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Pastoral Adultery Doesn’t Happen Overnight

“Our pastor committed adultery! How did this happen?” If I’ve heard this once since I fell from ministry, I’ve heard it a thousand times. When a pastor falls, it is a shocking thing to the church and community. People’s emotions range from shock then to anger in a matter of days. “How could...

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Fallen Pastors and Divorce

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, Allison, conflict, culture, divorce, fallenness, forgiveness, grace, Hershael York, marriage, reconciliation, relationships | Posted on 25-04-2014

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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 true 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 four 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 effect 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.

The Danger of this Website

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, Allison, forgiveness, Hershael York, holiness, marriage, pastors, relationships, temptation | Posted on 23-08-2013

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RAY-1I love my ministry to fallen pastors. Not a week goes by that I don’t get an email from a man who has fallen and needs help. Whether it’s a man who has fallen from ministry, a church whose pastor who has fallen or a wife whose husband has fallen. I put everything I have into helping them.

But I need to make sure something is absolutely clear.

When I fell four years ago, I fell in love with a woman who was a member of my congregation. She was my wife’s best friend. You can read all about it in my book. We are now married. The details are all there. It is in the past. God has forgiven that sin. We have moved on.

Here is my concern, though. I don’t want people coming here thinking I will condone the sin of adultery. I will not. In my book, with the help of my friend Hershael York, I mark out the stages a fallen pastor goes through. In my experience, all fallen pastors go through these stages in some degree: Justification, Anger, Fighting against God, Defensiveness, Repentance, Brokenness and Restoration. There are many more stages, but if you really want to know what a pastor goes through and how he got there, the book is required reading.

What I don’t want is fallen pastors coming here and thinking that I’m going to tell them that adultery is okay. It’s not.

Let me tell you what happened to me. After my former wife and I had a breaking point and discovered that restoration between us was not going to happen (for a myriad of reasons – many of them my own fault), I still had to face God.

It was a weekday. I was months after my fall. I was angry at people for not accepting me for what had happened and the fact that they had not forgiven me. I was justifying my lifestyle.

One night, in despair, grief, and in shame over what I had done, God spoke to me. This is very typical for fallen pastors affairwho come to a place of repentance and recovery. I can’t exactly tell you what happened. Nor can the other men who I have talked to who have committed adultery. What I can tell you is this – remember when Jonah ran from God? He had him swallowed by a giant fish.

When a pastor sins, God is patient, but he will find you. He will break you down to your sinful heart and demand you listen to him. That happened to me. It was very personal. For other fallen pastors I have spoken to, it was very personal for them as well. It was the day that I began my walk back on the road to holiness. It was the day I stopped blaming everyone else for my problems and started saying, like David, “Against you, God, and you alone, have I sinned.”

It was a devastating experience.

But it had to happen. Immediately after it happened, God showed me grace. Grace like I have never known. I was lifted out of the dungeon of guilt, despair and self-inflicted wounds and made whole again. He made me worthy of a child of His. Why? I don’t know. I guess because He’s God. But also because He is full of love and grace.

Pastors, I want to share with you a quote from my book that Dr. York gave to me about women we are tempted by:

“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.”

The affair is a mystical journey you go on. It’s when you find someone who understands you for who you are. It’s someone who understands you for who you are. It’s someone who understands you better than your wife or your congregation. At the end of it, though, you will find yourself with another wife, if that’s how it ends up.

adulteryGuess what? If you don’t fix what was wrong with YOU in your first marriage, you won’t succeed in your second. I read a statistic once that only 2% of marriages built upon affairs last. Yup.

Let me make something clear. My wife Allison and I are wonderfully happy. But we are not the standard. Guess what the standard is? Choosing a wife who God leads you to and making it work out.

I fear many people come to me wanting me to tell them that adultery is okay. It’s not. It is a sin. It is grievous to God. It is outside the laws of God and it is sin. “But Ray, you did it.” Yeah, and I will pay the consequences for it for the rest of my life.

Do I love my wife? Absolutely. Do we have tough days? Sure. Do we pay consequences? You better believe it. But listen, pastor: Running off with someone else is not the cure. Understand that there are factors that are making you look in the first place – church conflict, poor relationship with your spouse, people placing too high expectations upon you, isolation, etc.

Don’t go looking or have a relationship with a woman unexpectedly show up to cure your ills. Get me? There are men who are happy, sure. Like me. But we are not the Scriptural standard by which you should measure your life by. Wake up and allow God to do a work in your life.

I am here to help you. Night or day. Leave a comment with your contact information – I won’t post it. I will contact you. Or email me by clicking here. There is a dangerous culture out there that is looking to feed upon your soul and the soul of your family. Please get help. Please. Let me and people I know help.

The Best Father’s Day Present I Ever Got (Gift Idea!)

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Allison, daughters, fathers | Posted on 12-06-2013

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I’m not a huge fan of the “parent’s days.” For one big reason. The cliché t-shirt that says, “World’s Best Dad/Mom.” (Check the link).

Really? There’s a big problem with that shirt. The company/companies that make them make thousands. So, there can’t be more than one “World’s Best Dad/Mom.” So, I propose if you wear that shirt, you automatically get on a list where you have to enter the octagon against everyone else wearing the shirt. Kinda like a WWF Royal Rumble. Last one left standing is the “World’s Best Mom/Dad.”

Also, we can do away with everyone posting on Facebook, “I have the best mom in the world!” Unless we can get some kind of understanding that everyone is saying in their minds at the end of the sentence, “to you, maybe.”

Alright, enough cynicism. I have a heart. So I’d like to tell you about the best Father’s Day gift I ever received. My wife Allison thought of it and along with my girls, put it together a couple of years ago. I was going through a rough patch at the time. Who am I kidding? I suffer from depression and anxiety and have rough patches somewhat frequently. So they thought they’d help.

Here is what they came up with:

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It’s a jar filled with little pieces of construction paper that have little things the girls wrote on them.

Like this:

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Or this:

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Why yes. Yes I am.

I like this one that Abigail did. Really artsy with a Star Wars theme:

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It was really cool. It’s especially cool since I don’t always have the girls with me. I miss them terribly and sometimes I just need a pick me up. So I reach into the jar and grab a slip of paper. The best part? I haven’t made it all the way through the jar yet.

So, if you’re looking for an idea besides a lousy t-shirt for dad, this might work. And I hope everyone has a:

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Post update: I wrote this a year ago. A great thing about this gift? The girls add to it every year. It’s still sitting on my shelf and there when I need that little pick-me-up. Sometimes, it just makes me smile when I see it.

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.

My Wife’s New Post: Does Someone Like Me Deserve to Be Happy?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Allison, blog, Uncategorized | Posted on 07-05-2013

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Check out Allison’s new post on her blog: “Does Someone Like Me Deserve To Be Happy?”

Great insight. And I’m proud of the things she’s doing over there. She’s been able to help a lot of people. Click on over if you have a free minute.

__________________

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.

Allison, My Wife, My Inspiration

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in affirmation, Allison, blog, marriage | Posted on 29-03-2013

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I was overwhelmed Wednesday by the reception I received from my blog post called, “Gay Marriage, the Church, and Fallen_Pastor_Blog-1024x815the Christ Response.” All the feedback I got was amazing and it was from both sides of the aisle. The post wasn’t really about gay marriage, but about how we should love as Christ loved.

I say that to say this – I wasn’t going to post anything about it, but my lovely wife Allison, had said something to me several times during the evening after I had received a Facebook inbox message asking me my opinion about it. After she had mentioned it, the lights came on about 2:00 in the morning and I started writing.

It ended up being the most viewed blog post I had ever written. I was kinda dumbfounded about the whole thing and I asked her why she thought it had done so well. She said, “You know how people were always trying to trap Jesus and he never answered the way they wanted him to? You answered the question perfectly.”

I don’t think I was worthy of a Jesus comparison, to be sure. But I got what she was saying. More than that, I cannot emphasize how much I love and appreciate my wife. She is my biggest fan. She said, “I just want people to read this post. I want the world to see it.”

She’s always like that. Whether I’m writing, counseling a fallen pastor, working, or whatever, she’s encouraging me.

DSC_0355Lately, I haven’t been living up to my potential, I think. She’s been honest with me about that. She knows that God has something better for me and she’s told me so. I love that about her too.

We always say that when one of us is down, the other one always seems to be up and able to help the other one. We fit so well together and I’m blessed to have her in my life.

I’m at a point where God is using me in a different way and to do a different type of ministry. I’m very thankful that I have a God who doesn’t give up on His people or His pastors when they fall.

I’m also thankful to have Allison at this time. A woman who I could not live without right now. A woman who understands this ministry I am engaged in to help those who fall, who understands my frustrations, my limitations, my pain, my grief and constantly puts up with me in spite of my glaring imperfections.

I’m proud of her for getting her blog up and going again. In her own right, she is ministering to a whole group of people I cannot reach. I know many times she thinks she is incapable or unworthy but she is amazing at what she does. Her heart is amazing and I am very proud of her.

The road that has led us to where we are now has been difficult, but it has also been rewarding. But I am glad I have been blessed by God with Allison.

My Wife’s New Web Site: Fallenpastorswife.com

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Allison, blog | Posted on 19-03-2013

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My wife, Allison, has a new website for her blog – www.fallenpastorswife.com. She really has a heart for women who are in relationships/have been in relationships with pastors or those otherwise effected.

She’s gotten back into blogging and has received a lot of good feedback and appreciates it. Thank you for your support. She’s a great listener and encourager. I know I wouldn’t have survived without her.

She works so hard all week at her job but finds time to write to encourage others. It’s a good reminder that no matter where we find ourselves, no matter how weary or tired, God will find a way to use us. Keep up the good work sweetie.

__________________

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 Wife, “Fallen Pastor’s Wife” & Her Ministry

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, Allison, blog, love, marriage | Posted on 14-03-2013

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Allison is my sweet wife of three years. We have both tread the path of holiness since our fall, trying to do what is right. Are we always perfect? Nope. But we are here to serve those who fall.

A while back she started a blog. It’s been inactive a while, but today, she wrote again, to tell our story.

If you are “the other woman,” or someone who just wants to understand, just follow this link. She wants to share her heart. Thanks. 

Anger And My Fall From Ministry

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, Allison, anger, book, conflict, fallenness, Jonathan Brink, marriage, mom, pastors | Posted on 19-07-2012

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This book can help you. But hear me out first. There was a stuggle that went before it. I was angry.

At least I was about this time three years ago. I had been caught in adultery. Man, was I angry. At a lot of people. And it was everyone’s fault.

I was angry at the head deacon. I went to him and explained to him what happened. Can you imagine that he was disappointed in me? Unbelievable! That he was disappointed that I would have comitted adultery after eight years of faithful service! What gives him the nerve? To kick me to the side like that?

I was angry. Pastor angry. Like the type of anger parishoners don’t know their pastors get.

More anger to come. From pastors in the area. Lord, help me. I had dozens of pastor friends in the area whom I had gone to seminary with and they had suddenly abandoned me! I had been kicked out of my parsonage and had to move to a rental home in Greenville, Kentucky, covered with cobwebs, and with a ghetto chouch. They didn’t care. Only two pastors and a director of missons reached out. No one cared. I take that back. The only friends I had suddenly were Mormons who were suddenly very friendly. And I was angry. People hated me. Guess whose anger it was? It was all mine. All the sin and anger belonged to me.

In the past two years, my estranged father had died. My mother, who had become my prayer warrior and primary support had been killed in a car accident. What was God doing to me? I had nothing left! The church was in an upheaval! I had nowhere to turn! Life was spinning out of control and I was a mess. And I found the love of my life.

Anger set in. It set in towards those who once had sat next to me in church. They were disappointed in me and my actions. I was alienated from them forever, I felt. I was the fallen pastor. I was an outcast. A sinner.

I began to call fallen pastors across the country. Do you know what they told me? “You’ll never reconcile with your former congregation, so give it up. You’ll never reconcile with your former congregation.” But I didn’t believe them. I was able to in many ways.

Guess what I did? I wrote a letter to them. It wasn’t well written. It was written with pride and I wish I could take it back.

Then, I sought real counsel. I began to blog. Anonymously. Through the name of Arthur Dimmesdale, I told my story online, anonymously. People responded. I told my story and what I had been through. Many people called me out on my sin and I listened. I heard them.

One day, I posted a blog about writing. A publisher came by and asked me if I would be interested in writing. I said I would. I wrote an essay under my pseudonym. Then, I wrote my book. I was overcome with thoughts about my mother who had written eight books on Christian topics. I wasn’t fit to fill her shoes.

I interviewed many fallen pastors, like myself. All of our stories were the same. We were isolated, stressed out, had intimacy issues with our spouses, and had been placed on a pedestal. What if the problems fallen pastors faced were a cultural issue? What if they can be prevented? I felt that there was hope to help others. So with Civitas Press and my editor, Jonathan Brink, I wrote a book.

I was still angry, but at whom? My ex-wife? No. She hadn’t done anything wrong. She and I get along wonderfully now. We agreed that on some level, we were both are fault. What about the church? I could get mad at the church, but pastors today face problems in churches that are worse than what I ever faced. What was I really angry at?

I was angry with myself. My inability to be something I wasn’t. I wasn’t able to meet people’s needs – the needs I thought I should be meeting. I thought I should be super pastor. I thought I was something I wasn’t. I wasn’t perfect and I hated myself for it. And at the end of it, I just wanted out.

When I look at pastors who cry for help, there are different kinds. I talk to many of my pastor friends today who are frustrated with ministry. They say that their families are suffering because of the ministry. Some get into embezzlement, pornography, or depression. Each of those men get help and are rehabilitated back into the ministry. But the pastors who really, really want out commit adultery. Those are the men who want out of the ministry. Out of it for good. I wanted out. And I got out. God help me.

But I will tell you this – three years later – I want to build a ministry for men who have fallen. I’m proud to say that I have a healthy relationship with my ex-wife. I have a great realationship with my current wife. I am able to minister to fallen pastors, their wives, and churches. God is not done with me quite yet.

Friends, what I’m saying is that our anger is a dead end. Our anger eventually finds itself at our own front door. Banging there. Incessantly. We can be as angry as we want with as many people as we want, but in the end, we are only angry at ourselves. Until we deal with the anger that we have within ourselves, we will never move forward. Good news? Christ has forgiven us. He has taken away the guilt for us. He has moved that anger away from us and set us free.

I have not been tossed upon the trash heap of society yet. I still stand here, waiting to be used by God as He sees fit. Angry? Yes. Angry at the sin that infiltrates our churches. Angry at the sin that is waiting at the door of our pastor’s studies. Angry at what pastors know is coming yet they turn a blind eye to it.

I’ve been there. And I have a batallion of men beside me who know the same. Don’t let it happen to you or your pastor. Ministry can weaken a ministry marriage. It can kill it. Be on the lookout for isolation, decreased time with your wife, high expectations, and conflict. Don’t let it weaken you to the point of ministry failure. Don’t become a statistic. Please. Reach out before it is too late.

The ministry is supposed to work to help the church, brighten your marriage and bring light to the world. Make sure it is doing all of those things. If it isn’t, seek help from a mentor, a counselor or a friend. Get help now.

__________________

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.

What Goes Into a Book

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Allison, book, thanks | Posted on 03-01-2012

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Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World has officially been out for a whole day now. I want to take a moment to thank some people who made it happen. Without them, this project wouldn’t have been what it was. They’re not in any particular order, just as they come to mind.

Thanks to Jake Larson, co-founder of Fireproof Ministries. He gave me a lot of quotable material and he graciously wrote the foreword for the book.

Mark Roberts, Hershael York, Bill Leonard, Roger Barrier, Steve Reed, Rodney Cox, David Trotter, Michael Todd Wilson, and Kailla Edger are all names you should get to know if you don’t already know them. Each of them allowed me time for an interview and most of them I quoted profusely in the book.

Thanks to the men I interviewed for the book who were fallen like I was. Each was at a different stage, but they each opened up to me immediately, even though they didn’t know me. We each shared a common bond and experience. I learned much from them.

Thanks to my editor, Jonathan Brink, who gave me great insight, guidance and support. He is a joy to write for.

To all of my blogging and Twitter friends who have followed me since before I had a book offer. You know who you are and I love you dearly. Thank you for being there for me. I wish we weren’t separated by miles, but am thankful we can still communicate via electricity.

To my hometown friends in Russellville. You’ve been very supportive and I really appreciate that. Russellville is and always will be my home and I miss it dearly.

To my children, thank you for loving your daddy. You were the first to forgive me and you’ve always believed in me.

Allison, I love you with all I have. You’ve seen my best and worst yet you stand by me. It’s been a journey and it’s only just begun.

____________________

Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World is available at Amazon.com. It will be available soon at other outlets. Ask your local bookstore about availability.

Finding Restoration in a Broken World

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, Allison, book, Christ, church, compassion, culture, fallenness, forgiveness, God, hope, journey, ministry, pastoring, pastors, reconciliation, sin | Posted on 02-01-2012

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Today is the official release date for my book, Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.

I’ve got a thousand different emotions going on and a lot of things I want to blog about, but today, I want to take a moment to write about the basic idea of the book.

I fell from the pastorate two years ago when I committed adultery. There were a lot of factors that led to my fall that are common among other pastors. Unrealistic expectations, isolation from friendships, declining relationship with spouse, church conflict and major tragedy. In the end, it was my decision to sin. I’ve discussed that a lot on this blog.

Today, I stand in amazement, though. I’ve found restoration.

Two years ago, I hit rock bottom. I thought God wasn’t listening and I was sure He didn’t care about me. I felt like a failure as a pastor (before and after I fell), I had lost both parents in separate accidents within a year of each other, and I had no one to talk to. In fact, I was pretty sure God had it in for me.

There were days long before I even contemplated adultery that I stood in the pulpit with a smile on my face, tie on properly, shirt pressed, but with a dark, hardened heart. Then the fall came. During the months after, I was sure no one would ever speak to me again. I was sure the stain of sin would be a mark that could never be removed. I was sure that shame would be my constant companion for the rest of my miserable life.

Slowly, repentance came. I discovered that truly, God is a longsuffering and patient God. If He were not, I would have been a grease stain on the carpet of my former church a long time ago. He waited for me when I would not wait for Him.

After I sinned, I had few people who would speak to me, but the ones who remained were the right ones. They encouraged me, loved me and walked with me. I had two close friends who were patient, sometimes firm, but always loving. I reached out to fallen pastors throughout the country who were in various stages of their own fall. They each encouraged me, told me the truth and prayed with me.

My new wife Allison and I also went through a process during that time as well. She watched me as I went from angry to depressed to anxious to humbled.

Those months were terrible, yet redeeming. They are etched in my mind and will stay with me forever. They were necessary for God to break me and make me into something usable.

Very few are willing to reach out to a fallen pastor. It’s something I ponder in the book. A lot of people don’t know what to say to him. Some people think they might be “guilty by association” if they speak to him. Typically, he is cast out, never to be heard from again.

At some point, God grabbed me and said, “I’m not done with you. I have plans for you, but I’m going to humble your proud heart in the process.” He did. And He continues to do so.

When I speak of restoration, I don’t mean restoration to the pulpit. I don’t even mean restoration to the ministry. I just believe that fallen pastors need to be shown compassion and love. They need people to walk with them, to show them the way to brokenness and repentance. It’s important because even a pastor can’t always find the right path, even though we think they should know the way.

I recently joined a ministry team, Fallen Pastors (www.fallenpastors.com) who help pastors who are contemplating sexual sin or who have already fallen. They have a small staff, but do their best to answer every email. If you are a fallen pastor or are in trouble, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. It can become isolated, it can feel like you’re alone. But you’re not.

This book isn’t about me. It’s not about my glorification. It’s about the glory of God and restoring those who have fallen. There is a problem with the culture in which we live. The best thing about problems is that they are fixable. Together, with the compassion of Christ, we can fix people, we can fix cultures and we can find restoration in this broken world.

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Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World is available at Amazon.com. It will be available soon at other outlets. Ask your local bookstore about availability.