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What I Wish I’d Learned From Hershael York

(Over the next few posts, I’m going to talk about several reasons why the book “Fallen Pastor” is for anyone concerned about the future of the church. We are in the midst of a crisis and need to understand how to approach it). Listen to me. When I graduated from THE...

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Can Facebook Ruin Your Marriage?

Posted by fallenpastor | Posted in adultery, relationships, social media | Posted on 20-05-2015

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facebook01A couple of headlines caught my eye recently regarding Facebook and its role in the destruction of marriage. The first was an article by Samantha Yule in The Mirror: “Facebook now crops up in a third of divorce cases over cheating and old flames.

Yule reports that many married people get in touch with old flames through Facebook. Worse, people tend to portray the best of themselves on Facebook when the reality of their situation may not be so great.

The other article was from CNN by Ian Kerner: “E-motional affairs: How Facebook leads to infidelity.” Kerner does an excellent job of listing the factors that lead people down the road of infidelity by the door of Facebook.  He encourages people not to “romanticize the past,” “don’t keep secrets,” “Facebook friends can be more powerful than porn,” and he suggests that if the temptation is too great, get off Facebook.

His article hits a lot of great points. I’ve counseled a lot of fallen pastors in the past few years who were able to carry on an emotional relationship with someone online that got out of hand and eventually turned physical.

A disclaimer, though. Is Facebook the moral evil? No, it’s not. And I don’t think Kerner or Yule would say that it is either. Any type of technology we engage in can be used for good or evil. When our lusts and sin get out of check, we can find ourselves in dangerous and deep waters. We could just as easily be talking about Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or texting.


We have to remember that social media is not a reflection of people as they are, typically. It is a reflection of how we want others to see us.


There are two things I’d add to the previous authors’ observations. First, most of the things we are fed electronically these days are built on the premise of addiction. We like things because they’re easy and fun. We keep clicking the button to see more. Some like social media to unwind after a long day and for some, it’s their means of communication. It can become a problem when we begin to cross lines of morality in the virtual world with real people that we would never cross with them face to face. We have to keep our hearts in check.

Happy Family Hugging Each OtherSecondly, I’d also add that what we see of people on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other media are the best of what they have to offer. It’s easy for a person to look back at someone they knew in high school on Facebook and say, “Wow, they have it all together. Look at their wife, their new house, their new job.

Well, yeah. Because we typically post only the most flattering things about ourselves. We post the high points in our lives. The vacation shots, the perfectly positioned selfies, the shots of us in the clothes we look good in. We don’t post the picture of ourselves after we’ve first gotten up in the morning. Or after we’ve gotten mad at our precious child for leaving their backpack that we tripped over in the floor (for the billionth time) and we yelled at them.

We have to remember that social media is not a reflection of people as they are, typically. It is a reflection of how we want others to see us.

Is Facebook ruining marriages? Facebook is a complex program that we are able to access and if we are not careful, allow it to consume us. Worse, we can use it to propel our sinful desires forward into inappropriate behaviors.

I can tell you this. It’s not the basis for judging someone’s soul. And it’s definitely not a dating service for married people.

(But hey, have you messed up in this area? Are you a pastor, church leader? I’m here to help without judgment. Contact info is below.)

____________________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Pastors and Divorce: The Reality

Posted by fallenpastor | Posted in adultery, divorce, marriage, pastors | Posted on 15-05-2015

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2percentThis isn’t an easy post. Some fallen pastors who have committed adultery end up with the woman they commit adultery with. I was one. How should we approach the issue of fallen pastors and divorce?

Let me share with you a couple of things before I start. The statistic is non-negotiable – 2% of marriages that are built on adultery succeed. You get that? That means if you marry someone that you commit adultery with, you are looking down the barrel of a 98% failure rate.

Now, let me share with you this quote from Dr. Hershael York, preaching professor who I interviewed for my book. He had a great reason why marriages built on affairs don’t really last. It’s because when you’re engaged in an affair, it’s really a fantasy world that you can come and go from. It’s not a relationship that is founded on the marriage ideal:

Every time you have an affair with anybody, I don’t care who you are, in a sense, you’re having an affair with a fantasy and not a real person. Because the person you’ve got to pay the mortgage with, deal with the kids’ soccer schedule with, the one whose vomit you wipe up when they’re sick, that’s the real person you live with. Twenty minutes in the sack on a Tuesday afternoon is really not love. You’ve got to tell yourself that. You’ve got to awaken yourself to the fact that it’s fantasy. If you end up with the person you had an affair with, I guarantee you once you get married you have to face the same issues and same struggles. You cannot take two totally depraved human beings, stick them in the same house and not have friction.” (Fallen Pastor, p. 172)

He’s right. The thrill of the affair is not the same as a marriage covenant.

I did in fact, marry Allison, who was the woman I met and had an affair with. We are still here after five years. We are not the norm. I do not encourage fallen pastors to run after the women they had an affair with. For some reason, Allison and I have made it work. She is great for me. She loves me for who I am and I love her with all my heart. Does that make our sin right? Nope. But we are here, attempting to move on past what we did and trying to live a life of holiness.

I’ve often said that pastors don’t just wake up one day and say, “I think I’ll commit adultery today.” They don’t. It takes a long time to get to that point. Know this – their sin is their responsibility. There are factors that weaken them and I list them in my book – poor relationship with spouse, overly high expectations, church conflict, isolation and many times a huge trauma.

pastorkidsOne thing that many fallen pastors don’t think about is what the fallout will be. When I was on the road to leaving my wife and the ministry, I just knew I wanted to be with Allison. I knew it would cost me my job and the contact I had with my children.

When I finally got caught, it became more real to me. It was all over. All of it. Especially the contact I would have with my children.

I won’t sit here and tell you that it was an easy thing. It was the most difficult thing. In fact, all of the fallen pastors I talk to tell me that losing full-time contact with their children in cases of divorce is the most devastating thing for them.

There are some statistics that should bother anyone involved in church today. The statistic that a vast majority of ministry couples feel that serving in the church has a detrimental effect upon their marriage. That most ministry couples experience anxiety and depression.

People ask me, “Would you do it again if you had the chance?” I don’t like hypothetical questions. What I do consider is being able to provide for my children, making sure they are happy, and being involved with them and being free to talk with them when they desire.

They are daddy’s girls. I am proud to say they love me. We discuss things that I know they only share with me. They know what I did was a sin, but they love me anyway.

Divorce is a terrible, sinful thing. They know this. But each time I see them, they wrap their arms around me and call me “Daddy.” They love me despite my flaws and care about the ministry I’m involved in now.

What is the point I’m driving at? Well, there are two. First, if you are a pastor who is thinking about adultery, please think about the consequences. If you fall, it will affect everyone around you. Your church, your wife, your kids and people in the community. If there is something there to salvage, work on it.

Secondly, if you have fallen, do what it takes to work things out with your family. Your kids, parents, siblings, trustgrandparents, whomever. Not everyone will be easy to trust or forgive you right away. You need to understand that you are the one who sinned. If you are truly repentant and understand grace, then you will give people time to heal.

Divorce is a serious thing. Fallen pastors, are you ready to go into those proceedings? Many hurt pastor’s wives want to leave you immediately. It’s because they are hurt. They often listen to the counsel of their family or those in the church who are hurt as they are. If you want your wife back, try to get an impartial mediator involved.

If divorce is pursued, seek the heart of Christ. Don’t be an angry person. Always be thinking about your children. Don’t respond with hatred when hatred is thrown back at you. Remember that the reason your spouse is acting as she does is because you did what you did. Show true, repentant humility.

You might not be able to stop a divorce, but beginning with true, Christ-like humility can put you on the right step toward a lifetime journey of repentance and holiness.

Finally, I will tell you this. When a wife has been cheated on, she has the right to be angry. Don’t expect her to forgive you or gain your trust overnight. I’ve seen a lot of fallen pastors say to their wives within months of the act of adultery, “God says you should forgive me.” Wrong approach. When we commit adultery, we have caused depths of hurt that we do not understand.

Step back, repent to God and allow Him to work on the hearts of others. Know that trust takes a long time to be restored. It may never be restored. I’ve seen fallen pastors whose wives never forgive them or always hold their adultery over their head.

How does one respond to that? With grace. With the same grace we desire after we committed adultery. We cannot expect to change anyone’s heart but our own. When you sin, turn to God. Allow Him to change in you what it is that went wrong. Even if your marriage ends in divorce, be patient with others. Allow God to make you a new person.

As Dr. York taught me, “Make your repentance more notorious than your sin.”

Want to leave a comment? Click the “keep reading” button and join the conversation.

____________________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Leaving Our Mark On Eternity

Posted by fallenpastor | Posted in encouragement, relationships | Posted on 11-05-2015

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footprintI often wonder about the story of Elijah, the widow and her son in 1 Kings 17. God commanded Elijah to travel to the house of a widow and when he arrived, she had only enough food for one meal. She and her son were starving. In fact, she told Elijah, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.”

Elijah asked her for the food she had left so he could eat and promised her a miracle: “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son.  For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’”

She was faithful and believed Elijah and the promise of God. It must have been a difficult thing to do in the face of starving to death, but she did it. The bible tells us, “The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.”

The thing I reflect on is this – every time the widow and her son went to the jug and jar, they had to think about the goodness of God and Elijah’s visit that day. I’m sure not a day went by that for a fleeting moment, their hearts thought about the miracle that took place. The jar and jug weren’t magical, but the power of God was responsible for the events that day. But the jar and jug were touchstones to the eternal. They were daily reminders to both of them to the power of God and what happens when we place our faith in Him.

The other day, I was reminded of this personally. I don’t own a jar of refilling flour. I have an NIV bible that my Mom bible2gave me one Christmas when I was 17. I wasn’t living the best Christian life possible. I was acting like a little smart aleck most of the time.

Funny thing was, growing up in a Christian home, I already owned about four bibles. But this was different. Mom was reaching out to me with the word of God. And she wrote me a little note in the inside of the bible:

“A long time ago we realized how special you were to us. Challenged by death, at your birth, God reminded us that your life belonged to Him. When you were again challenged by physical problems, god reminded me through my tears that you are indeed a unique individual. Seek God, listen to His voice, reach faith to share the love He has given you through Him Son, Jesus Christ.”

In the back of the bible was a daily reading plan for the year. For some reason, I decided to use it. I hadn’t read the bible in a long time, but I started that day. I started reading and couldn’t stop. Within three weeks, my life and attitude had changed. Why? Because God had changed my heart through His word. What was the means? My sweet mother who loved me and gave me a bible and wrote me a sweet note. A touchstone to eternity. It’s still my favorite bible.

Right now, in your life, there is someone who needs encouragement. There is someone who needs a note or gift from you. Nothing extravagant. Maybe a bible, a bookmark, a book. Write in it. Tell them what you’ve been meaning to tell them for years. Maybe it’s someone who has been like a mother or father to you. Maybe it is your mother or father and you just need to let them know what they mean to you. It may be a sibling, aunt, uncle, teacher, pastor, whomever.

One of the most regrettable things we can do is let time pass without telling someone how we feel. One of the best things we can do is take a pen to paper (not email, not Facebook, but real ink) and write down our feelings for someone. I promise you that most people keep things like that. If you give them a book, a gift or a memento with that message written in it, it will become precious to them. Each time they see it, they will remember you and the love you have for them.

That’s one of the reasons we are put here. To love one another. Take time to leave a mark for eternity today.

_____________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Book Review: “Lessons in Belonging,” by Erin Lane

Posted by fallenpastor | Posted in book review, community | Posted on 09-05-2015

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lessonsLessons in Belonging from a Church-Going Commitment Phobe

by Erin S. Lane

IVP Books, 2015

I haven’t had the pleasure of doing a book review in a while (actually haven’t had the time to read or write much), so I was pleased to see this title come along. Part of my ministry is talking to active pastors who ask me a lot of questions. One of the most common questions I hear from pastors my age is, “Do you know any way I can reach the millennials?

I thought I had some kind of idea before and that’s why I was so intrigued by Lane’s book. She grew up being a staunch church attender and now struggles with the same questions many millennials ask: “Why be part of a church?” Her book is part personal journal, part theological questioning and all excellent reading.

Up front, I want my extremely conservative pastor friends to know something (you know who you are). Ms. Lane has some views different than your own. But that’s okay. You see, if you really want to reach millennials, and if you really want to welcome people into your community like Christ did, then you’re going to have to love people first for who and where they are. We are one body with many different functions. That’s what makes us so great. One of the best things I encountered when reading her book was her fresh and biblical perspective on a lot of things I had never considered.

One of the things that Lane speaks about consistently is “belonging.” She relayed the story of being at a prayer vigil in the community, amongst all walks of people, just being able to meditate and be silent:

Unlike most churches, the prayer vigil is a space without much of an agenda. You could stand next to a pregnant pastor or a balding drug dealer and it didn’t really matter, because you weren’t there to convince one another of anything. You were there to bear witness. To grief and the joy that persists. To God and the people that subsist.” (p. 146)

Her story is a thread of her search for belonging. The same type of belonging that a lot of millennials are seeking. She tells the story of the church she regularly attended. She wasn’t sure if the church was worthy of her trust or if she would get burned by them. She is transparent about her feelings and her theology is sound: “Trust had always ben a test that someone . . . either passed or failed. If they failed, I withdrew my affection, as if to say, You don’t deserve me or I didn’t really want you anyhow.”(p. 73)

She relates trust to the story of God and his covenants with man and how despite man’s sin, God still loved us: “We weren’t worthy of trust based on the evidence. But God weighed the risk of loving us and said, ‘I can handle it if I get screwed.’ And God did. Again and again.” (Ibid)

Through her journey, she shows how we can relate to one another if we are willing to open our hearts and love, trust and belong. It requires trust on the part of the person making the choice to join, but it requires love on the part of the community who is welcoming the person in:

“If I am to join a church, any church, maybe even your church, I need to believe that you want me to belong. This me. The me that I will be in a week. And when this me pretends to walk away, go on ahead, forge the path by herself, I need you to say the following words with some sense of urgency: ‘Stay with us.’ And I will try.” (p. 182)

I really cannot relate to you how profound the thoughts are in this book. I want to tell you that this book is not a strategy for breaking the code for millennials to sign your church register. If that’s your goal, don’t read it. But if your desire is to learn more about a generation that is looking for something greater than themselves and might want to join your community of faith, then I encourage you to buy this book and devour it.

_____________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

 

Our Four Heroes In Life

Posted by fallenpastor | Posted in mom, relationships | Posted on 08-05-2015

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heroesI was listening to one of my new favorite podcasts recently, “I Was There Too,” and heard something really neat. The host, Matt Gourley was interviewing actor Stephen Tobolowsky who is famously known from Deadwood and Groundhog Day (Ned Ryerson). Tobolowsky was recalling a conversation he had with director Harold Ramis who told him that each of us has four heroes in our lives.

We may not realize it at the time at that person is our hero, but looking back, most of us have four people who stand above the rest.

Tobolowsky reflected that Ramis turned out to be one of his four heroes, but he never got a chance to tell him before he died. (The interview is fantastic and he has some great stories and I encourage you to become a fan of the podcast.)

Of course, I immediately began to weed through my own memories and life to determine my own four heroes or if four was a good number. One person came to mind immediately. Hershael York, who I’ve written about here and interviewed is toward the top of that list.

He’s someone who, even though I had fallen, took the time to listen to me and care about me. And even though he has tremendous demands for his time, he has always been there for me. Even more significantly, when I needed it the most, he spoke words of truth to me – sometimes words that others were afraid to speak – words that formed my ministry to others.


 Then I had this thought – am I enough to be considered to be a hero to my own children? Or to others? Or have I messed it all up too many times?


My wife, Allison is my hero. She has stood beside me, encouraged my voice, given me help, love and support and seen the worst of me. And she loves me because of it all. I cannot imagine my life without her.

But then, I started struggling a bit. I was ambushed by a flurry of thoughts. Probably like you’re struggling if you’re thinking through this at all.

For instance, I started thinking about my mom. Is she a hero? Well, yes. But she’s greater than just a hero. She was my mom. She was the first person who ever loved me and she always believed in me. She never gave up on me. So, is it trite to call her just a hero?

Then I started thinking about friends I’ve had who have come and gone. They’ve all made big impacts, but none have really been heroes. And I guess that’s okay.

Then I had this thought – am I enough to be considered to be a hero to my own children? Or to others? Or have I messed it all up too many times?

Man, one podcast episode really messed me up.

But then I started taking deep breaths and realizing I was making the same mistake I had made my entire life. The same mistake my own mother had warned me of at least once a week: “Son, not everything is about you.

She was right. That’s why I miss having her around. It was nice to be reminded by her of how humble I needed to be (which was regularly). She lived the message she was trying to send to me. Here was a woman who had written eight books, been published by numerous Christian magazines, been a public speaker for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and many other things. But she never showed an ounce of arrogance.

She didn’t care about getting noticed. That little shred of DNA didn’t get passed down to me for some reason. It was enough for her to serve others and love what she was doing. And she tried to instill that in me regularly.

You know what? I think that makes Mom two things. A great mother and a hero. She can be both.

_____________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

 

Fallen Pastor Is Back

Posted by fallenpastor | Posted in blog | Posted on 08-05-2015

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I have no idea what happened…computersmash

But you may have noticed my blog was down for a few days. WordPress has had a few security issues the last few days. I called my friend Tom Jamieson to help me get this thing back up and he spent some time on it. I even had my hosting people working on it.

This morning I was so frustrated so I just started poking around. I was hoping I wouldn’t erase everything and that I’d get lucky. I did.

So I’m back after a short break (which I probably needed). Thanks for being there. I’ve had a few posts swimming around in my head that I need to get out. Love you all.

What Are We To Think of “The Other Woman”?

Posted by fallenpastor | Posted in adultery, affair, other woman | Posted on 30-04-2015

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adulteryI recently wrote a blog giving advice to “the other woman.” You know, the woman caught in adultery. The woman the pastor has an affair with. The mistress. But what should we think of “the other woman”?

I’ve never liked any of those terms. I guess it’s because I was a pastor and married the woman I had an affair with. I could say, “We shouldn’t tag people with names according to their sin.” But I’d be a hypocrite since the name of my blog is “fallen pastor.” That, and Scripture accordingly tags us according to the sins we are habitually committing – “murderer, liar, etc.”

When we use terms to describe people, we are speaking of their sin. When we start speaking of people, we begin to take the role of judge. When we speak of an “adulterer” to describe the person’s sin, we should always remember that there is hope for that person to repent and turn to Christ. When they do, they’re no longer an adulterer in God’s eyes, they are a forgiven person, cleansed by the righteousness of Christ.

With that said, what are we to think of “the other woman”?

Let me begin by telling you about what the relationship looks like before the pastor and the other woman get caught. He’s told her that he’s never met anyone like her. He’s told her that she listens to him and his wife doesn’t. He’s told her that he wants to leave his church and family for her. He has pledged his undying love for her. He may actually feel that way or he may just think he feels that way. Either way, they are in their own world of forbidden love.

Then, they get caught.

Next, one of two things usually happen if the pastor doesn’t leave his family for her. First, the pastor gets caught and tells the church leadership that it wasn’t a physical affair or as serious as it looks in order to save his family and ministry. He tells the church leaders everything they want to hear so he can save some face. In doing so, the leadership demand he stops seeing her.

When this happens, the leadership will tell him to sever all contact with her and often, the leaders will contact her (especially if she’s a staff or church member) and tell her to leave the church. They will tell her to never step foot in the church again. She might be asked to tell her story, but usually, she isn’t. Eventually, the story is passed around and the pastor’s version of events are told and the membership gets mad at her for “seducing” the pastor.

The second thing that happens is that the pastor falls and tells the church leadership and his wife everything. As in the first case, the leadership tells him to stop contacting her, they ask her to leave and the pastor repents and attempts to reconcile with his wife.

In just a few cases I’ve seen over the years, churches have reached out to the “other woman” to help her. But I’ve only seen that in about two otherwom4cases in 200.

Let’s be clear. Both the pastor and this woman have sinned. Both have committed adultery. Both are guilty of the sin. In just about every case I’ve seen, the pastor had a higher moral responsibility to stop the situation from going anywhere. But often, when the sin comes to the surface, it’s easier to place the blame on the “temptress.”

I think that this is a very unfair balance for several reasons.

First, there is a moral failure within every human heart that only Christ can address. When we open ourselves to the possibility of sin, stop actively seeking Christ, and cease fellowship with believers of like mind, our hearts begin to wander.

Second, when moral failure occurs within the church, all aspects need to be addressed. Attempting to restore (or ignore the sins of) a pastor while sending out another member of the faith is inconsistent with our call to restore any of those within our fellowship (Galatians 6:1). Of course, the call to restore should be consistent with the desire for repentance on the part of those who sin. But when a person is cast out without even the offer of help, counseling, or guidance, the restoration cannot even begin.

Third, when “the other woman” is cast out, despite her sin, she is in the midst of confusion and needs a tremendous amount of support. Yes, she has sinned greatly. Yes, she has dug her own hole. Yes, she has committed adultery with the pastor. But at the moment of the fallout, how should the community of faith respond to her?

What are we to think of “the other woman”?

One of the most painful things for the church is that this woman has taken away the pastor who has led them and loved them for a long time. It’s hard for many people to feel anything but angst for the person who by their actions, took away their spiritual leader and hurt the pastor’s wife. So, it’s understandable if they don’t want to restore such a person to Christ. It’s understandable if the church leadership just wants to put her away from their sight.

But this is what makes the community of faith different, isn’t it? I’ve spoken with a lot of “other women” who have said, “the pastor told me he loved me. He said he would leave his wife for me. He said we would be together forever. When we got caught, the leadership got so mean and told me to leave. People started gossiping and people who were once my friends are now acting terribly.”

upsetwomanI get what’s behind the church’s actions and feelings. Hurt. Anger. I get that the church membership and leaders are in a precocious position.

That’s when we have to ask what the Christ-like response would be. What are we to do when it’s hard to love? What are we to do when we are hurt by others in the worst possible way? How are we to respond when we are betrayed by someone we thought was a friend?

Christ knew the answer and lived it. He was betrayed several times and in horrible ways and forgave freely.

Now, our forgiveness might take longer to digest and actualize, but it’s something worthwhile to work toward. In the meantime, if we are part of a community of faith, we need to view “the other woman” as a fallen person, like we are. A person created in the image of God, like us. Someone worth fighting for, worth saving, worth restoration. A person who has fallen as far as they can and who needs the hand of a fellow believer.

And if we aren’t in a position at that moment to provide that hand, we have to be willing to find someone who can until we can open the door far enough to begin the process of forgiveness and restoration.

Next time: “How do we help the other woman?”

If you’re “the other woman” you might want to check out my wife’s blog and my book. Other articles:

Forgiving the Other Woman” by Rebeca Seitz, from Crosswalk.com

Questions About Affairs From The Other Woman by Anne Bercht” – these are letters a Christian seminar group gets from “other women.” It’s an insight to the problems they suffer and they’re just like the problems we hear about, showing that these women need help.

_____________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

My Own Stupid Self-Righteousness

Posted by fallenpastor | Posted in Christ, self-righteousness, sin | Posted on 17-04-2015

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Sometimes I really think I’ve got it all figured out.

selfrighWhen I look back on my pastoring days before my fall, I realize that I was very judgmental and had a streak of self-righteousness. To be fair, I did have some times when I was very caring and non-judgmental. But there were times when I wandered into the harshness of Pharisee-ism.

The danger of examining self-righteousness in our lives is this – we are never a really good judge at it. We are, at best, a subjective, sinful, measure of ourselves and will typically mark ourselves highly on the “Oh, I don’t judge people/I don’t look at the speck in other’s eyes before getting the plank out of my own eye/I’m not terribly self-righteous” scale.

I preached last Sunday at a local church about self-righteousness. I mentioned to the congregation that the topic was difficult to preach on because we are all guilty of it. There I was, a fallen pastor, sharing with them the dangers of self-righteousness when I had been guilty of it on a grand scale.

As this week has progressed, I’ve had some intimate conversations with God about self-righteousness. I really thought I was okay in that area.

I’ve been doing this ministry for over five years, helping people that others don’t want to help. I don’t judge the people who contact me. I love them through their problems. Where’s the self-righteousness in my life?

It’s right in front of me. God slowly began to show me and expose my tendency toward it.


What allows a fallen, chronically self-righteous pastor to be able to preach and have a ministry? Because I know no matter who I’m talking to – I know that it’s not about me. It’s about Christ and who he is and the sin he came to save us from.


One of the real issues I’ve always had in my ministry is this: I get really upset about pastors who I call “serial adulterers.” What I mean is this – I usually deal with guys who have messed up once. They’ve sinned, cheated and it’s over. They need restoration.

But there’s also pastors out there who cheat and get away with it. They do it again. Then again. They do it without concern for their families, their churches or for God. I rarely get contacted by pastors in this situation. It infuriates me.

Then God just slapped me upside my self-righteous head. I’m not as good as I think. That could be me.

There is nothing good about me or within me to keep me from being the same way. I have the same sinful tendencies as anyone else. I could fall again and be that person that I have such strong feelings against.

When I was in seminary and they were telling us about adultery and selfrigh2protecting ourselves, I’d think, “That’s not going to happen to me.” I even thought that when I pastored. Stuff like that didn’t enter my thinking. But it did happen. And I fell. And I’m stupid to think it couldn’t happen again, just because it happened once and just because I’m helping others.

What’s to keep it from happening again? Prevention. Support from others. A strong marriage. Dedication to Christ. Mentoring and support from other believers.

When the conviction of God hit me this week, this was my thought process, “Ray, you really thought you were so amazing because you had done certain things to stay ‘pure.’ But it’s not about you. If you don’t stay close to Christ and keep vigilant, you could fall again.” (I’m pretty sure no one would read a blog called “The Twice Fallen Pastor.”)

What allows a fallen, chronically self-righteous pastor to be able to preach and have a ministry? Because I am able to point to the Christ who is perfect and was able to proclaim the words about judgment and self-righteousness without sin. Because he was the one who reached down to the pit my sin led me to and he rescued me from it.

Because I know no matter who I’m talking to – fallen pastor, hurt church, fallen pastor’s wife, the other woman, judgmental pastor, angry church member, anonymous commenter – I know that it’s not about me. It’s about Christ and who he is and the sin he came to save us from.

What I’ve learned in five years is pretty simple. It can happen to anyone. That’s what I tell pastors. But what I’ve learned recently is this – even after we fall and are restored back to Christ, we still have a way to go. We still need to be vigilant and focused. None of us are above sin. When we start to feel like we’ve arrived – we need to do some accounting.

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Pastors In Trouble: What Can Be Done?

Posted by fallenpastor | Posted in church, church leadership, culture, fallenness, pastors | Posted on 14-04-2015

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fallingWe’ve been looking at the current crisis facing the church today – pastors are falling at an alarming rate. Many are feeling tremendous pressure, conflict, and other forces that they are leaving the ministry, committing adultery and some are committing suicide.

In summary, what can be done?

Associations, denominational leaders, bishops, and state leadership groups need to be intentional about the situation. I get the feeling that “at the top,” the feeling is that the local church needs to be handling the situation. That’s true – when a pastor falls, it’s the responsibility of the local church to handle the situation as they see fit.

But there needs to be some type of help from groups higher up the chain. Those groups need to be equipped to provide help if asked for it. It’s important for them to suggest guidelines on how to handle the fallen pastor situation. Even more important is understanding the root problem and helping prevent it.

Also, local church leaders, elders, and deacons need to be aware of how fragile their pastor is. Are they aware of the hours he’s working? What is churcholdtheir impression of how stressed he is? When was the last time the pastor had a real vacation? Has he had any recent crisis events? Are the church leaders doing all they can when conflict arises to stand by the pastor and help fix the situation?

Church leaders also need to be aware of how demanding pastoral ministry is. Any pastor can fall. Any minister can be weakened to a place where he will want to quit the church. Unfortunately, many pastors are so good at hiding their stress and frustration that their departure will come as a surprise. There are many good books and resources on helping the pastor and understanding him. But one of the best things to do is just talking to him.

What can the church do? I have argued more than once that today’s church is not what it was designed to be. The modern church looks more like a club where religious people attend on Sunday than a community of faith that can transform lives.

When people can be part of something and be real, open their hearts to one another on daily basis by sharing themselves through prayer and through the Word of God, it will be a community where everyone – including the pastor – can be real. It will be a community not driven by programs, numbers, budget or power groups – but a group of people gathered for the glory of Christ and consumed with loving each other.

What can the pastor do? He can start by remembering where he began. God called him – a foolish, weak man. He didn’t call him to the ministry because he was a good-looking, amazing speaker. He called him because he was a willing vessel. He just wants us. He wants our brokenness.

pastorofficeAt some point, all of us tried doing too much. We thought in our effort, we needed to do something better. And when we did, we let pride in the door.

One day, we found ourselves in an office, surrounded by books, with less time to pray, with too many commitments, with a ton of programs, and less time for Christ.

When I tell people that pastors are in trouble today more than ever before, I don’t mean the guys who have already fallen. I mean the guys who don’t think they’re in trouble. I mean the guys who think they’re okay. The guys who have convinced themselves that even though they’re stressed, burned out, working too hard, whose marriages aren’t as good as they used to be, who are unhappy at the core – those are the guys who are in trouble.

Because on the inside while they are hurting – on the outside they keep telling everyone that “everything is fine.”

Want to leave a comment? Click the “keep reading” button and join the conversation.

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

The Church and the Kid With the Poopy Pants

Posted by fallenpastor | Posted in church, community, culture | Posted on 10-04-2015

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My lovely wife, Allison was listening to some syndicated radio show diaper a while back. The hosts were talking about something that happened at church to one of them:

Female host: “I was in church for Easter and a family with a two year old sat next to me. The two year old was very disruptive. He was throwing Legos on my Bible. He was very disruptive. After a while, he pooped his diaper and it was very smelly. I thought about getting up and moving, but then I thought, ‘I wouldn’t want her to think I was moving because of her. That might offend her.’”

Male host: “Yeah, she was rather bothersome. You did have reasons to move, but to get up and move would have been offensive.

Okay. So, my wife and I discussed this for about twenty minutes.

She had a point. Her point was that people who visit church should be able to control their children and take them out if they are disruptive. If they have a poopy diaper, they should take them out and change them.


“Does the mainstream church really want people who aren’t like them? Do they really want the unwashed, poopy-diapered kids in the world?  Or do we want people like us? Do we want people to conform to our ways? “


My point was this – “What if this was the only time this family came to church in three years? What if they are ‘unchurched’? They don’t know how to act in church, they don’t know what to do and they are just there because they just think it’s the right thing to do?

I started thinking. Does the church at large really want the unchurched in the church? Statistics usually show that 80% of the population isn’t in church. Do we really want them? They don’t act always like those in church, they don’t talk like those in church and when they do show up, they bring their kids with poopy diapers.

Does the mainstream church really want people who aren’t like them? Do they really want the unwashed, poopy-diapered kids in the world? Do they really want the below-average, low-income, low-ACT scored people of the world? Or do we want people like us? Do we want people to conform to our ways? People to act like us?

family05I remember when I was pastoring I had a guy who I will call Jim. He showed up every Sunday in flip-flops and shorts. He just loved the preaching. He loved being part of a church. I loved having him there. Several members didn’t care that he didn’t act or conform to Sunday standards. He made some very uncomfortable. It begs the question – do the church people really want the unchurched in church?

When the young couple shows up to church and they have a kid who is disruptive, do we really want them there? What is our reaction? Do they fit the mold of our normative church?

Jesus went out and found the completely strange people of the world. He found the lepers and brought them in. He got the tax collectors, the adulterers. He sought the outright sinners in society. He even went after a Pharisee. What are we seeking after? When we are doing evangelism, are we looking for people like us, or are we seeking after people who are like what Christ sought after?

How would Jesus have reacted to a set of poopy diapers?

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.