Category Archives: guest blog

Guest Blog: What Will It Take To Forgive?

I’d like to welcome Mark and Lisa DeCourcey today for a guest blog. Mark writes today with the heart of a fallen pastor who understands forgiveness and the need for restoration and reconciliation. Please check out their information and their blog info below.

A little over a year ago, I committed adultery. God has done an amazing work of restoration in my family and in my marriage. My wife, Lisa, has been living out forgiveness like I have never seen before. I am blessed and amazed and grateful that ours is a forgiving God.

forgivemeWhile I celebrate the forgiveness of God and Lisa and my family, I realize that there are others who have not forgiven me. Some of these people don’t surprise me, while others do. In a desire to better understand forgiveness, I ponder the question, “Why haven’t you forgiven me?” I don’t wonder out of anger or entitlement. I want to learn. Because you see, at the top of the list people who have struggled to forgive me is me. I can just as easily ask the same question—“What will it take for me to forgive myself?”

As I ponder forgiveness, I realize that there are some barriers I face in forgiving myself that may apply to forgiving others:

I will forgive you when you have shown repentance.

“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” Luke 17:3

Repentance is absolutely necessary for forgiveness. If he repents, forgive him. What I have learned of repentance over this last year is that it is a lifestyle change. It is a condition of the heart made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit in me. I must continually strive to live out repentance. It begins with the words, “I repent,” but it is proven out over time. At what point is my heart repentant enough? Is evidence of repentance sufficient or do I need proof of repentance?

 I will forgive you when _______ does.

I have hurt many with my sin. As I survey the damage, it becomes evident that I have hurt people at different levels and to different degrees. I am inclined to think, “If that person can forgive me, I can forgive me. If this person can’t forgive me, I could never forgive me.” I am overwhelmed by the gracious forgiveness my wife has extended to me. If she could not forgive me, I am not sure I could ever forgive myself. I am grateful that I don’t have to process through that. I must, however, consider that hard reality.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Jesus has forgiven me. How could I elevate anyone’s forgiveness, even my wife’s, to a higher status? If I think, “Jesus has deemed me worthy of forgiveness but Lisa hasn’t, therefore I am not worthy,” that puts a great deal of pressure on my wife and demotes Jesus from His position as Righteous Judge.

I will forgive you when the punishment has fit the crime.

I tend to be a justice seeker. There is a level of punishment I expect for my sin and until I have reached it, I will not forgive. It is as though I believe God requires a degree of pain from me before He will forgive. In the days immediately after the discovery of my affair, I laid on the floor and begged God to allow me to feel the full weight of my sin. He said to me (not audibly, but emphatically) “No. You don’t get to feel the full weight of your sin because my Son did. I will not minimize what He did for you on the cross just so you can feel like you are contributing to your forgiveness.”

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

The fitting punishment for sin in general, and adultery specifically, is death. In my case, the penalty for my sin was paid about 2,000 years before the crime. If I believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin and to make forgiveness available to me, then I cannot wait for some added level of punishment.

“He said, ‘It is finished…’” John 19:30

I will forgive you when I feel like it.

I have spent a year waiting to wake up in the morning and feel forgiven. At the same time, I have wanted to feel like forgiving myself. I am waiting for some warm, happy feeling to spur my actions. In the words of every pop-psychologist of our day, “I will follow my heart.” The truth is, I need to lead my heart.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

Forgiveness will not simply spring forth from my heart. I have heard Forgiveness: Who's Saying What?, Part 1it preached and I have preached it myself that love is not a feeling that washes over you; rather it is a choice, a commitment, an action. Forgiveness is born out of love and as such carries that same DNA. Forgiveness is a choice, a commitment to do the hard work that is coming. I don’t feel like forgiving myself and that is good. If I forgive because I feel like it, perhaps I have bought into the deceit of my heart. That forgiveness will be as lasting as that warm, fuzzy feeling of “love.”

I will forgive you out of obedience.

Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving servant to put me in my place. In spite of my countless sin, my acts of direct rebellion against God Almighty, He has forgiven me. Who am I to think for a moment that I should hold my brother or myself to a higher standard than the Master.

“‘And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:33-35

The Master simply says—no, demands—that as we have been forgiven, we forgive. Forgiving is an opportunity for pure obedience. When the Master says to forgive and I am inclined to forgive, that is agreement. When the Master says to forgive and I don’t want to forgive but I do, that is obedience. God’s command is “Forgive.” When I don’t feel like, when I don’t want to, when I’m not ready, when it doesn’t make sense—this is when I have the opportunity to honor the Master with obedience.

 I will forgive you in faith.

I believe my struggle to forgive myself boils down to this: do I believe my sins are forgiven? Do I believe that Jesus’ death on the cross is sufficient? Do I believe that the crucifixion is the culmination of God’s prefect to plan to atone for my sin and restore me to a right relationship with Him? It seems my inability to forgive is connected closely to my inability to be forgiven. This locks me tightly in a catch-22. My faith must be firmly anchored in the God who worked it out, all by Himself, with nothing added by me, before I was born.

“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Are you struggling to forgive yourself? Are you struggling to forgive someone else? I have a long way to go, but here is what has become clear to me: if forgiveness depends more on me and less on God at work in me, I will never truly forgive nor will I truly be forgiven. Like so many of the deep truths of being a Christ-follower, if I need to fully understand it, I will not experience the full blessing of forgiveness.

For more on Mark and Lisa DeCourcey’s story and God’s amazing work of restoration, check out their blog at www.decourcey.net.

____________________________

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.

Abandonment, Unconditional Surrender, and Peace

Another guest blog today by my friend David e White. Make sure you check out his bio info below and go by his blog. Thanks again, David.

Abandonment, Unconditional Surrender, and Peace

by David e White

Today was a tough day. It got off to a rough start of heated discussion, where I was not at my best, following an extraordinarily full weekend where I emerged exhausted. Having said this, the past few months have been difficult as well. One of the complications over this season has been a slump in business, which has created negative impacts in finances (is it a good idea to tell the people that you serve that you are afraid of going broke?).

despairFinances are not the worst of the situation however, for as I confessed in my last post, I have an addiction to validation, so business slump also lands me in the land of employment neurosis (check out Viktor Frankl & Man’s Search for Meaning), wherein I begin to feel that I am useless and then life becomes meaningless – grand despair. This is dangerous ground for someone who has fallen, for coping mechanisms shout loudly to advertise momentary relief.

Naturally I would like to avoid despair. It is the lowest of all emotions and it has no bottom. Having said this, I note a paradoxical sense of peace when I begin to contemplate an unconditional surrender to God, and (dare I say?) let myself feel the despair.

Not quite ready for unconditional surrender this morning, I put on my hiking boots and my heavy pack and launched into an 18 km trek. I wrestled with my mind for most of the journey, but found myself reflecting on a passage in Lamentations (3: 25-33), and I returned with a deepened perspective (along with two blisters):

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst.”

Why?”

Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way…” (MSG)

The specific phrase that kept replaying in my head is recorded in the New Living Translation as: “…no one is abandoned by the Lord forever.”

For someone who wrestles with validation and has been deeply wounded through abandonment in the past, the thought of being abandoned by God did not sit well with me at first. Yet, I come to experience a paradoxical peace, as I contemplate what I know of God’s character. While experiencing the feelings of despair, the peace begins to emerge as I make my decision to be abandoned — abandoned to my Creator God – for He is worthy, and He is trustworthy.

I am noticing that despair strips away my hope for salvation in any other form and I am left with but one hope: God and God alone. Being abandoned to God is simple, though not easy. It is unconditional surrender, on my knees, with empty hands.

What hope for salvation/restoration/reconciliation do you hold out for? Are you ready to be abandoned?

_____________________

About David e White:

I have over 20 years of executive leadership experience, but I’ve also been a laborer, salesperson, manager, and consultant – even a professional musician! I have experienced the thrill of rapid growth and prosperity, but also the pain of downsizing and recession. I have been the leader who made the magic happen – I’ve made the tough decisions – I have also been the guy that got blown up by decisions made by others, and even a few I made on my own. Through it all I have learned how to be resilient and thrive in the aftermath of both scenarios.

I write, speak and coach in the area of leadership and organizational resilience. My content is anchored in the bedrock of core values, and I have come to appreciate that grace and love are wonderful gifts.  I work to inspire, encourage and equip leaders with principles for resilience. Principles that enable you to persevere adapt and excel through life’s challenges, change, uncertainty and crisis.

I would be delighted to have you as a companion on this journey. I post weekly at www.davidewhite.ca.

_____________________

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 Hope is Built On…? by David e White

Thanks to my friend David e White who has contributed another guest blog. His heart is deep for fallen leaders and I love his message here about hope. Here, he shares his own testimony to help others.  Please read this and share it with others. It’s for everyone – not just fallen ministers. Please also take time to read his bio at the end.

My Hope Is Built on…?

I am saddened when I think of the sheer volume of pastors that are falling out of ministry every year in North America. I am perplexed that there is not more being done to address the issue in some appropriate fashion — some manner of action that would see wholeness return, though I do not know what that would be.

I confess to being somewhat disillusioned that so many people seem to be willing to allow this to happen, or to stand in self-righteous (or fallingfearful) silence, or worse yet, judgment. I am compelled to write, to reach out and to speak in vulnerability. However, it is here in this attempt that I come face to face with my own weakness.

I need to take you back a little ways to make sense of what I am about to say – please bear with me.

I am the oldest of four. I lost my Father to a permanent physical and mental disability when I was 7 years old (he, 42). My mother passed away just 5 years later (she 37), and the four of us were moved to another province to live with her sister’s family. I have been sexually abused as a child. My girlfriend and I were pregnant in high school (our 30th anniversary was this past spring) and this led me to dive hard into any work I could find. I rose through the ranks from laborer to CEO, driven by a need to prove my value, and amassed a career full of accolades as an overachieving executive. There is much more to say – but these are the highlights.

My childhood years seem a paradoxical combination of abandonment while shouldering inordinate responsibility. I believe that this led me to be driven in my career pursuit as well — alone in a hard world, if I did not come up with the solutions, who would? In truth, I have been good at solving problems. I have been the transformative change agent in many different organizations over the years, and I could give you a long list of testimonials to prove it — but my heart has longed for more.

Here’s the Rub

I am constantly told that I must promote myself (develop my platform) to be heard, I must learn the science of search engine optimization (SEO) and I must generate endless reams of content for blog posts, Twitter, magazine articles and books — all in an effort to solve problems for others and to make a living for my family — and so I try, but it is hard, and I feel vulnerable.

I am moved to help others through a deep and passionate sincerity – BUT – I am also addicted to validation. Though I know that only my Creator can validate me, I am vulnerable to the validation (even more so the lack thereof) from others. I have come to know that this is the root of why I fell, and this addiction can leave me tortured in my writing, for I long to see or hear of some impact arising from what I have said – something that affirms that my effort has been worthwhile, something that validates my being.

I sometimes feel as though I should ignore my compulsion to communicate and simply take a job outside of the realm of creative influence. While my financial advisor might suggest this is a good thing, my counselor reminds me of calling. It seems ironic to me that I feel like I struggle with resilience while I write, coach and speak about it. Some have suggested that I am a sage and that I am full of wisdom, but I feel like a peer, and sometimes even more like a novice learner.

I will vulnerably tell you that after 10 years of flying solo as a creative communicator I often feel hopeless — in my desire for personal wholeness, and in my effort to generate sustainable impact professionally.

What is Hope?

I enjoyed a deep conversation with a good friend of mine this week. She was telling me that she would not allow her counselor to ever use the “h” word (hope) during their sessions. She explained that the word hope had meant nothing to her during the 6 years that she was sexually abused. All hope was simply false hope, a mere placebo at best.

hope4Then slowly her perspective began to change. She came to see that hope could have substance. Coffee in hand, she looked across the table at me at said, “Hope is to shine a light on God’s character.” She started to go on and explain more, but I implored her to stop so that I could absorb what she had said. I knew that she had endured much, and that whatever she would say would be substance, but these few words served as a wallop of truth.

Since then I spent some time searching scripture references for hope. Perhaps one of the most compelling is Lamentations 3: 21-24 (NLT):

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail…great is your faithfulness…I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'”

It does not matter if you have arrived at a place of feeling hopeless due to something external, or your own personal failure. Our Creator God has proved over and over again that His arm is not too short to rescue; that no one is outside of the reach of His saving grace.

The Key to Resilience

I have been deeply discouraged (even despairing) at times throughout my life. I would like to tell you that it all happened many years ago. In truth, I have battled often over the last few days and weeks as I am facing uncertainty – where there is the possibility of significant downside outcomes. What keeps me going? Hope. I have shined a light on the character of my Creator God, and I believe that He will do as He has promised – to work all things together for good in my life – whether I understand the outcome or not. He is worthy. He is trustworthy. It is good to sit in silence and wait for the salvation of the Lord.

_____________________

About David e White:

I have over 20 years of executive leadership experience, but I’ve also been a laborer, salesperson, manager, and consultant – even a professional musician! I have experienced the thrill of rapid growth and prosperity, but also the pain of downsizing and recession. I have been the leader who made the magic happen – I’ve made the tough decisions – I have also been the guy that got blown up by decisions made by others, and even a few I made on my own. Through it all I have learned how to be resilient and thrive in the aftermath of both scenarios.

I write, speak and coach in the area of leadership and organizational resilience. My content is anchored in the bedrock of core values, and I have come to appreciate that grace and love are wonderful gifts.  I work to inspire, encourage and equip leaders with principles for resilience. Principles that enable you to persevere adapt and excel through life’s challenges, change, uncertainty and crisis.

I would be delighted to have you as a companion on this journey. I post weekly at www.davidewhite.ca.

_____________________

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 My Kids Taught Me With A Million Lightning Bugs

For the past few nights, thousands of lightning bugs (or fireflies, depending on where you’re from), have made an appearance near lbugsour rural home. I’ve never seen so many. Tonight, I got a chance to show our three daughters. I had something really profound to say about it all with a big illustration.

But two of our girls had their own thoughts and wanted to write something about the lightning bugs.  So, in my years of blogging, I’ve learned to get out of the way and let people talk. First up is Katie (12) who has written an entire blog post before. Then, Abigail (14), who makes her blog writing debut. I’m proud of both of them. When we let our kids speak creatively, it gives us a chance to see what they’ve learned. And what we’ve taught them. And I learned something too.

Katie’s Thoughts

Okay, this is Ray’s daughter Katie writing right now. So last night there were these beautiful lightning bugs outside. We looked outside in the field outside of our house and they were everywhere. It was so amazing.

You couldn’t even comprehend that God created such an amazing thing for us to enjoy. I believe He does these things for us to realize and remember that He’s in control and always will be. And that we just need to trust in him. I know everything happens for Gods glory and I think He gives us these things to remember that. And watching those lightning bugs just filled me with peace and joy and it was so overwhelming I cried with joy. It’s just amazing.

Abigail’s Thoughts

This is Ray’s “other” daughter, Abigail. Yeah. Other. Woo hoo. Haha okay. So anyways, we saw a whole bunch if lightning bugs tonight out in our backyard. And I don’t mean just a dozen or two, I mean like thousands upon thousands lightning bugs just twinkling in the field behind a fence in our distant backyard. And oh my gosh it was incredible. There aren’t many things in this world that I would say are beautiful, but that definitely had to be one of them.

photo(1)
Two of my favorite people in the world. Abigail and Katie.

First we went out into the front yard a saw quite a few, then Leslie our youngest sister goes, “Guys, look in the backyard!” So we did and it was amazing. My dad started laughing this creepy laugh and saying, “That’s so cool…

It truly was beautiful. It’s like God decided to put those fireflies behind our house for us to enjoy. Not for selfish reasons, but simply a reminder of how incredible His work really is.

We, as humans, take a whole lot of things for granted. We don’t always appreciate everything that God has created. He can do so much, and has done so much, and sadly, we often get so caught up in ourselves, others, and worldly struggles and desires, that we become blind to His wonderful creations.

Sometimes, when we are going through a rough patch in our lives, we tend to look for God for help. He wants us to want Him. And I think that these fireflies were a reminder to us that He really has done so much for us. There are tons of people in the world that don’t ever, and won’t ever, get to experience anything like this. You see, when you think about it that way, it kind of makes you even more grateful. It makes you realize what you do have, instead of complaining about what you don’t have. It makes you grateful for every single little thing that Christ has ever done for you.

Among our troubles caused by Satan, God will always find a way to add little pleasures in for us, to alleviate us from the stress and/or pain. He wants us to be happy and joyful and know what He has done for us.

While Katie (my other sister) and I were outside, she mentioned a song that we sang this year for our school choir called “Majesty & Glory.” It was basically about all the wonderful things that God has created for us and how He has “put us in charge of all creation.”

I do believe that He has created things like this parade of fireflies for us for our pleasure. He wants us to be happy and to sincerely appreciate what He has done for us.

Things like these are simply reminders of God’s love for us. He demonstrates His love for us through the simple things in life that bring us joy. Joy is being able to pick up the pieces and smile through it, with God’s help. Nothing would be possible without His love.

Nice job, girls. I couldn’t have said it any better.

______________________

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.

Don’t Just Manage Symptoms… Guest Blog by David e White

[I’m honored today to have David e White write a guest blog. He has terrific insight for all leaders. Take time to check out his bio below.]

Don’t Just Manage Symptoms, Yield to Transformation

by David e White

If all of your symptoms were gone, would you then consider yourself healed, whole or transformed?

David e White, today's guest blogger
David e White, today’s guest blogger

Within the process of carrying out our responsibilities as leaders we are often called to deal with situations that require intervention and/or mediation. With our calendars full and priorities urgently pressing on us, it is understandable that we often assess health at a superficial level. If the crisis of the day has not served to burn the whole place down, good enough! We turn our back on the situation and carry on.

Sometimes we will even ignore warning signs as we deem them to be minor within the context of all that we are doing, like when the warning light on the dash of our car indicates low air pressure in one or more of our tires. We have seen the light on before and checked the tires with a pressure gauge, only to find that the tire was merely 1 or 2 psi low – no big deal. We become accustomed to ignoring gauges and warning lights and we continue driving forward, hoping for the best.

I have a friend who once told me about how she had to replace the engine in her mini-van. She had been so busy that she did not bother to stop and check the oil level, and found that the vehicle was not willing to negotiate with her to continue moving forward once it ran out of oil.

If you have been a leader for any length of time, you will have been told that self-care is important, so I will spare you the lecture – but simply point out that we can know something and ignore it at the same time, and that doesn’t really move us forward.

Maybe you can relate to how Gregory Campbell might have felt during the 2nd period of Game 3 in the 2013 Eastern Conference final of the National Hockey League playoffs. Campbell, a forward for the Boston Bruins, was struck by a shot and suffered a broken leg. His team was short-handed at the time, and he was unable to get off the ice, so he continued to try to play – with a broken fibula! They may have seen Campbell floundering, but no one in the stands would have known the extent of the injury.

Personal story

I can relate to Campbell. I continued to serve when I knew that I was broken. I had been to several counselors to assess my situation, and all a plant is growing out of a lockof them were fine with me returning to the game. In fact, my symptoms were often alleviated through their care, but my healing did not run deep enough to sustain me in the long run.

Now in my recovery, I look back and see that there is a theme woven through church life and leadership: If you can manage the symptoms, and all appears to be well – just keep playing the game. The need is great, for we are short-handed, and the game is on the line.

I was afraid of failure, and of letting others down. I was afraid of being discovered and of the judgment that might ensue. Locked in a battle of the will and imprisoned by my fear, I tried to become a better man in isolation – but I found that there was no way to win this battle on my own. While I would readily admit to holding the highest esteem for anyone who faced challenge and defeat with courage, I was at the same time terrified to be that guy; I was afraid to be the one I respected most.

Cutting to the chase

Why as leaders do we continue to drive forward when we know that something is wrong? What is so urgent and/or important that we are willing to ignore the signs that would suggest engine failure is imminent? The stories recorded here at fallenpastor.com (such as these) remind us of the dire consequences of ignoring our health.

James Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge, identify “modeling the way” as one of five practices of exemplary leadership. They are just two of a host of voices that would echo the same sentiment. The best of leaders lead by example. Given that there isn’t a single person on the planet who has not failed, is it possible that one of the greatest gifts we could pass on to others is the modeling of humility and courage to face our own brokenness?

It is a tragedy when we lose a leader. It would be a tragedy to lose you. Don’t be content with symptom management. Take the time to heal, and start a revolution in transformation by modeling the way for others.

_____________________

About David e White:

I have over 20 years of executive leadership experience, but I’ve also been a laborer, salesperson, manager, and consultant – even a professional musician! I have experienced the thrill of rapid growth and prosperity, but also the pain of downsizing and recession. I have been the leader who made the magic happen – I’ve made the tough decisions – I have also been the guy that got blown up by decisions made by others, and even a few I made on my own. Through it all I have learned how to be resilient and thrive in the aftermath of both scenarios.

I write, speak and coach in the area of leadership and organizational resilience. My content is anchored in the bedrock of core values, and I have come to appreciate that grace and love are wonderful gifts.  I work to inspire, encourage and equip leaders with principles for resilience. Principles that enable you to persevere adapt and excel through life’s challenges, change, uncertainty and crisis.

I would be delighted to have you as a companion on this journey. I post weekly at www.davidewhite.ca.

_____________________

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.

Guest Blog: Matching the Chip

Honored today to have Diana Savage, published author and friend, writing a guest post. Please take the time to read more about her below. Also, take time to check out her new book, “52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.” The floor is yours, Diana…

Matching the Chip

by Diana Savage

“God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love” (Psalm 103:8 MSG).

When a homeowner hired a man to paint her living room, she handed the painter a little paint chip and said, “I want the walls this same shade.”

He mixed paint and covered one wall with it, but she wasn’t satisfied. “It’s not a perfect match,” she explained.

He tried again. And again. After his fifth attempt, the woman continued to point to the chip. “You don’t have quite the same color.”

When he told a friend about it the following week, the friend asked, “Were you ever able to get the correct shade?”

“No. But she was okay after a long phone call to her mom.”

“You mean her mother convinced her that a perfect match wasn’t possible?”

“No,” said the painter. “While she was on the phone, I painted the chip.”ChristmasCurls

Often we perfectionists resort to “painting the chip” in order to present a flawless image to others. Perfection isn’t possible, but we learned early in life that the only nice thing about being imperfect is the joy it brings to others. One of my most vivid lessons on that subject took place when a Sunday-school teacher assigned me a “piece” to memorize for our holiday program.

Mom combed tangles from my never-cut locks. Then she washed my hair and rolled it up in little blue rubber curlers to dry over the next two days. She did that only twice a year—at Easter and Christmas. When the curlers came out on Sunday morning, I put on my best dress, and we left for church in the family Studebaker.

Not everyone in my class was so prim and proper. Fidgety Willard Jackson always seemed to be getting into one scrape after another. Even his first and last names were troublesome. They both sounded like surnames to me, and I had trouble remembering their proper order.

My strict upbringing had already taught me that if I followed rules, I had a better chance of escaping punishment. So, when the teacher stressed that we needed to deliver our pieces s-l-o-w-l-y, I paid attention.

The morning of the program, we all filed onto the platform. I proudly and loudly recited my holiday rhyme in a slow, measured cadence. My parents’ beaming faces assured me I had done a good job.

Then it was my high-strung classmate’s turn. He rattled off his piece so fast, it was unintelligible. To my surprise, the teacher didn’t correct the boy, so I turned toward the end of the line and said loudly enough for him to hear, “Slow down, Jackson!”

The audience erupted in laughter.

I wanted to die. Everyone’s laughing at me for getting his first and last names mixed up! I thought. I could only hope my gaffe would soon be forgotten. Instead, it became a Family Legend. I was in my fifties before I could even smile about it.

Many perfectionists who struggle with insecurity have been fettered by rigid rules and hammered by such Bible verses as Matthew 5:48 (NIV), “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Talk about an impossible goal! Some Bible scholars believe Jesus was saying that aiming for perfection is what’s important, even if we can never truly be perfect. Others, looking at the scriptural context, assert that the previous verses in Matthew 5 emphasize a Christian’s duty to love, so anyone who loves can be considered perfect. As a child, I knew nothing of those interpretations. All I knew was that in order to be acceptable, I couldn’t make mistakes.

Most perfectionistic Christians have difficulty understanding the true nature of God. We were taught to be on constant guard because the Almighty’s wrath was just a lightning bolt away.

Although I wasn’t worried that my comment to antsy Willard would make me miss heaven, I was humiliated by what I perceived to be everyone’s scorn and derision. I was ashamed because I’d failed to pull off a flawless performance. It took studying Scripture using correct principles of interpretation to see how loving, patient, and kind God really is. In fact, God knows better than we do that attaining perfection is impossible in this life. King David declared, “The Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13–14).

While it’s never fun to let others see our dusty side, we struggling perfectionists need to realize that we’re valuable individuals even when we miss the mark. The good news is, God doesn’t punish us for our fallibility. Instead, he makes up the difference when we trust in him. He also knows we don’t need reminders of every commandment and regulation. We’ve already got ’em memorized. What we need is grace.

52Coming to understand the true definition of grace stops me from panicking whenever I end up a slightly different shade than the model paint chip. I’ve learned that the Master Painter will still make room for me in his palette.

Right there next to Jackson.

Compassionate Father, thank you for releasing me from the prison of persnicketiness and for your assurance that you won’t reject me when I fail to measure up to impossible standards of perfection. Amen.

Adapted from: 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times. Copyright © 2014 by Diana Savage. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.

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Diana Savage has worked for years working in Christian organizations. She has spent time mentoring, speaking and writing and you can see her at work on her website, www.heartlifters.net. She has contributed to many works over the years including two Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. You can also find her on Twitter.

Diana cares about people, their hearts and it shines through in her writing and her ministry. Besides being a talented writer, she has become a friend to me. Please do take the time to check out her work as well as her new book. As soon as I can wrestle my copy away from my wife, I’ll be writing a review.

Guest Blog: Transparency and the Glory of God

I always love to have people write guest blogs for me. It gives me an opportunity to showcase other ministries and viewpoints. Today is Gavin Croft of Isaiah 53 Ministry – a friend I made recently. Take time to visit his site and give him your support.

by Gavin M. Croft

I shared the story of my past pornography addiction and subsequent healing and restoration with my church recently from the pulpit. I had pulpittmentioned various aspects of my past in previous sermons and have even been accused of talking about sexual purity too much. But this was the first time that I laid out my story with some details, explaining how our marriage has been restored, how I found a measure of healing and now am able to minister to others who are in similar situations.

I have always planned on sharing my story with my church; I just wanted it to be organic and natural. You have to pick your spots. But it is a part of my life and God is using my past failures in mighty ways, so I knew that it was necessary. We were finishing up an 8-week series from Psalm 51 (yes, I know, 8 weeks in Psalm 51 is a bit much.)

When we arrived at verses 12 and 13 and I knew it was the perfect opportunity: 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

David, being a transgressor and a sinner, is able to minister and teach other transgressors and sinners because he has found a measure of healing. The joy of his salvation has been restored, and his spirit is willing to be used by God. David had become a wounded minister of reconciliation (1 Cor. 5:16-21).

The main point of the sermon was that we all have a story, we all have a past, we all have fallen terribly short of the glory of God, but God is willing and able to use us in spite of our failures. God is using our story for His glory. And God desires His children to live in a family community of love, trust and transparency, where broken people can minister to other broken people (Psalm 51:17) and together they can worship (vs. 15) and find God’s favor (vs. 19).

I must admit, I was a bit nervous how the church was going to react to my story. My wife was even more nervous. It is always a scary thing to be so transparent with people, even people you know and love. Would they look at us differently? Would they talk about us over lunch? Do they think the reason I set up procedures for ministerial staff to have accountability software on their computers and devices was so I wouldn’t fall back into sin? Any number of questions were flailing around in our heads. But, as far as I know, everyone took the message really well. At least no one has said anything to me personally.

mancomputI can’t dictate what they say once they leave the church or what they whisper to each other. But that can’t be my concern. My concern is exhorting the truth of Scripture and allowing my story to be used for God’s glory.

I am so thankful and appreciative of other men and women who are allowing their story to be used for God’s glory. They very easily could have rolled over and never ministered again after their sin, but that’s not what God wants. David was still able to minister. Did he suffer consequences from his sin? Absolutely. Devastating consequences. But he persevered nonetheless.

If you are a fallen pastor or church leader, I would encourage you to seek God on how your story can be used for His glory. Take time to heal. Take time to be restored. Get out of sin if you haven’t yet. And when the time is right, God will present you with the opportunity. And others will be the benefactors of your healing.

Psalm 51:12-13: Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

Gavin is the pastor of a small Southern Baptist Church in SWFL. His purity and his marriage have been restored by the grace of God and the forgiveness of his wife. His desire is to glorify the name of Jesus Christ throughout SWFL and to the ends of the earth. God has also given the Crofts a unique ministry opportunity with their site www.isaiah53ministry.org. There, men and women can find help, support and resource for dealing with sexual sin and betrayal.

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Ray Carroll is author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.” If you are a fallen pastor, a pastor in trouble, a church whose pastor has fallen, or need someone to talk to your group about preventing ministry failure, please feel free to contact Ray here. All messages will be kept confidential.

Guest Blog By My 10 Year Old Daughter

katieSo, I was blogging the other day and my daughter Katie said, “Can I write a blog?” I said, “Really?” She said, “Yeah, but don’t read it while I write it!”

I was hesitant a bit, but I let my lovely 10 year old write. She said, “It’s done!” She wanted to write about what it was like being the daughter of “The Fallen Pastor.” She’s a very smart young woman and I’m very proud of her.

I’m really proud of all my kids. And I’m proud of her for wanting to do this. I learned something and I think we all can. So, here’s Katie:

Ok, so I really don’t know what to say so I’m just gonna say my daddy is awesome to start off. I love him so much!

When the whole THING happened I was six or seven so I didn’t know what was going on and now I’m ten and I understand almost everything about it. I forgave him right off the bat and so did my awesome sister Abigail. It was hard for me and my sister the first couple months then it got better then hard again  then easy again.

People say we have it really easy but nobody ever asked the kid that  “has it really easy” if they thought that they did! Times have been really hard especially at the  beginning of everything when people could have forgiven daddy and been nice to him but still might be a little mad, acted mean and daddy handled it very calmly.

I don’t know what I would do without by dad because he has taught me a lot in life and I’m so glad he is in my life! And I promise you, he didn’t tell me to write ANY of this stuff! Have a wonderful day! :]

Sincerely,

Katie

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I would add, Katie, I love you very much too. I didn’t always handle everything “very calmly.” But since then, I’ve tried to do better. I hope you can see it. – Daddy

“You Aren’t Who They Say You Are,” Guest Blog

I had the pleasure of writing a guest blog for my friend Mark at his blog, “Here I Blog.” If you haven’t read his stuff, you’re missing out.

My post is entitled, “You Aren’t Who They Say You Are.”  It’s about how we perceive ourselves and how we perceive others perceptions of us. Make sense? Thanks to Mark for posting it. Head on over and take a look.

Please take the time to check it out. “You Aren’t Who They Say You Are,” Guest Blog

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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.

Returning From a Fall: Walking God’s Slow Path Home

(Today’s post is brought to you by my friend, Roy Yanke. There’s more about him below. He is one of the many fine people I have met whose mission it is to help pastors who have left the ministry. Today, this blog belongs to him. Make sure you check out his ministry and blog sites listed below. He’s doing some remarkable things.)

Long Time Now, by T-Bone Burnett

I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for the long time now

I can hear the footsteps
Following behind me
Trying to find me
But when I turn around
I can’t see where the path goes
Into the shadows
Into the shadows

I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for the long time now

I can hear you breathing
Whispering in my ear
There is nothing to fear
But when I turn around
As I see the trees bow
I only hear the wind blow

By mistake I felt alone
In my heart I’ve always known
You’d be there to bring me home

I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for the long time now

There are no shortcuts coming back from a fall.

None of us wants to live with the pain, the shame, or the consequences of moral failure. The temptation, fairly soon after we fall, is to try to find a fast track back to where we once were. It is a common temptation, not exclusive to pastors. It is very difficult to sit with failure for very long. We believe that if we can just get moving again, the pain will disappear, people will forget and we, too, will forget the loss.

I have become convinced that this does not reflect the path that God has in mind for us; especially if we are going to recover and be restored in our most significant relationships. Often His plan involves a long period of waiting.

In 1991, my external world fell apart. I was an active, serious and committed pastor of a small but growing church. On the outside, everything looked great. But my internal world had been crumbling for some time. Baggage I had carried with me into my walk with Jesus had come with me into ministry. I was living a double life and, as is typical, the tension created by trying to manage my own sin couldn’t last for long. It was God’s severe mercy that brought me up short, turned the world upside down for me and all those around me, and sent me out of ministry.

It has now been more than two decades since the day God started to rework my life. As the years passed, I have journeyed through a great deal of shame and have answered a whole lot of questions. I needed to be restored in my relationship with God, my family and the Church, and a return to ministry was honestly never an option that occurred to me. But in the course of my journey, God’s great grace has been revealed through small steps and continual confirmations that He wasn’t through with me.

It took several years before I was finally able to ask, “Would God be angry at me if I thought about returning to ministry?” His answer was a clear one, given through the counsel of those around me who knew me best: “I am not angry, and I am not done with you yet!” That “return” has been incremental – reawakening the gifts God has given in the midst of our church family. Still, it took a “chance” breakfast meeting with a new friend last December to see God open the door to a return to full-time ministry – fully 21 years after my exit. Today, I am the Midwest Regional Director of PIR Ministries – a ministry that exists solely for the purpose of offering hope to at-risk and exited pastors.

The temptation to short cut God’s process in my life has reared its ugly head at various points along the way. But I have learned a hard lesson: trying to kick the door in, to find a quicker way out of the consequences of our failures, never accomplishes God’s purposes. There is purpose in pain. There is much to be learned in the long journey back. The biblical examples are there, too. It was 40 years after he committed murder that Moses was given the mantle of leadership for God’s people. Paul spent at least 3 years in the desert after his conversion, before Barnabas went looking for him.

As humans, we may always be in a rush, but God’s purposes and timing are perfect. There is another song, a worship song, which reminds me that, regardless of how long the journey, “He never let’s go!

I am so glad to be a part of a ministry that believes it is possible to be restored from failure. I am also glad that the value of pain is written right into our mission statement. And, I am glad that we believe in a process of renewal that begins with being restored to God, family, and fellowship in the church FIRST. With that comes the knowledge and acceptance that not all who are restored are reinstated to a role of leadership.

At PIR Ministries, we come alongside the exited and fallen pastors to remind them that, no matter how long the wait, there is always a way back to restoration through Christ.

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Roy Yanke

Midwest Regional Director

PIR Ministries

www.exited-pastors.com

www.pirministries.com