2 year anniversary of the pastor’s fall.  Some may seem obvious, but I hope they will help you understand the reality of what your own pastoral staff may be going through if this happens in your church.  Ok, are you ready? Here’s some of my HONEST thoughts-

– There are many days I wish I could just run away.  This is much too hard!

– I know many of our people are angry with the pastor for his sin, I just feel sorry for him….he has a sad life ahead of him.  This can’t end well.

– I often feel really hurt by many who just left the church without a word or call.  They were friends of mine, and they didn’t even call me.  I know the body was hurt by this, but don’t forget…this hurt me too.

– I thought we were a family, but it wasn’t really true.  Many that we thought were part of our church really weren’t.

– I’ve been angry. I hope all of this doesn’t make me bitter too.

– I’m tired…this is a long ordeal.

– Why did God put me here to go through all of this?  What am I supposed to learn from this?  How do I use all of this to help others? (This web site is intended to help address this last question.)

– At what point does a man decide that he will give up EVERYTHING for a few minutes of sex with another woman?  I would love to know when he made that decision, and what he was thinking.

– I hate sin!  After living through the mess of these last two years I HATE sin.  I hope that feeling remains strong in me.

– Was there anything I could have done to help?  I didn’t see any of the signs of this, I wonder if there was anything I could have done.

– I know I could leave and pastor a church of my own and start over…..I’m often tempted to do that.  I’m tired.

– I know God has worked in my life through these two years….I wonder what I can do with all of this? 

– I know that lust and sex are alluring, but how could a guy give up everything for it?  He must have just lost his mind for a bit….no sane person would ever do that.

– When the “junk” of all of this gets too much at times I would love to find the former pastor and give him a good swift kick in the pants!  He deserves it!  How could he do this???

– The devil is sure good at making us do stupid things.  How does he make a smart man act like a stupid fool and think it’s a good thing?  He’s a really good liar!

– I wonder how long it takes before things begin to get better?

– I wonder when I won’t think about this every day?

– I hope this hasn’t hurt my walk with God.  Have I allowed sin in my life because of the struggles of these two years?

Ok, there are just a few of my running thoughts….they go on, but you get a taste of the battle here.  So, if you find yourself in a church going through this please pray for your pastors.  They are in the middle of this battle as well.  We will each need God’s help for the recovery and restoration of our church and it’s family.

After the earthquake, part 1

Two weeks after our senior pastor fell I was in the pulpit to help us, as a church, take the next step.  The Lord graciously gave me a concept that has become a part of the vocabulary of our church family.  We now talk about “after the earthquake” as a common term to describe our pastor’s fall, the announcement of it to our church family and our life together since that day.  This message was given over two weeks, and was so important that I want to share it with you.  It’s a quick and easy read, but what you will find is that a pastor’s sin is much like an earthquake.  Its destruction is massive, and the church and people in it will never be the same again.  It will change you, and it will change your church.  So, here is part one of “After the earthquake”-

 “We have an amazing church family! Your responses to what we have been through as a church have been amazing!

You have said, “What can I do?”

“How can I help?”

“What do you need me to do?” 

Of course we are going through a grieving time, and a loss, but almost everyone we talk to is saying the same thing, “We will grieve, but this is our church, where are we going next?”

I am so excited to be part of this family. The unity and love of this church body is very encouraging.

As to what can you do? We will be addressing those things soon…thank you all for being part of this family and being willing to help. So, let me give you one assignment right now. This is easy. Are you ready? Pens in hand?  Ok, here it is- connect with others in the body you don’t know. Reach out to one another. We have people here who are new, and aren’t connected yet, help them. 

 We have received so many words of encouragement from you all, many in person and many more by letter and e-mail.

Here are some of your comments to us-

 “My daughter (Jenna – age 8)  and I are committed to praying for you each night this week as you prepare for your sermon; that you be lifted up by God, that you are not nervous (Jenna prays this) and to communicate God’s word effectively.  God bless you and we know you will do well.”  -Kent

 “There is such a beautifully sweet spirit at CBC right now….undoubtedly we are being cared for by our Savior and King. We just need to keep our eyes fixed on HIM.”  -Marsha

 “We would like to begin giving to your church but do not have envelopes (we are not members).  Could you please mail us some envelopes?  Thank you” -John

 “What a challenge and test of our faith we have ahead of us as a church body. I am also praying that God will mightily use me and other men in this time to lead, serve, and minister to the church body as we seek to emerge from this even stronger than we were before. Your brother in Christ” -Chris

 “…We must keep pressing on, not wavering and picking up the weak ones along side of the road as we keep walking this journey.  It has been a long time since my wife and I prayed for the church staff and body like we did last night. I know this will only make all of us stronger. I hope this will be some encouragement for you on this new day that the Lord has created. Keep your chins up, there will be people watching.” -Jason

 These last few weeks have been an earthquake for us as a church family…

 An earthquake is different than any other natural disaster because you don’t see it coming….it happens, and then we must deal with the results-

 the devastated roads,

 the broken buildings,

 the shattered lives.

 Earthquakes are destructive. They literally shake our foundations.  Often the problems caused by the earthquake destroy more than the earthquake itself.

 The 1989 San Francisco earthquake broke gas lines that started fires that destroyed whole city blocks.  Broken water pipes flooded homes.  Some damage didn’t show up for months. Weakened homes had to be torn down.  One house was destroyed and one next door untouched.

 Earthquakes destroy lives. They cause fear. They are felt far from the epicenter. They are expensive!  And, after the earthquake you have to rebuild your life.

 Earthquakes bring change. 

 Church family, we have been through an earthquake.

 Shake a building and you will see how well it’s built, shake a church and you will see what it’s built upon.

 We are blessed that our foundation, as a church, is Christ alone.

 So, what do we do now? Where do we go from here? 

 In these next two weeks called, “After the earthquake” I would like us to look ahead, and focus on two things-

 1.     What do WE do? (corporate)

 2.     And what do I do? (individual)

 Rebuilding after an earthquake is a challenging time.  It’s a time of grief about what we lost. 

 And a time of hope about what can be in the future.

 As you rebuild you do things that you may have wanted to do, but simply didn’t do before.  “I think I’ll paint this place blue, always wanted to do that.  I think I’ll put in a new bathroom since the old one is destroyed.”

 After an earthquake things change.  As a church family we will find ourselves making some changes too.  As we move away from our earthquake we all will look back with sorrow and loss, and look ahead with hope and promise, but WE WILL DO IT TOGETHER.

 And, after our earthquake things will change… They always do after an earthquake. 

 The hard part for us is we don’t like change!

 Recently, before all of this happened, our senior pastor started a series in Philippians.  I wondered why, but after coming through the earthquake our church family has experienced I find that the very next verse in the study brings us to the very place we need to be. 

 The passage we will go to today will give us directions on what to do after the earthquake, what to do next….what WE, as a church family, are to do next….

 Philippians 1:27-2:8 (New International Version)

 27 Whatever happens, 

 We are at a “whatever happens” time. We will all have many “whatever happens” times in our lives, but this is a big one for our church family.  I don’t know about you, but this is the biggest “whatever happens” time I have ever seen! We have all had some “whatever happens” times in our lives- a death, an illness, financial problems.

 The instructions that follow are instructions for the whole church, in the middle of a “whatever happens” time.

 conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.  In the Greek-  act like citizens. Not Roman citizens worshipping Caesar, but citizens of the new kingdom worshipping God. Remember who your Lord is and live like one of his citizens.

Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you

 1. stand firm 

 2. in one spirit, 

3. contending for the faith of the gospel

 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved-and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

 Did you notice that? It has been granted to you? It sounds like a priviledge, doesn’t it? And it is!

 Philippians 2- Now Paul moves us into choices we must make because of what God has done for us:

 1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.  3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude (to exercise the mind, that is, entertain or have a sentiment or opinion; by implication to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction) should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

 Here’s what it looks like:

 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,    being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross!

 Our model for body life is Christ. This passage of scripture gives us the picture of what the proper Christian family life looks like- each of us serving Christ by serving one another.

 Christ has set the bar very low….we can only go under it on our knees, serving HIM by serving one another.

 Here are some basic things you need to know about this kind of life that Christ modeled for us:

 1.     It’s different than how the world acts.

 2.     It’s not about me, it’s about others.

 3.     If you act like a servant, people will treat you like one, be a servant anyway.

 4.     Not all the jobs of servants are fun or glorious.

 5.     It’s the very lifeblood of the church- the servant’s heart. That’s what makes us look like Christ. 

 6.     And, last, it’s not an individual calling, it’s a body calling…all of us, serving Christ together by serving one another.

 This is the answer to “What can we do?”  Here it is.  After the earthquake, imitate Christ and serve Christ by serving one another.”

 “God does not have to come and tell me what I must do for Him, He brings me into a relationship with Himself where I hear His call and understand what He wants me to do, and I do it out of sheer love to Him… When people say they have had a call to foreign service, or to any particular sphere of work, they mean that their relationship to God has enabled them to realize what they can do for God.” –Chambers, Oswald

 There’s part 1 of “after the earthquake.”  It’s very simple, but important.  After a pastor falls the one thing that any leadership group must do is gather the body of believers together to love and care for those who have been hurt by the fall of a pastor.  It’s a very difficult time, but with the Lord’s help you will find that all of you are much stronger on the other side.  God will take care of his church even if the shepherd falls.

What do we do now?

It’s a strange feeling to find that you are suddenly in a crisis you didn’t see or expect.  That’s where we found ourselves on that Monday after the big announcement.  What do we do now?  We talked about the weeks ahead and immediately had an offer from a prominent pastor and friend from another large church in our area who said he would be glad to come the next week to speak and help us as we picked up the pieces of our church and ministry.  It was a wonderful offer and  we accepted his offer gladly. 

In our first week after our discovery and announcement we discussed all the things we thought were ahead- who would preach, how would we work through this, what would happen to our church family, what about giving, and a hundred other topics.  Quickly we realized we needed help.  We knew about a large church like ours which had gone through the same thing a few years earlier so we called them and asked, “Can we come down with some of our elders and meet with your pastor and elders to discuss what is ahead of us?”  They accepted gladly, so the trip was planned.  We were blessed that they are only a few hours away and so I and several of our elders made the trip to meet with this church that had traveled the same road we were about to go down.

This wonderful church was very gracious and gave us a conference room and a day of their time.  They told us about their experience and all that they learned from their pastor’s fall.  We asked questions, discussed thoughts we had, and talked about a number of problems and issues.  Personally, I think this was one of the wisest things we could have done.  We saved ourselves from a number of mistakes by following their wisdom from their own odyssey. 

The road ahead would not be easy, but we made a great choice in seeking advice before we made mistakes we wouldn’t have known about.  The great news for us, as we traveled back home, was their encouragement that we would get through this and would be even better when we got to the other side of our trial.

WHAT WE DID RIGHT: We sought help from another church who had already traveled the road we had ahead of us.  I encourage you, if you are facing this situation in your church, to ask for help.  Find another church family that has traveled this road and seek their help.  That is the reason for this site, I want to help those who are facing this kind of crisis.  God will see you through this time, but you will be amazed at how many mistakes you can avoid with the help of others who are ahead of you on the road you are forced to travel.

FACTS TO KNOW: One out of every five pastors falls.  It is a major problem for the church today.  Every pastor needs other men around him to help him, encourage him and hold him accountable.  Do not assume that because a man is a pastor he is exempt from temptation.  A pastor is the very one the enemy will tempt with  sin, so encourage him, pray for him and build a support ministry around him to help him.