I hear from fallen pastors on a weekly basis. This ministry is a joy because there’s not much out there like it. When I fell four years ago, I felt useless. Now God has transformed my brokenness and allowed me to be useful once again.
When I talk to them on the phone, it’s almost always the same. I can hear the desperation. They sound like I did right after I got caught in my sin. They don’t know me. They don’t know if they can trust me. Then I start talking to them. We trade stories. I tell them there is hope. That Christ does indeed love them. That’s why I’d like to share this with you – it’s something I share with a lot of the men who I talk to. It’s a simple prayer for the fallen pastor.
These men know they have sinned. But there is forgiveness. Will the journey be long as they repent and move forward? Yes. Will it be difficult? Yes.
They always have so many questions. “What do I do about my wife? She’s so angry. She should be. I’ve never seen her this mad.” “What about my children?” “What about the church?” “What am I supposed to do about work?” “I’ve disappointed my parents and my family, what do I do?” “What was I thinking?” “It’s just so hopeless. What am I supposed to think?”
The questions are all to familiar. They bring back to me that day when my sin came to light. The day when my sin was exposed. Everyone knew. I deserved the consequences. And all I wanted to do was hide and let the rocks pummel me to death. And as the days and weeks went on it got worse and worse. I wanted to destroy myself and I hated myself.
So when I get a fallen pastor to talk to me, I know I can offer him hope. The hope that Christ really does love him. He loves us in spite of our sin. I can offer him the knowledge that I love him. Even though he doesn’t know me and I really don’t know him, I just love him because he needs a friend and because we share a common story. I can give him the hope that God takes care of those who repent and despite their sin, they choose to live the next day in a walk toward brokenness and obedience.
There’s always the question, “What do I do about all this stuff going on around me? How can I fix my marriage, my life, my family . . . everything?”
I like to tell them to stop worrying about the things they can’t control at the moment. They’ve sinned. There are going to be consequences for the rest of their life. Those are things that they will have to deal with on a daily basis and it’s going to be difficult for a while. I tell them I have a network of people who can help them with all kinds of things. I tell them they’re going to need to start building a group of men who will be strong with them and help restore them back to Christ.
When I share this prayer, it is after I know they’ve asked God for forgiveness and I know they’ve taken the first few simple steps toward repentance. I tell them that asking for forgiveness from God for their adultery isn’t necessary. He’s forgotten it. In fact, if we bring it up to Him, it’s a one way conversation. We’re the ones introducing into the conversation. He’s not.
But I tell them, “What you need right now is the most simple prayer you’ve ever prayed. You could go to God right now and say, ‘God, help my marriage, help my family, help my church, help my finances, help my relationships.’ And that would be okay. He understands that prayer.”
But in those first few weeks, I like to remember what Jesus said during the sermon on the mount. He told his followers that our Heavenly Father already knows what we need. Now, that’s obviously not a command to stop praying.
Instead, I like to encourage these men to make their constant prayer a simple one. God needs one thing from them right now. They are at a crisis moment. And their ministry, life, and marriage fell apart for a simple reason – they lost fellowship with Christ. So I introduce them to a most simple prayer:
“Lord, you know the circumstances in my life. What I would like you to do is show me the man you want me to become in all of this. Break my heart, humble me, and turn me into a man who is pleasing to you.”
I believe that if we allow God to change who we are – to fix what was broken in the first place – then the rest will fall into place.
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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.
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