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I got a call the other day from a pastor friend of mine who told me that Angel Falls has finally called a new pastor. Almost a year and a half after my fall, they’ve finally filled the pulpit. He gave me the details and told me the guy had some pastoral experience and came from a local church...

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Men Who Smell Like Pigs: Restoring Fallen Pastors

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in fallenness, forgiveness, pastors, reconciliation | Posted on 23-07-2014

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repentaI’ve been ministering to fallen pastors for over four years now through my book and this blog. It’s been a unique joy and blessing. Recently, I’ve been taking the stance that all churches, members and leaders need to be more involved with taking care of a pastor when he falls from the ministry due to sexual immorality. Even though these men smell like pigs.

Let me explain.

Today, I’m not going to give you reasons why we should because I’ve done that before. I want to share with you one of the most rewarding things that happens when you care for and pursue a fallen, sinful pastor – you get to see and share in his restoration.

And so you’ll know what I mean by restoration – I mean to be restored to Christ. Will a fallen pastor ever be restored to ministry? Can we restore the fallen pastor? That’s a different topic. When a man has fallen from the pulpit and sinned, he needs to focus on a right relationship with Christ first. Because his relationship with Christ went wrong way before his marriage or church relationship ever started failing.

There are two types of fallen pastors. Both guys typically get kicked to the curb by their churches. But the first type has a little bit of hope to get some help by his association or his church.

The first type is the pastor who gets caught red-handed. His sin is discovered and his is approached with it by his wife or leaders of the church. His response is an almost immediate desire to do what is right and repent. He may not have a heart full of repentance right away. He may still have lingering, sinful desires – but you have to remember his adultery went on for a while. But if he shows any signs of wanting to break free, he needs your help.

The first type reminds me of Peter when Christ restored him in John 20. Jesus asked him three times if he loved him and jesusandpetePeter answered three times that he did. “Lord, you know I love you.”

The tricky thing about a newly fallen pastor is that he may think he can fix himself. Any pastor who falls needs a group of people around him to help restore him, work through his sin and toward brokenness. I write about brokenness in my book and on this blog. It is essential that any man who has fallen from the pulpit come to a point where they understand the devastation their sin caused and run back to God. Dr. Hershael York helped me understand this point while I was working on my book.

If a man refuses to be guided by a group of other Christians or be accountable, that’s a huge red flag. I’ll be honest – in my experience and after talking to others who deal with fallen pastors across the country – restoration to Christ and true brokenness takes at least a year and possibly up to 18 months. God takes His time in dealing with the hearts of His people and I’m glad He does. He does it lovingly and patiently. But there does come a moment when he breaks us.

Of all the fallen pastors I’ve talked to who have been restored, most of them remember the day God broke them. They can remember the day their sin became real. It was part of a process. Most of those moments are very personal, but God does work on our hearts.

The second type of fallen pastor is the one hardly any church, association, other pastor, family member or denominational leader wants to deal with. It’s the pastor who commits adultery, won’t listen to anyone, gets a divorce from his wife and is gone. We need to be intentional about restoring fallen pastors. Now, there is typically more story in there that no one will ever hear or want to hear, but the bottom line is this – here is a guy who sinned, got kicked out of church and home, and no one wants to deal with him.

I believe we must reach this man too. I was this man. When these men email me, they have my full, undivided attention. Know why? Because I’ve noticed in this group, there is a trending rate toward self-abuse, depression and self-hatred. When is it okay to push a sinning pastor to the side and let him go?

I can’t do it. I don’t ever condone his sin, but I will forever be his friend. Know why? Because I believe that one day, God can and will do something to radically change his heart to restore the fallen pastor. And when he does, I don’t want that pastor to say, “No one in the church believes in me. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.

sonfatherI hate stretching parables out and making more of them than we’re supposed to, but I’m going to.

Imagine the prodigal son, who has wasted his father’s wealth and now finds himself among the pigs. He stinks like a pig. He is helpless and hopeless. The Bible says that the son “came to himself.” That is what happens to many fallen pastors after a period of weeks, months or years. I’ve seen it. They snap out of it.

Anyway, the pig-smelly son decides to go back to his father’s house and attempt to at least get a job there. But we all know what happens. His father runs to meet him, not welcoming him back as a second class citizen, but as his son. See, the father didn’t embrace him and say, “Boy, where have you been for the past twelve weeks? You smell like pig!” Regardless of where the son had been, or where he had been dwelling, or how he smelled, he was still his son.

Cue the rest of the parable (that never gets preached on) and we find the older brother who is angry. He’s angry because he’s always been there for dad. But dad decided to throw a party because they found the pig-smelling son who ran off and spent money. The older son is indignant. The father says, “Son, you should rejoice because what was once lost is now found.” No, the older brother isn’t having that. He’s angry. He’s always been there. His brother ran off like a little jerk. Now he comes back smelling like a pig and he gets a party.

Point? I love all the fallen pastors who come my way, regardless of how they smell. In fact, I don’t even notice the smell. I know eventually, God is going to grab hold of them and take care of them. Restoration to Christ is really God’s job, I just get to help facilitate that. And it’s an overwhelming joy and honor

But it should be happening in the communities where these men live. And I pray someday it will.

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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.

Would You Let King David Preach At Your Church?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in church, churches, fallenness, pastors, preaching, restoration | Posted on 21-07-2014

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delorean

“Quick, Marty, we need a supply minister. Let’s go get King David!”

Good question. Answer it quick. Right now. In your mind.

Yeah, it’s hypothetical. Would you let King David, if he were available right now – to preach one Sunday morning service in your church?

Yes. You would.

If you had hold of a DeLorean equipped with a flux capacitor, you would.

Why? Because he’s King David for crying out loud. Killed Goliath. Fought bears and lions. Was a man after God’s own heart. Heck, he fled when he knew he was the rightful man to be on the throne and was gracious to Saul. He loved his own son Absalom when Absalom wanted him dead. What a guy, right? Out of his lineage came our own Savior, Jesus Christ.

Oh, but wait. David has a mixed history. He had some wives. Some concubines. He committed murder and adultery.

I was talking to someone a while back that gave me some great insight on David. He said, “Despite David’s sin, he was always a man after God’s own heart. People would always judge him for his actions, but God always loved him for who he was.

David had struggle after struggle. Many of those struggles were his own fault. He sinned greatly, like many of the people we cherish in Scripture. Yet God showed them favor. Yet many pastors would allow David behind the pulpit to preach a sermon for one Sunday, wouldn’t we?

I ask that for an important reason. There are a lot of men who have fallen from the ministry. Since I fell almost five years ago, I have spoken to hundreds of them by text, email or phone. I have spoken to their wives, their church members or their families. I have referred them to others for help.

Some of them, like myself, did not reconcile with our first wife for whatever reason. Here’s a question, what wife was David supposed to reconcile with? Don’t hear me making a justification argument for my sin. I sinned. And I’ve made that very clear. Every fallen pastor I’ve dealt with and interviewed in my book takes complete blame for their sin.

But each man either reconciled with their wife or moved on. Even if they didn’t reconcile, they eventually found forgiveness from God and decided to walk a path of holiness from that point forward. The eggs had been broken and scrambled. There was nothing to be done.

Each of these men, like myself, had discovered that God is gracious beyond what we deserve. We don’t deserve to wake up in the morning. We don’t deserve God’s grace.

For the fallen pastor who has been restored, many of them have had a chance to tell their story from the pulpit. They’ve had a chance to preach or talk to a congregation. This isn’t the same as restoring them back to the pastorate – it’s giving them a chance to talk about the grace they’ve been shown and to talk about the grace and mercy of Christ.

The question is, “Would you let a fallen pastor who has been restored preach in your church?”

Since my fall and my restoration, I’ve had grace extended to me by several pastors. They have allowed me to preach. I’m not asking to be restored to the pastorate, but I was given grace to speak at their churches. Let me tell you what I discovered.

First, I found that my preaching was filled with more grace and love than I ever had when I was a pastor. Before my fall, I was more judgmental and harsh than I was after. After I fell, I preached from my heart, but still from the word, but with compassion for the hearts of the people.

Second, I found that people connected with someone who had fallen so far. People in the congregation want their pastor to be of high regard and of high moral standards. That’s the way it should be. When I spoke, I told them of the dangers of sin, the dangers of wandering from God, and my own story. I told them of the importance of holiness and how Christ loves us despite our sin.

What I’m saying is that inviting a restored fallen pastor into your pulpit isn’t much of a danger. In fact, it can be helpful to you and your congregation. Talk to him first, face to face. Find out what he has to say. Hear his story and his journey.

The first time I preached after my fall, I wasn’t sure what to think. But I preached on John 8, the woman caught in adultery. I was very clear about what I had done and about how awful sin is. But I also spoke about the compassion and forgiveness of Christ.

That Sunday, three people responded. One was a woman who had been committing adultery with a man for eight years. She broke it off that week and was baptized by the pastor the following week. The next was a visiting church deacon who confessed he had committed adultery. Finally, another deacon who wanted to talk to me about his adultery. I praise God for that. I had little to do with it.

I had someone say to me, “I love our pastor and I hear what he has to say, but your story touched me because you’ve been through it.

Almost every time I preach, I have people come up to me and say, “I need help. I’ve been where you were and I want help.

Friends, I don’t like the fact that I’ve been through it. But I’ve been forgiven. And I guarantee you that there are men around you that have stories to tell that can help those in your congregation.

Do we really believe that God works all things together for those who love Him? Pastors allow all kinds of people to share their testimonies, but it seems the ones we don’t allow are pastors who have committed adultery. The ones we want to kick off into the shadows and forget.

I’ll tell you this – I speak with fallen pastors every day. God has not forgotten them. They have sinned greatly. But God is not done with them. And their voices, once restored, can help many people in a great way.

Other helpful articles:

How To Prepare When You’re The Pulpit Supply” by Joan Huyser-Honig

Lessons Learned About Pulpit Supply” by Ed Eubanks

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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.

Dr. Heath Lambert on Preventing Moral Failure

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in counseling, fallenness, heath lambert, interview, pastors, prevention | Posted on 14-07-2014

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lambertI had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Heath Lambert recently and discussing several topics including temptation, biblical counseling, preventing ministry failure, and lust. Dr. Lambert is the assistant professor of Biblical Counseling at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s also the Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. He’s also author/co-author of several books, including “Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace.

Introduction

Dr. Lambert and I began by talking about statistics of fallen ministers and his impression of them:

The statistic I have heard for a long time is that one-fifth or 20% of ministers will leave the ministry due to some form of moral failure. Those empirical numbers are not what matter to me the most. What matters to me the most is when you’re sitting there talking to a man and his wife who have just been devastated from leaving the ministry or talking to a woman who has been involved with a pastor.

So the 20% is a big number but when I have people talking to me, that’s when I feel the real weight of it.

Preventing Ministry Failure

One of the most important topics that we discussed was how to help pastors prevent ministry failure. We discussed this idea for biblical counselors and it is also relevant for anyone in ministry. For that matter, all Christians should be aware of the situations and temptations that we face.

Dr. Lambert discussed two types of prevention. First, he discussed external prevention. Safeguards we can place on our lives to prevent failure. These include having accountability, having an open door policy, and having a right relationship with your wife.

Prevention for ministers and biblical counselors:

External Prevention

- Have an office with windows so others can look in

- Avoid long-term counseling with the opposite sex

1 Timothy 5 tells us to engage with women in ministry so I do meet and counsel women. I’m a woman’s pastor just as I am a man’s pastor. But it’s important to avoid ongoing counseling with the opposite sex. There’s a difference between ‘I’m going to meet with you a couple of times so I can find out what’s going on’ vs. meeting with a member of the opposite sex in an ongoing counseling relationship.

- Don’t meet with just one spouse for marriage counseling

One thing I say to people is, if you’re only meeting with the husband or wife by themselves, it’s not marriage counseling.

- Don’t meet with a woman without having another woman nearby

Dr. Lambert has an open door policy. He has a female staff member near the door who is aware of the counseling going opendooron. He recommends in a church setting having a staff member outside the door or having a woman sit in the counseling session with you.

- Keep your wife informed

As soon as you start being aware that you’re meeting with a woman and that you’re not telling your wife about it or you’re not telling her about things happening in the meeting, you need to know there’s a problem. I’m not talking about things that are privileged information either. Some things that happen in counseling situations that need to stay confidential. But there may be times when a person you’re counseling texts you or says something that you want to keep from your wife. If that’s happening, there is a problem.

- Listen to your wife

There have been four or five times when my wife has been more aware of situations of trouble that I might have been getting into than I was.” (Dr. Lambert and I agreed to call it women’s intuition). “She has seen things coming before I have. I have learned to listen to her and her wisdom. She is just a better judge of character than I am. She’s been right every time.

- Be an open book with your wife

My wife isn’t nosy. My email is just right there. She uses my phone. I’m not doing anything to hide from her. We live life openly and don’t have any secrets. There is one woman I have to make happy in the world and that’s my wife.

- Have others you are accountable to

There are four guys I am accountable to. They know everything about me. If they wanted to write a tell-all book about me, they could do it. These are guys I tell every struggle and thought to. Things I don’t even necessarily share with my wife first. I might share with them that I am struggling with lust or dishonesty. They help me to see weak spots and share things with me in the most honest and candid manner.

- Make your wife a point of conversation

“I’m not going out of my way to talk about her. I’m leading with my wife in conversation. She’s on my mind. The women that know me and work with me know that there’s no room in my life for them. Which is what they should think.”

Internal Prevention

External prevention is helpful, but for a Christian to avoid temptation and moral failure, it cannot end there. The soul must be on guard and a person’s relationship with Christ must be pursued along with personal holiness.

Dr. Lambert: “The reality is that you can do all those things and still commit adultery. You can put a window in your office door and still commit adultery. You can give up on your commitment to value your wife as soon as you meet a pretty girl in a restaurant out of town. You can create a private email or buy a second cell phone. You can give the appearance of having accountability if you want.

God is honest about the temptation, he’s honest about the fallout, but He doesn’t just talk about the forbidden woman . . . but He also talks about this perfect picture of your wife. That’s an invitation for us to fight, to treasure our wives.

The battle is won or lost at the level of our intentions. What do I intend to do with women? I think about that in a couple of ways. One thing I try to do is urge men to get close to Jesus. Nobody ever committed adultery or got found in some persistent problem with adultery when they were nurturing intimacy and closeness in their walk with Jesus Christ.

One of the things I am praying every single morning is ‘Jesus will you give me you? Will you make me like you? Will you give me passion for you?’ Because when Jesus is filling up your heart, he’s defining the categories of your heart. And he’s defining what there is and is not room for in your heart.

The Allure of Temptation

Dr. Lambert said he prayed for several things every day in his pursuit for Christ including purity and a better relationship with his wife. In doing so, a Christian is insulating themselves from lust but also turning their hearts toward their wives.

In Proverbs 5 and 7, there’s a sense in which the author is very honest about the forbidden woman. She’s very tempting. She’s got an attractive offer for you. Her husband is out of town, he’s not coming back for a month, she’s decorated her house, she’s put some perfume on, and come, let’s take our fill of love. She’s not telling you this is going to be the least thrilling thing you’ve ever done. She’s not saying, “everyone you know is going to find out, your ministry is going to be over.” She’s saying, “you’re going to have the time of your life.”

temptationIn Proverbs 5 and 7, God is very honest about seduction. But God is very honest that if you follow her, you’ll be like an ox led to the slaughter.

God is honest about the temptation, he’s honest about the fallout, but He doesn’t just talk about the forbidden woman, but back in the 20’s of Proverbs 5, He says ‘start thinking about your wife.’ He says, ‘let her breasts satisfy you. Rejoice in her love.’ So He gives you this true picture of this thing to fight against but He also talks about this perfect picture of your wife. That’s an invitation for us to fight, to treasure our wives.

Fighting Temptation By Focusing on Your Wife

You’ll hear some guys say when you’re looking at a woman with lust, ‘bounce your eyes.’ I want to do that, I want to look away, but I also want to bounce my heart. So, I’m trying to cultivate with discipline of bouncing my eyes, ‘no, not that,’ but to do more. And to think about what my wife does that makes me happy. Think about what she does that encourages me. Think about what I would like our life to be like in 30 years.

Another thing I’m doing is looking for opportunities to nurture the affections in my heart for her. So I have on my iPhone a set of songs that I will only listen to if I promise to only think about her. If I am feeling really frustrated with her, rather than just feel frustrated with her, I’ll plug my iPhone into the car and start thinking about my wife. We’re structured so music strikes a chord with our affections. So I’ll just listen to George Strait, “Carried Away,” and start thinking about my wife.

I also have five things about my wife that are awesome that I think about when I’m frustrated with her or if I’m tempted. These are things that are true of her that are true of no one else and they stir my heart.”

A Right Relationship With Other Women

The next thing is that in the 1 Timothy 5 sense it says we are to treat women with all purity. There are two relationships described in Scripture we are to have with women. The first is with our wives as described in Song of Solomon.

The other one is the sisterly relationship. I find that every time you look at a woman, every time you engage with a woman, you are making a choice about what’s going to motivate your looking at her. About what is going to motivate your interacting with her. Is my interaction with you, my conversation with you, my looking at you motivated by lust or some kind of desire to impress you to have this be something other than it is? Or is it motivated by loving you as a talkingsister with all purity?

I don’t have a sister, but I have a daughter. And I have affection for both. But the difference is daylight and dark between the types of affection. So I have a gut check when I have a conversation with another woman, I ask, ‘What’s motivating my looking at you?’ And if I’m aware that I’m motivated by something other than sisterly purity, then I know in that moment to say, ‘Lord, forgive me, give me grace to be motivated by sisterly purity as I engage with this woman.’

Having the Right Intentions

Those motivations are where the battle is won or lost. I’m for windows in the door and all that, they’re all important, but ultimately, if you’re not motivated by sisterly purity but by the lust of the eyes, then all of the windows, and accountability won’t matter.

But if you are motivated by sisterly purity and a woman is in a mind to commit adultery and there is no window in the door, you’re not going to fall in that moment. Why? Because you’ve spent time cultivating the idea, ‘you’re not for me, my wife is, and this wouldn’t honor Jesus.’

For pastors seeking to be educated and stronger in biblical counseling, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has distance and on-site learning classes available. For any church member looking to strengthen their counseling base, The Association of Biblical Counselors has weekend and other programs to train you to be effective in your congregation.

Other helpful links:

Interview with Heath Lambert on ‘Finally Free” by Grant Castleberry

Dr. Heath Lambert’s Testimony

Porn, Pride, and Praise: An Interview with Heath Lambert” by Desiring God

If you have been moved by Dr. Lambert’s words and need help, please take time to purchase his book, “Finally Free: Fighting for Purity With the Power of Grace.”

Special thanks to my friend and mentor, Dr. Hershael York, for making this interview possible.

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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.

5 Things Christians Can Do When A Pastor Falls

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, church members, fallenness, help, pastors | Posted on 09-07-2014

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reachingoutWhat should a church member do when a pastor’s sin is uncovered? The pastor’s sin could be anything ranging from adultery to embezzling. I’ve put together a few quick questions someone should ask in reference to a pastor’s sin and their own struggle with the issues.

1. How will I and my family react long term and short term? When a pastor falls or sins and is dismissed, the church member and each family typically goes through a difficult time that is similar to the grief cycle one encounters after losing a loved one. Each family and church member needs to prepare for this struggle and look for support in Christ, their church family and possibly counseling.

2. How will our church as a whole react? How will our church leadership react? The church as a whole will often follow the reaction of the leadership. Leadership needs input from the congregation, so encourage them to handle the situation in a Scriptural manner. Also, share with them the need to ask for help from other churches or church leaders if they feel they are not able to make a clear decision.

“On top of everything, think of this: ‘One day, I may very well fall. How would I want people to care for me?’”

3. How will we as a church react directly to the pastor? In other words, if his sin warrants that he resign, he is still to be treated as a brother in Christ. Some follow up questions might be, “How will our reaction to him impact our church now and years later? Is how we are treating him on a personal level Scriptural? Will it impact future decisions we make?”

4. Regardless of what the church leadership decides, what will I choose to do in relationship to the pastor? Or, how will I choose to treat the fallen pastor? Many people may choose to judge the pastor or cut ties with him personally. But we are all responsible for how we react. How are we to treat those who sin? Even if they disappoint us greatly? Going along with the crowd mentality is easy, but taking a stand for what is right is always difficult. Take time, pray, and study Scripture to make the right decisions.

5. Pray for him. After I fell, I heard through the grapevine that one of my former deacons had trouble praying for me. He said it took him a long time before he was able to think positively enough of me to say a prayer for me. That is absolutely understandable. Do your best. On top of everything, think of this: “One day, I may very well fall. How would I want people to care for me?

____________________________

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.

4 Factors That Lead To Ministry Failure

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, church, church members, fallenness, pastors | Posted on 07-07-2014

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fallenWhen a pastor falls morally, it is a devastating event. It is an affront to God, it harms many relationships, it violates the marriage vow, and leaves many disillusioned people in its wake. I know, because almost five years ago, I committed adultery while pastoring.

When it happens, people want to know, “Why did he do it? What was he thinking?I want to list four reasons that will help those looking for answers.

Before I do, I want to make a couple of important remarks. First, the question, “Why did he commit adultery?” is a complex question that requires a complex answer. There’s not going to be an answer that gives anyone complete satisfaction. When I wrote a book where I interviewed other fallen pastors, I was able to identify factors that led to moral failure. But even knowing these things doesn’t bring complete comfort.

It’s also important to know that these points aren’t an excuse or justification for adultery. The ultimate answer for “why do we fall short?” is “because we are sinful people who disobey God.” At some point, when a pastor begins to take his eyes off of God and makes a conscious choice to fall into temptation, the sin is his to own. Sin is behind each of these problems listed below. These are factors that lead up to that point. For more discussions of these points, please search my blog or check out my book.

1. Isolation - Many pastors do not have a strong support system. A lot of pastors don’t even have a close friend. The Fuller Institute reported in a study that 70% of pastors said they did not have someone they considered a close friend. In the ministry, having close friends you can share things with and be accountable to is extremely important. Forming a network of fellow pastors, mentors, and counselors who can help you through tough times is paramount to ministry survival.

It’s also important to know that these points aren’t an excuse or justification for adultery. The ultimate answer for ‘why do we fall short?’ is ‘because we are sinful people who disobey God.’ At some point, when a pastor begins to take his eyes off of God and makes a conscious choice to fall into temptation, the sin is his to own.”

2. Poor Marriage Relationship – I know a lot of pastors who have a wonderful relationship with their spouse and family. I’m also involved in this ministry now to help pastors who are in trouble, fallen pastors, their wives, women who have had affairs with pastors, and church leaders and members. I’ve learned that there are many troubled ministry marriages out there. A Francis Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership study reported that 77% of pastors said they did not have a good marriage. The same report said that 30% of them reported they had either been in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishoner. A poor marriage is one of the strongest indicators that ministry failure is imminent.

3. Overly High ExpectationsI recently wrote a blog about high expectations. Pastors should have high expectations. They have normal expectations for carrying out their job duties. They should be expected to have high moral character. But there are times when churches can expect too much. The Schaeffer report I quoted said that 71% stated they were burned out and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis. Extreme expectations can come from within or without, but if failure is to be prevented, communication must take place between the pastor and the leadership.

4. Judgmentalism/Pride – A lot of pastors who fall have a big problem with either judgmentalism and/or pride. The problem of judmentalism is not that the pastor understands what sin is and recognizes it. It is when he angrily demands control over every situation in a heavy-handed manner and without grace. Prideful pastors are those who demand their way and will rarely listen to counsel. The pulpit and position of pastor build them up and make them feel important instead of humble.

This ministry exists to help anyone who has experienced failure, or anyone on the brink of it. No matter who you are and how you’ve been affected, we will listen. You may feel broken and alone, but you’re not.

*All statistics can be found in my book.

Other helpful articles:

Why Pastors Fall Into Sin,” by Jack Frost

7 Steps to Avoid Sexual Sin and Stay in Ministry,” by Dustin Neeley

5 Reasons Ministers Are (More) Vulnerable to Sexual Temptation,” by Jeff Fisher

Seven Warning Signs of Affairs for Pastors and Other Church Staff,” by Thom S. Rainer

____________________________

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 Pastors: Three Very Common Questions

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, brokenness, church, church leadership, fallenness, humillity, ministry, pastors, repentance, restoration | Posted on 27-06-2014

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I love helping (and am always more than happy to help) anyone who contacts me through this fallingministry, but I am closest to the messed up, confused world of the freshly fallen pastor. And it is a horrible place to be. I tell fallen pastors, “No one really understands fallen ministers like a fellow fallen minister.”

One of the most confusing things for people on the outside looking in is the messed up morality of a fallen pastor. Here’s the deal – when a guy has committed adultery for a while and hasn’t been caught, he’s not thinking clearly or biblically. And when he gets caught, he’s going to try to justify and excuse his behavior any way he can. Often, he will use Scripture to justify his sin. I tried it. It even sounded good to me at the time. But it was wrong.

To everyone else, it sounds rotten. It is rotten. That’s why I always tell people to be kind and patient with a fallen pastor. Don’t let him twist the truth, but do show him compassion. Understand that he is going to come around eventually. He is living the life of the prodigal son – one day he’s going to wake up and smell the pig droppings. And when he does, he’s going to need people who care about him.

I want to answer a couple of the most frequently messed up questions I get from fallen pastors today (I introduced this issue in my last post). The answers will seem pretty obvious. But that’s just it – when you’re waist deep in the crud of sin, the answers aren’t obvious because we aren’t looking for truth.

You know what’s even more troubling? I get these same questions from church leaders who want to ignore the sin of their pastor because they don’t want the church’s reputation to suffer damage. They would rather hide the pastor’s affair (even though his wife knows), tell the woman he had an affair with to move on (because she’s usually a church member or member of the staff) and sweep it under the rug so that the church isn’t traumatized. I’m just gonna tell you that a decision like that always comes back to haunt a church and those involved.

quesr2So here are the most common messed up questions I get – questions I even considered when I wasn’t thinking clearly when I was mired in my sin.

1. “God has forgiven me, so why do I need to tell the church/my wife what I’ve done?”

God is a God of forgiveness. That is clear. He does cast our sin as far as the east is from the west. I am thankful for the amazing grace that God has shown to us by His Son Jesus Christ.

I blogged a little about this question before but want to give the response clearly again. If you are a church leader and you have committed adultery, you should ask God for forgiveness. But you also have a duty to tell your church and leaders.

When you were hired, voted in, appointed by a council – you were given the position of head elder/pastor and expected to fulfill the duties of 1 Timothy 3:1-13. Those people put their trust in you. They expected you to be faithful to your calling and be a person above reproach. When we commit a major sin, we violate their trust. When we violate their trust, we need to let them know and we have come under church discipline.

The same goes for our spouse. We took a vow. And even if we commit “emotional adultery,” there is something wrong in our marriage that needs to be fixed right away. If it doesn’t get fixed, we are going to do it again. Our spouse deserves to know that we violated our vow and that we have become vulnerable to sin.

2. “I committed adultery/had an emotional affair with a woman in the church. sorrycoupIt’s okay if she stays at the same church as I do, right?”

When guys ask me this question, I know a couple of things. First, they are in trouble spiritually and morally. They are not thinking clearly. Why? Because they think they are/or may actually be in love with the woman they are having an affair with. They cannot stand being apart from her. They don’t want to be away from her.

Second, if at this point a pastor has “only” admitted to an “emotional affair” and he asks this question – I can almost bank on the fact that he has crossed the line into the physical but he’s just not being forthcoming about it.

The big problem is this – if a man has been caught and he’s saying all the “right” things like, “I know I’ve sinned and I want to make things right with my wife.” But his actions are saying, “I still want to be around this woman and I’m still texting her and talking to her,” then what he’s saying and what he’s doing are two different things. He’s not repentant. He’s still trapped.

Listen carefully though. I have a tremendous amount of concern for the woman the pastor has been involved with. I think churches should have the same amount of concern, especially if she is a member or a part of the staff.

Back to the issue at hand. Pastor, if you have committed adultery and you want your marriage to work out, you’ve got to distance yourself permanently from the person you were with. End of story. On top of that, you have to be transparent for a long time with your wife about your cell phone, email, Facebook and anything else you have passwords on. Give her access to everything. It’s freedom. It one step back towards trust.

repenta3. “I’ll be okay pretty quick, right? I won’t be out the ministry very long.”

When you get caught, what you need is to be restored to Christ. Something went wrong. Lots of somethings. I write about it on this blog and in my book. Those things need to be fixed before any kind of ministry can ever happen again. A life of brokenness and humility need to occur while God restores you.

This doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen in a few weeks. If you’re lucky, it might happen in a year. It happens in God’s timing.

But when you’re honest about your sin and how you came to it, God will be longsuffering and will heal your heart. It’s not easy being honest, but it is rewarding. It’s tough, but it is the narrow road for those who want peace.

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

Other helpful links:

Sexual Sin in the Ministry” by Harry Schaumburg, Desiring God Ministries

Pastors on Moral Failures in Church Leadership: Don’t Hide It” by Lillian Kwon, Christian Post

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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.

Book Review: A First-Hand Look At Pastor Restoration

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in book review, fallenness, pastors, restoration | Posted on 25-06-2014

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potipharI was contacted last week by Bobby Sutton, a fellow fallen pastor who is seriously interested in pastoral restoration. We talked on the phone for a while and he told me his story. He mentioned he had a book published, “I Slept With Potiphar’s Wife” about his experience.

After talking with him, I was intrigued, so I went to his publisher’s website and purchased it.

I loved it. Sutton writes his story in a gritty first-person style and gets right to the point. It didn’t take me long to get through, but when I got to the section on how he was restored, I had to stop and proceed slowly.

I’ve often wondered what I would do differently about my own book. Bobby Sutton’s book did what I didn’t do. He personally recounted what a pastoral restoration should be like. He did it in a biblically thoughtful manner and an emotionally gripping way. It made me remember what my own restoration back to Christ was like.

Bobby begins by talking about pastors who have fallen and haven’t begun their restoration process yet. He calls them “cave dwellers.” They’re like Elijah passing time in the cave waiting for the “still small voice.” I knew exactly what he was talking about. Months after my own fall, I was there, hiding from God, hiding from people. Bobby shares his own recollection of his time and what it took to come out of the cave.

Bobby then talks about how God gets the fallen pastor’s attention and begins the restoration process. It’s a difficult thing to describe to those who haven’t experienced God penetrating the heart of the sinning Christian. However, Bobby describes it extremely well. When God begins to work on the heart of the fallen pastor, it is a heart-wrenching yet joyous time.

If you’re a fallen pastor, I highly recommend this book. Especially if you haven’t found your way back on the path of repentance or restoration. Bobby’s down to earth manner will touch your heart and mind. As you read, you’ll feel like you have a friend walking with you along the path. I’d also recommend this book to anyone who desires to understand the process fallen pastors are going through or the restoration process itself.

Bobby’s book can be found in paperback or eBook format at Tate Publishing and other online retailers.

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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.

What Can The SBC Do About Adulterous Pastors?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in fallenness, Fred Luter, ministry, southern baptist | Posted on 13-06-2014

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This post was originally written on 2/28/13. I modified it today to reflect changes in my own heart over time. You can read the original post here.

sbccI don’t ask this question lightly. And I do it with a heavy heart. I also do it as a lifetime Southern Baptist. I ask it as a fallen pastor who committed adultery while serving as a pastor over four years ago. I ask it knowing the ins and outs of the largest protestant denomination in the United States.

I also ask it as a man who has talked to many fallen Southern Baptist pastors in the past three years. Some of them fell, chose not to repent and kept living a sinful life. However, many of them got help, repented, walked a path of holiness and were restored to a relationship with Christ.

There are some issues to be looked at before anything else is said. First, Southern Baptists pride themselves in their autonomy. The Southern Baptist Convention is a meeting that takes place once a year to make resolutions and talk about missions. The other 51 weeks a year, each church makes decisions on their own, based on the basic rules of faith set out in The Baptist Faith and Message. Not all Baptist churches agree with one another on all details. Some churches might elect divorce deacons to serve, other may not. Some might allow female music ministers, others may find that idea horrendous.

There is some diversity within the practice of the Baptist churches, but all pretty much agree on the doctrines of their faith. Some might even have stricter guidelines within their association regarding other issues, but most follow general Baptist principles.

The crux of the problem is one I have shared over and over again – pastors are leaving the pulpit in large numbers each week due to moral failure. There are statistics to back this up. I can also back this up with anecdotal evidence. I get emails everyday from pastors who have fallen, the wives of fallen pastors, and the women who have committed adultery with pastors.

In my book, I outline warning signs that lead pastors to commit adultery. In the end, it is their sin, theirs to own. It seems that on a regular basis, we hear of these stories. I even quote one statistic that 33% of conservative pastors have had an inappropriate relationship with a member of the opposite sex and have kept it under wraps.

thrownUnfortunately, it would appear that the most common response in the Southern Baptist church is to remove the pastor immediately from the pulpit and push him away. No counseling, no help, no kind of compassion or attempt to reach out to him. Yes, most of the time, when he is caught he is defensive or he is going on a course of his own. But it is my conviction that a large group of Christians have the duty to at least reach out in the spirit of Galatians 6:1 and pursue the pastor.

But for the most part, in my interviews with pastors, in my counseling with them, this does not happen. Do most of them want it at that moment? No. But should that stop us? No. When someone is caught in sin, rarely do they desire to hear about God. But that is when we must pursue them the most.

When I fell three years ago and when I began to understand the great sin I had committed against God, I started to look for help within the SBC. The closest thing I found was a church in the South that ran a program of restoration. They had over 400 applicants a year, but were only to take on about 18.

I understand the main focus of the SBC. Missions, the Great Commission, discipleship. I respect that. We should be people who are missional. We should be reaching people for the Gospel. The funds we drive for every year for the cooperative program does so much good. In fact, it helped me get through seminary.

In the last post I wrote about this, I was calling for the SBC to do more to help fallen pastors. It was my hope that my beloved denomination would put a program in place to reach out to help those pastors who had left the ministry because of moral failure.

Here was my inner monologue: “Well, we put a lot of resources into training men for ministry, so why don’t we seem to care about these same men when they fall from ministry? What I see are men who have fallen from a great height. The SBC has a large number of resources, like the North American Mission Board who could help these men. Surely these men would be considered a mission.”

I had an awakening of sorts. Over time, I realized a couple of things. It all came together when I had the honor of sitting down with SBC president Fred Luter. He talked about a lot of great things going on in the SBC and I was able to fluter6share with him the number of fallen pastors within our own denomination. He seemed a little shocked.

At that moment, I realized that the SBC does a lot of wonderful things. But they’re also limited in their resources. They can’t do everything. At the moment I realized that, I started thinking back to my time when I served as a pastor of a small church.

Our resources were limited. We could handle a lot of things, but not everything. When someone would come up and say, “We really should start a summer program for kids,” or “maybe we should start a preschool.” All I could think was, “We don’t have the money. Are you kidding?”

Before and while I was meeting with Pastor Luter, I was thinking, “Does the SBC really need to start a program for fallen pastors? Maybe God has already started one.”

Almost five years ago when I started blogging anonymously, I never would have conceived that I would be getting emails from people who needed help on a daily basis. Fallen Pastor is a ministry. There are other ministries out there that I network with that are doing the same thing.

I’m not discounting the SBC when I say that God is doing something outside of the denominational sphere to help fallen pastors. I talk to all kinds of people from different backgrounds. I don’t have to answer to a denomination or clock into an office. God saw fit to turn my mess into a ministry. That’s where I am right now and I’m more than happy to be here. He’s even involved my wife to counsel women who are involved with pastors.

Comparing my feelings now with my previous post – no, I don’t think the SBC needs to be involved. Not because they wouldn’t be able to a great job. But because God has graced others with the work. And I’m overwhelmed with the prospect.

His love, grace, and mercies never cease.

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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.

 

SBC President Fred Luter: Help for Fallen Pastors

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, fallenness, Fred Luter, interview, pastors, southern baptist | Posted on 11-06-2014

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fluter6The Southern Baptist Convention is taking place this week in Baltimore and with it, the final week of Pastor Fred Luter as President. So, I’m reposting the interview I had with him a couple of months ago. I had a great meeting with him and he showed his concern about fallen pastors. This is part two and I encourage you to read both parts. I pray for Pastor Luter as he continues his ministry.

Here’s part two of my interview with Pastor Fred Luter, current president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Make sure you check out part one before you pick up here. We covered all kinds of topics.

In the second half, we talk about what should happen to pastors who commit adultery, whether churches are properly equipped to handle the fall of a pastor, how pastors can be restored, and part of Pastor Luter’s own personal journey.

Fallen Pastors, Restoration, and How the Church Can Manage It

Ray Carroll: I believe there’s a moment when a pastor has forfeit his right to be the shepherd of his congregation.

Fred Luter: I believe that too. I’m not saying he can’t do anything. But he’s not fit to shepherd the people.

RC: Whether it’s an African-American church, or a Caucasian church that kicks a guy to the curb or gets a guy six months of counseling, everyone seems to be handling it differently. Six months of counseling isn’t going to fix what’s wrong with your heart, you know?

FL: That’s right.

RC: I believe when a man falls, it’s because there’s something wrong with your relationship with God and there’s something wrong with your relationship with your wife. And it’s going to take a whole lot longer than six months to fix both of those things.

FL: I agree with that. I’m on the same page as you.

RC: Churches are ill-equipped, rather, they don’t even know where to go where to look when their pastor falls. Whether it’s a Caucasian church or an African-American church, they most often don’t know where to go for help.

FL: I like the statement you made that when a brother falls, he’s not ready to be a senior pastor. See, that’s the problem in many of our African-American churches. Many of our churches, we didn’t have staff members. The pastor was the head honcho. We had associate ministers who were volunteers or bi-vocational. An African-American church, if the pastor isn’t there, it’s going to crumble. It’s going to fall because we depend so much on that person.

I think if there were more opportunities in the African-American church for preachers who fall and they can still be used in other positions other than senior pastor, I don’t think the damage would be as bad.

RC: I agree. I’ve seen guys who say, “I shouldn’t be pastoring right now. I need to be restored.” And when I say restored, I don’t mean to ministry, I mean to Christ. They need to get their life right with Christ before they start thinking about a return to ministry. I think if they do that, there’s a chance for them for a return to some sort of ministry. And whatever form of ministry they return to, that’s not up to me, that’s up to God.

“I’ll never forget when I started running for the position of Southern Baptist president, I started getting calls from all over the country from white media asking, ‘Why in the world does a black man want to be president of the Southern Baptist Convention?‘”

I believe what you’re saying is absolutely right. Galatians 6:1 says to “restore such a one.”

FL: Exactly. And that’s the problem with a lot of our brothers in the body of Christ. They don’t look at that Scripture. It says, “restore,” it doesn’t say “kick them to the curb.” I know you’ve heard the saying that the church are the only ones who shoot our own wounded. I know you’ve seen it personally and seen it other places. Where is the restoration? And it’s a problem.

And your ministry and I appreciate what you’re doing and the ministry Johnny Hunt has for fallen ministers. Johnny has helped a lot of pastors. We can’t just kick these guys to the curb. What if Moses had been kicked to the curb? Or David?

So somewhere, somehow, we’ve got to look at how we deal with a fallen brother or a fallen sister and the ultimate goal is that there needs to be restoration.

RC: We have a battle of extremes in many of our churches when it comes to fallen pastors. We either let him stay where he is without seriously dealing with his sin or we kick him out, which is saying, “If you sin, we’re done with you.” Instead, we should be saying, “When you sin, there is grace and restoration back to Christ for the repentant sinner.” What a model of restoration that is for the body of Christ to witness.

High Expectations for Church Leaders

FL: I think the problem lies in that we tend to feel that because of a pastor’s position that they should know better. But we’re human just like fluter8anyone else. I tell that to people at my church all the time, “I have marital issues just like you do, we have financial issues just like you do, and many nights I’ve slept on the sofa.” I’m very transparent with my congregation.

Yes, I’m in a position of leadership, but I’m a human just like you are. I have the same struggles and issues that you do. That’s why you need to keep me in your prayers. But when I do mess up, don’t say, “Well you should know better, you’re the pastor.” That’s the problem we have in a lot of our churches. We’ve put this guy on some kind of pedestal. And when they do fall how we deal with them is very inappropriate.

RC: That’s one of the factors I found when I interviewed pastors for my book that can weaken men to a dangerous point was overly high expectations. I also found that pastors have more unrealistic expectations for themselves than anyone else places on them.  Many have become consumed with doing ministry and have forgotten about pursuing Christ and letting Him do His work.

FL: And in the beginning we spend so much time in the Word and in prayer because we need help. There’s really only depending on God. But now we’ve got a few sermons under our belt and we look back and do some good things here or there and we don’t depend on God as much.

Recommendations for Fallen African-American Pastors & Churches

RC: So what would you tell me when an African-American brother or sister contacts me and says, “I’ve fallen or my husband has fallen and the church leaders are telling me I’ve got to stay or my husband has to stay and to keep quiet about it.” Generally, what’s your advice?

FL: What I would say is in spite of what the leadership says, you request some time off. Call it a sabbatical, call it a vacation, and just say you need some time. You don’t have to make it a public announcement, but the key leaders will know why. Tell them you need to work on yourself and you need to work on your marriage.

Franklin Avenue is the only church I’ve ever pastored. We started with 50 members. I was a street preacher after I got saved. I was preaching at Greater Liberty Baptist Church and came to Franklin Avenue. Technically, that’s how I became a Southern Baptist. Franklin Avenue was at one time an all-white Baptist Church.

luter5I’ll never forget when I started running for the position of Southern Baptist president, I started getting calls from all over the country from white media asking, “Why in the world does a black man want to be president of the Southern Baptist Convention?” I told them when I became a pastor, this was an all-white church and that’s how I became part of the Southern Baptists.

I never will forget there were times I was burning the candle at both ends, I felt I was the poster child for the Southern Baptists and I was on every news program. And it just got to the point when I used to go continually and I would come home and my kids would say, “Hey Dad, it’s good to see you!” But it got to a point where they would just say, “Hey Dad.”

And I said to myself, “Wow, I’m losing my family.” I’m going all over the country, preaching at all these places to all these people who are having me sign their Bibles, but I’m losing my family. And one Sunday I got before my church and said to them, “Folks, I need to take some time off. I’m going so much that I’m losing my family. And shame on me if I’m going all across the country and trying to save the world and I lose my own family.” I told them it wasn’t scheduled but I need a week off.

And guess what? They stood up and applauded and were very supportive. I will never forget that day as long as I live. My wife and kids had no idea I was going to do that.

People need to be honest with themselves. Like I always say – a drug addict can never be set free until they look at themselves in the mirror and say, “I’ve got a problem.” An alcoholic can never be set free until they look at themselves and say, “I have a problem.”

So the pastor needs to look at himself in the mirror and say, “I’ve got a problem.” Admit to yourself you’ve got a problem and tell your church, “I need to have some time off. I need to regroup. I need to get back to God.” Then pray like David did in Psalm 51, “Have mercy upon me, O God.” Do whatever you need to do to get away with your wife and reconcile. She may not, but you’ve got to work at it.

“And that’s the problem with a lot of our brothers in the body of Christ. They don’t look at that Scripture. It says, ‘restore,’ it doesn’t say ‘kick them to the curb.’ I know you’ve heard the saying that the church are the only ones who shoot our own wounded. I know you’ve seen it personally and seen it other places. Where is the restoration? And it’s a problem.”

I’ve seen us as pastors go an awful long way to work with families and help their kids and others, but we don’t always do the same thing for our own families. And that’s because we assume that our families should understand.

I also recommend to the church to set up some accountability procedures when he comes back. When he goes out on a preaching engagement, assign one of the men of the church to go with him. Have someone go with him, whether it’s a deacon or a trustee, but someone he’s comfortable with. And have the church cover the expense. Because you know how temptation is always there. Even at the church, there should be some accountability there. You shouldn’t be with a female in the office by yourself. Have a window in your office if you’re behind closed doors. Just some things that will protect you.

Because the temptation will always be there. The enemy will always make sure. That’s an area where you will fall. The enemy says, “Oh, that’s what you like? Then I’m going to keep pressing that button.” Satan, he studies us. My weakness may not be yours and yours may not be mine, but we all have one. And the enemy will study it. “Oh, Krispy Kreme donuts is yours? Okay. Alright.

RC: Krispy Kreme is everyone’s weakness.

I get this question a lot and you’ve talked about it some in regards to different situations. I have my own feelings on the issue. If a pastor has krispycommitted adultery, he needs to tell his wife and he needs to tell the church leadership. Does he need to tell the congregation? They don’t need to know the details, but they need to know. I feel that he’s violated the trust of the church and at least for the time, he’s forfeit his right to be the shepherd.

FL: I totally agree. They don’t need to know the details. But call a special meeting, church members only, but that doesn’t always work because you’ll have all kinds of people showing up.

The church needs to know. And that will say to the people, “Wow, he’s human like us.” Because there are a lot of people in the audience who have messed up like him.

RC: I’ll tell you what. Since I’ve been preaching again and sharing my testimony with congregations, many times during the invitation, I will have people come up and confess their adultery to me. And a lot of them are church leaders, Sunday School teachers and deacons. They say to me, “I never thought a leader could mess up like I did.” And they needed to hear that God could forgive them.

FL: I think that needs to happen. And that could be the start of reconciliation. For not only him and his wife and between him and God, but for him and the church. But those wounds need to heal. It’s a wound. And if it’s not dealt with it will just spread.

RC: Anything else you want to add?

FL: As president of this convention, I see a lot of things, I get a lot of letters, and there is just a need for guys who have fallen to be ministered to. We are known for shooting our wounded. But Paul says, “Considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.”

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Pastor Fred Luter, Jr., is the Senior Pastor at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana and the first African American to be elected as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Read more about him here.

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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.

Special thanks to Dr. Randy Johnson for his help in making this interview a reality.

Advice For “The Other Woman”

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, fallenness, guilt, pastors, restoration | Posted on 28-05-2014

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moralcrisisThere’s a moral crisis among pastors in our country. I can cite statistics all day – and I have on this blog – about pastors falling into adultery to prove the point.

But I think the thing that gets to me the most are the women who contact us through this website who most would call the pastor’s mistress, “the other woman”, or the adulteress. We minister to everyone who is affected by the fall. If I had nothing else to base my premise of a moral crisis among pastors on – the sheer numbers of women claiming to be having affairs with pastors still serving would be enough.

Before I start on this topic, I want to address two things. First, I fell in the ministry and I married the woman I had an affair with. I’ve made it clear before and I’ll say it again. We are not an example to be followed. We sinned in the eyes of God. Also, even though we sinned, any advice we give should not be automatically dismissed. It should be matched up with Scripture. If it’s truth, it’s truth only because God said it first.

I also want to caution readers who read this to be aware of their beliefs and emotions on this topic. It’s one thing to have a sense of compassion for the woman caught in adultery in John 8. But often, I’ve found that when many Christians come face to face with a real woman caught in adultery with a pastor, they are quick to judge her harshly and are unwilling to show her love or any kind of path to restoration in Christ.

Most of the emails we get from women who are having affairs with pastors are very similar and saddening. Many have the same characteristics which outline the problems in our churches, but will also form the basis of my advice I would like to give to all the “other women” out there who might read this. Here are the most common statements we hear:

1. “This affair has been going on a long time. I’ve become convinced that it needs to end, but he tells me that it’s okay. He doesn’t want it to end. What should I do?”

More often than not, the woman involved with a pastor will show moral objection long before the pastor will. She is otherwomanoften guilt-ridden and wants out, knowing that the relationship was a mistake in the first place. She admits that she was weak when it started and acknowledges her sin, but also admits that her bond with the pastor is very strong.

At the same time, the pastor often justifies their actions together. Sometimes, he will use Scripture to do so. He will often tell her how his wife doesn’t listen to him anymore, how he’s never loved anyone like her, how he was never meant to be with his wife, that God meant her to be his companion and not his wife. He’s an accomplished speaker and people person and his words hold sway with someone who is in love with him.

My advice is always the same. Get out of the relationship. It’s sinful and is causing harm to both you and to anyone it touches. You are right to feel guilty but you can be free of it. God will forgive you of that sin, but you have to break free from it. The best first step is to leave the church and get free from any influence the pastor has over you. No more texting, meetings, phone calls, emails – no contact. Let him know it’s over.

2. “He keeps telling me that he’s going to leave his wife and family for me. He’s been telling me that for a long time. He tells me he loves me. He hasn’t left his wife yet. I don’t want to wreck his family, but I love him too.”

This happens more than you’d probably want to know. And these examples I’m giving? Most of these pastors are probably still serving. I’ll get to that in a minute.

In general, if you’re having an affair and a man keeps telling you he’s going to leave his family, don’t believe him. But that’s not even the point. You shouldn’t even be in that relationship and you know you shouldn’t.

My dad gave me some of the best advice ever one time. He said, “Son, if you ever have to ask whether or not you should be doing something, you probably shouldn’t be.” In other words, if you have to ask about the ethics of something – especially something pretty simple – you probably already know the answer.

That’s what’s under all of these questions. It’s not really about “should I run off with the pastor“? The women who contact us already know what they’re doing is wrong. They really want to know “I know I’m wrong. How do I get out?” Again, stop the relationship. Remove all contact. Find people who can help you.

3. “The church leaders found out about me and the pastor. But the pastor lied about the relationship. He told them I was coming on to him and he kept trying to push me away. He told them it was an emotional affair but there was more. I have proof. The church leaders and members are attacking me and lying about me. I have proof of how awful he was and don’t think he should be pastoring. Should I turn him in?”

otherwoman2Again, I get this a lot. And it’s tough. Because on one hand, when any of us has been hurt and accused of more than we should, we have an overwhelming sense of justice. Especially when the other person we were co-partners in sin with is getting away with it and blaming it all on us.

My advice is difficult, but I lean on some Scriptural ideals. Jesus calls on us to be peacemakers. We are also told that our sin will find us out. God has a plan for everything. If we really believe that – as hard as it may be – then the advice may not be so hard to follow.

I advise not to retaliate. Get as far away from the church and pastor as possible. Focus on getting yourself right with God. You get better. Get yourself help. Heal your heart. Get that situation in your rear view mirror and give it over to God. If that pastor and church leadership know the truth and are twisting it, then they aren’t going to believe you anyway. No one there is. They aren’t going to accept anything you say.

I know you want justice. I know you want the satisfaction of seeing him hurt like you hurt, especially when he told you he loved you and he made you feel special. But that’s not your place. Vengeance isn’t your place. God will take care of it. What you need to do is grasp the grace of God and His forgiveness for your sin. One day, that pastor is going to get exposed and he will have to face the music. When he does, he’s going to need grace as well.

Friends, I’ve seen a lot of hurt people in the past five years. I’ve talked to all kinds of people from different backgrounds. They all need love, grace, mercy and kindness. Some of them just need someone to listen for a minute without being judgmental. Some just need someone who’s been there and to tell them that Christ really does forgive and love them for who they are.

If you’re the other woman and want out, contact us. We’re here for you. If you’re a pastor involved in an affair, stop. You’re doing damage to yourself, your family, and to another person.  And I’m here for you. Contact me. I won’t judge you or yell at you. I do know the way to help and a path to restoration. Let us help.

Related post: The Fallen Pastor’s Wife – Wrote this post three years ago to help the wives of fallen pastors.

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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.

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