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Four Reasons Ministry Marriages Fail

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, marriage, ministry, prevention, wife | Posted on 19-02-2014


lovingwifeWhen I tell regular church people that ministry marriages are often stressful and difficult, they find it hard to believe. Their disbelief extends even further when I tell the people in the pews that the most stressful issues between pastors and their wives is the ministry itself, they think I’m crazy.

When I tell the same thing to most active pastors or fallen pastors, they most often say, “You’re right.”

When I wrote my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” I knew there were problems with a lot of ministry marriages, but when I did the statistical research, I was shocked myself. Here are a few stats that I dug up (full citations available in the book):

  • 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses are discouraged and dealing with depression
  • More than 40% of pastors and 47% of their spouses report they are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules and unrealistic expectations
  • 77% of pastors said they felt they did not have a good marriage
  • 30% said they had either been in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner
  • 81% of pastors report insufficient time with their spouse
  • 64% report communication difficulty with their spouse
  • 46% report sexual problems
  • 80% of ministers believed pastoral ministry affected their families negatively
  • 33% believed ministry was a hazard to their family
  • 37% confessed to having been involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church

So what’s happening? Sure, ministry is difficult and it comes at a price. There is persecution and weariness. But should it come at such a great cost to the minister? Is proper ministry supposed to be tearing apart the family?

I don’t believe so. I submit that it’s possible that what many pastors are doing isn’t what God equipped them to do. They’re frankly doing too much under their own power. They’re attempting to do the work of an entire church body when they’re only equipped to affairdo the work of the pastor or head elder.

In turn, the pastor spreads himself too thin, has little time for his family and wife and leaves himself open for marriage, ministry, and other types of failure.

I’d like to add a few more reasons why ministry marriages fail. There are things I’ve witnessed over the years that have happened which could be avoided or prevented.

1. Lots of pastors spend so much time doing the work of ministry that they forget about the why of ministry. They start doing programs and laboring so hard over contacts, visiting, networking and growth that they forget about the Christ who promised to build His church. They forget that in the beginning when they started, all they knew was that Christ called them – an imperfect person – to simply preach the Word. Somewhere along the way, things got added to the workload and they made things too difficult.

2. Lots of guys when they got married weren’t pastors. Therefore, their wives didn’t really marry a pastor. Now, I know what someone will say, “God equips the wife like he equips the man.” Listen, it’s a little harder than that. The stress and difficulty of being a pastor’s wife can be overwhelming. And when a woman marries a guy who one day is an over the road truck driver and the next he’s a preacher? Yeah, it can be a little confusing for his wife.

She’s going to need some help easing into that role with grace. She’s going to find her role that God has designed for her within the ministry – and it may not be the exact same as every other minister’s wife. Unfortunately, if she’s forced into a role unwillingly by a church, it can cause undue stress at church and in the home.

3. Sometimes, a ministry couple gets to a place where they just can’t talk about church anymore. I’ve talked to a lot of pastors whose wives have said, “Stop complaining to me about the people at church! They’re nice to me and all you do is complain!” Why does the pastor complain to his wife about problems at church? Honestly, he often has no one else to talk to or vent his problems to. And his wife does get weary of hearing him complain and puts a stop to it. Unfortunately what her husband hears is, “I don’t care about your problems. Go find someone else to talk to.” It’s never good when the ministry couple stops communicating.

sorrycoup4. Over time, there can become a lack of intimacy in the marriage. There are two types of intimacy that need to be maintained. First, spiritual intimacy. Many pastors can get so worn down spiritually during the week that they just don’t feel like having prayer time or spiritual time with their wife or family. And if spiritual intimacy is lost or they stop communicating, then physical intimacy will also suffer.

So what can be done? Pastors, if you’re in trouble, you may not even realize it. Too often, we’re trying to fix other people’s problems and we don’t realize that we have serious issues of our own. How is your marriage? Are you communicating with your wife? When was the last time you had a night out? Are you attracted to another woman? Do you treat your wife as well as you treat other women at church?

Has your wife ever warned you about spending too much time at work or shown concern that you might need help? Are you staying extra hours away from home because you dread going there? Are you increasingly angry at your family or find yourself aggravated more?

Friends, don’t let this get out of hand. Talk to a friend. Talk to a fellow pastor or an associational leader. I’m here and I’ll listen to anyone who needs help. If I can’t help I can probably find someone who can. There are others out there to listen. Be honest with your wife. But know that the worst thing you can do is ignore the problems.

*EDIT: I am sorry if you read this when George Washington’s farewell address was somehow posted at the end. Don’t ask me how that happened.


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

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

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

Pastors and Divorce

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, fallenness, forgiveness, Hershael York, marriage, pastors, reconciliation, relationships | Posted on 12-12-2013


2percentMany pastors who have committed adultery end up with the woman they commit adultery with. I was one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can read the statistics all I want. That a majority of ministry couples feel that serving in the church has a harmful effect upon their marriage. That most ministry couples experience anxiety and depression.

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

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

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

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

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

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

trustIf you and your wife are on the path to divorce, seek the heart of Christ. Don’t be an angry person. Always be thinking about your children. Don’t respond with hatred when you receive hatred. Remember that the reason your spouse is acting as she does is because you did what you did. Show true, repentant humility.

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

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

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

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

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


Ray Carroll is the 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.

Pastor Ron Carpenter: Can Ministry Failure Be Prevented?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, church, churches, leadership, marriage, ministry, pastoring, pastors | Posted on 15-10-2013


ron2by Ray Carroll (please see below for contact info)

Pastor Ron Carpenter of Redemption World Outreach Center reported to his church on Sunday that his wife had been having multiple affairs for the past ten years. There is much to the story and you can read it in many different places. It is a very large ministry and the pastor, after telling the story of his wife, said she had been committed to rehab for a month and that they would not be reconciling. Also, he has planned to stay in the ministry.

There are two things I can guarantee. First, the only people who know anything close to the truth are he and his wife. This whole horrible, messy situation will take years to figure out and the consequences will come to bear for a long time. It is a heart wrenching situation that God can sort out.

Secondly, people on the outside really have no idea what is going on and fruitless discussion is not helpful.  In every article I read, there were hundreds of comments of people discussing, tearing apart and going on about the issue. There was a lot of defending, attacking, and slinging of various Scripture passages, names and profanity.

The one thing that was lacking was any real discussion on the core of this issue. I fell from the ministry four years ago. And since that time I’ve been on this blog ministering to fallen pastors, their churches, wives, and the women they were with.

Even though this pastor’s wife fell, I can almost guarantee that the issues that occur before a pastor commits adultery. The same weaknesses that befall most ministry couples is what brings ruin over and over again. It’s the same pattern that I outline in my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.”

Ministry in today’s world is high pressure and resembles life in a fish bowl for the pastor’s family. With a world of overly high expectations, poor relationship with spouse, church conflict and other predictable problems, many of the failures in ministry can be prevented. Statistics bear out that many of our ministers are in serious peril (these statistics and more are in my book):

80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses are discouraged and dealing with depressionfallen

More than 40% of pastors and 47% of their spouses report they are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules and unrealistic expectations

Approximately 1,500 pastors leave their assignments each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention within their local congregations

89% of pastors stated they considered leaving the ministry at one time

Pastor Carpenter and his family are in an awful place and need prayer and support. The people who should be at the forefront, ready to help in such a crisis are the members of church leadership.

Unfortunately, many times, church leadership is ill equipped when a pastor falls. What would be even more ideal is to have a godly church leadership who works with the minister to keep him ready and accountable, always aiding the pastor and his family, to prevent such an awful failure.

Most churches, pastors, church leaders, associations, denominations are not set up to prevent such catastrophes. Hardly any are able to deal with the issue when a pastor commits adultery or commits another major sin.

Reconciling With A Fallen Pastor, Part 5: Reconciling An Old WoundThat’s one of the reasons this website is here – to help any who reach out. And hopefully in the coming weeks, with any who are willing and ready, to begin to put together tools/conferences/aids for those who want to stop this horrible epidemic in our nation’s churches.

So what about Pastor Carpenter and his family? What can any of us do? Know that God is in control of all things and that He does respond to repentant people. This situation, whatever is going on, will not be fixed in weeks or months, but years.

Also, if your church is not working to prevent pastoral or leadership failure, start figuring out how to do it. Does your church have a plan in place if your pastor falls? Will you respond with grace and mercy or with shame? This situation should give everyone pause and a moment to think about how close any of us are to sin.


Are you a fallen pastor, burned out pastor, pastor on the brink or a church that has gone through a tough time? You might start out by reading, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.” There are a lot of things in there that will help pastors prevent ministry failure and a lot of things to help pastors after they fall. There are also helps for churches whose pastors have fallen.

Need more help than that? Feel free to contact the author of this blog and the book, Ray Carroll. He’d love to talk to you. Anything you say will be kept confidential.

Christians and “Sexting”

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, marriage, relationships, sexting | Posted on 07-10-2013


Seriously. This blog is biblically based. But it also has some warnings for everyone.sexting

I’m going to start with my own story. For those of you who don’t know, I fell in the ministry. I was a pastor of a church and I committed adultery. Afterwards, I wrote a book about it and interviewed pastors, experts, counselors, looking for common signs, patterns and help for those who fall. It’s not a book for just pastors, but for church members, leaders and anyone who is tempted.

But what I want to blog about today is our social networking. Texting. Back in the day, men would write letters to their adulterous partners so they wouldn’t be discovered. Today? It’s so much easier. We have Twitter, Facebook, and texting. When a married man is really interested in a woman, all he has to do is have her number and he can text her.

In fact, I know a lot of men (including me), who texted women they were interested in, saying suggestive things and before they got home to their wives, deleted the whole conversation.

It’s rampant. You don’t think it’s a problem? About a year ago, Rev. Cedric Miller told his congregation not to use Facebook.  Why? Because it was easy to “hook up” with former acquaintances and talk to them in a sinful manner. He’s got a point. Social media allows us to talk to people we don’t know who have all kinds of physical and emotional needs and we are tempted by them.

Here’s my honesty. Before I committed physical adultery, I was texting my lover. She’s my current wife. You can read all the details in my book. We started harmlessly texting day after day. We got on Yahoo chat and talked. Then, things accelerated.

I know I have a wide audience. Pastors, fallen pastors, wives of fallen pastors, regular people, whomever. Listen, the sin of adultery is right around the corner for everyone. Don’t think you’re immune. Because you’re not.

You know what the easiest thing about texting is? You say things you wouldn’t normally say to a person face to face. You have so much bravado in writing that you put it out there. It’s easier to have a sexual relationship in texting, Facebook inbox or private Twitter direct message than in real life. And from there, the fantasy grows. A lot of you know what I’m talking about. And right now, if you’re married and doing it, you need to put your iPhone down.

sexting2The circus of the information highway cannot replace the real relationship you have with your spouse. If you have problems, fix them. Realize why you have a problem. Don’t rush out to a new relationship and feed your inner Frankenstein-like libido before you destroy everything around you. Get a grip.

You say, “Yeah, easy for you to say, Fallen Pastor. You left your wife, got caught and married the woman you had an affair with.” Fine. Go read my back story. I’ll tell you this – there’s a lot of pain in there. I love my wife. She’s my best friend. But I’m telling you that “sexting” had a big part of our relationship. And if you think that it’s something you can control or it’s something you can easily handle, you’re wrong.

No one who has fallen into adultery has an easy story. It’s not all champagne and flowers. It’s tough and rocks your world. Here’s a statistic I didn’t put in my book: Only 2% of couples who marry after an adulterous relationship make their marriage last. Get that?

Because of the availability of technology, we find it easy to flirt. Whether we are pastors, community leaders, blue-collar workers, stay at home moms, pipe-fitters, or church members. No one is immune. It’s not technology’s fault either, so don’t blame it. It’s our fault. We are the users.

I wrote a passionate blog about Congressman Anthony Weiner a while back. He fell badly. Because he sent out photo texts to his lover. Was technology to blame? Nope. His own lust and sin was.

You have to be careful. At all times.

So when is it okay to “sext“? Believe it or not there is an okay time to do it. With your spouse. Some may think I’m going out on a limb here, but when spouses are separated because of work, time shifts, distance or other things, go for it. You say, “Really?” I say, “Heck yes.”

Hebrews 13:4 says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judgeheb the sexually immoral and adulterous.

Listen, if there’s a place for people to talk suggestively to one another, it’s in a marriage. But let me be clear. You have to make sure your marriage is in the right place. Men, you cannot expect your wife to respond to you if you are not meeting her needs emotionally. You have to be a romantic man, a Renaissance man. Rub her feet after a long day. Surprise her with a slow dance with a song on your iPhone. Let her know she’s the only woman you love.

For the love of all that is right, read Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages.” You say, “I’m not big on books.” Well, then, you need to read this one. Make your relationship right. Learn how to love your wife right. If you’re willing to sext some woman on your phone without any thought, then you should put more work into your marriage.

You say, “Well, you cheated on your wife.” Listen, that’s why I’m trying to help. This world isn’t perfect, is it? But what if you could have a terrific relationship with your wife? Go for it. Make things right at home. Get the help you need. But please, don’t seek anyone out that isn’t your spouse. Love your wife first. Romance her. Love her. Recapture the flame.

And I’m not joking, but sexting between man and wife is absolutely okay.


Helpful articles about sexting:

XXXchurch.com: http://www.xxxchurch.com/parents/sexting.html





Are you a fallen pastor, burned out pastor, pastor on the brink or a church that has gone through a tough time? You might start out by reading, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.” There are a lot of things in there that will help pastors prevent ministry failure and a lot of things to help pastors after they fall. There are also helps for churches whose pastors have fallen.

Need more help than that? Feel free to contact the author of this blog and the book, Ray Carroll. He’d love to talk to you. Anything you say will be kept confidential.

Pastors & Killer Expectations, 4: Ready, Set, Humilify!

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Christ, church, church members, churches, communication, expectations, fallenness, humillity, marriage, pastoring, pastors | Posted on 02-10-2013


humilityMy family went on vacation last summer to St. Louis. During the trip, our youngest, Leslie, made up a word. She didn’t mean to, it just came out. And it was pretty funny – she said something like, “Why is that guy being such a tweezernozzer?” A new word was born. Tweezernozzer can be a verb, noun or adjective. “That guy sure is a tweezernozzer.” “Luke, I am your tweezernozzer.” “I’m going to go out and tweezernozzer after I make about $1,000.”

The girls wore the word out from Mt. Vernon, Illinois (the place of the word’s creation) to St. Louis.

I mention it because if you’ve been reading the last few posts, you’ll understand that pastors face killer expectations and need to do something about it. Something serious. Killer expectations come from a lot of different places, they can’t be juggled and you can’t simply cope with them. Killer expectations, if they’re not dealt with, are one of the leading causes of pastoral burnout or ministry failure. It’s a topic I deal with extensively in my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.”

So what is a pastor supposed to do with these extremely high expectations that come from without, within and can be as overbearing as a category five hurricane?

A pastor has to learn to learn a new word. Like tweezernozzer. But it’s the word humilify. I’m sure the word exists in someone else’s imagination out there. If I wasn’t too lazy to Google it, I’m sure I could find it on the interwebs. Humility is a state of being. And it’s a great word. But I like humilify better. It came to me while I was thinking about this post. The pastor has to actively appropriate humility to every area of his life. There’s not really a word for that. But there is now.

If the pastor is going to delete killer expectations so he won’t be overcome with stress or defeat, he has got to humilify his entire life. In the last few posts, the point has been made that wrong expectations come from the church’s wrong expectations of the pastor, the pastor’s wrong expectations of himself, or the pastor’s misunderstanding of God’s role for him. Worse, if any mix of these is happening, the pastor can become miserable and begin to carry home his unhappiness and it will begin to erode his marriage.

So what’s a pastor to do with killer expectations? Kick them out the door. I’ve been there and I know it doesn’t sound

Tell those killer expectations to, "Stay out of the Woolworth's!"

Tell those killer expectations to, “Stay out of the Woolworth’s!”

practical at this moment, especially if you are living in a position where you dread going to work each time the church doors open. But I’ve interviewed a lot of guys and I hope the following advice is a little helpful.

1. Realize you are not in the right frame of mind if you are overcome with killer expectations. You could be on one of two ends of the spectrum as a  pastor. You could become idolized and placed on a pedestal. You can also become beat down with expectations. Neither are good places to be in. Know that you do not see yourself objectively. You think you do, but you do not. You may be angry, upset, tired, exhausted, cranky, irritated, or any number of things and not realize it. Go into this situation knowing you need help from your peers. Peers who understand you. Get ready to humilify yourself to someone you can confide in.

2. Get into touch with God, the one who defined you in the first place. If anyone has set up right expectations for you, it’s God. He has placed you where you are and knows you need help if you are in crisis. If you’ve fallen out of fellowship with Him, return to Him. It may not be easy, but do it. Humilify yourself before him. Tell him how weak you are. You might even have to confess that you’ve tried to do more than He called you to do. He will respond and heal you.

3. Communicate with your church leadership. This part may seem like a nightmare to a lot of guys. You don’t have to tell them all at once. There are a few things that may have happened here. The church might not have communicated properly the job expectations to you in the beginning. Church members may have unwritten expectations that are overwhelming you. Or it could be something else. You could be trying to be superpastor. Either way, you’ve got to tell them. Tell them before it burns you out or ruins you. You’re not at that church to ruin yourself or offer yourself and your family as a sacrifice to the gods of overworking. Humilify yourself to your church.

superpast4. Talk to your wife. My mentor used to tell me that a wife has something that men don’t have that is more valuable than gold – intuition. Humilify yourself to your wife and just tell her about how you feel. Tell her about the expectations and what you plan to do about them. Tell her about your plans to communicate with others. You might just discover how smart your wife is.

5. Don’t stop humilifying. When this process is over, it’s going to be easy and fall back into old habits. Don’t do it. You have to remove yourself from it by replacing the old behavior with a new one. Instead of trying to meet old expectations, strive to humilify. Ask yourself, “Why am I desiring to do this new task? Is it for me, for the body of Christ, for my edification, or for someone else’s?

Pastors do a lot of things under the guise of false humility. We will do extracurricular tasks that we know no one else will do and before long, we are over worked and over stressed. The entire time we are doing it and ignoring our families we are telling ourselves, “It’s okay, it will help someone.” Don’t do it anymore. Humilify. Seek God first. Ask Him. If He has a program or activity He really wants done, He’ll find someone to do it, right?

Pastors and churches, we’re here to work together as the body of Christ. Humilifying together. To seek His glory. No one person in the church should ever be overwhelmed with an entire load of work that burns them out so much that they want to pull their hair out. Christ has called us to strive and thrive together.


Are you a fallen pastor, burned out pastor, pastor on the brink or a church that has gone through a tough time? You might start out by reading, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.” There are a lot of things in there that will help pastors prevent ministry failure and a lot of things to help pastors after they fall. There are also helps for churches whose pastors have fallen.

Need more help than that? Feel free to contact the author of this blog and the book, Ray Carroll. He’d love to talk to you. Anything you say will be kept confidential.

My Experiences With Christian Counselors

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, advice, affair, anxiety, burdens, counseling, expectations, marriage, ministry, pastoral care, pastoring, pastors, pride, repentance, therapy | Posted on 30-08-2013


Let me start with a heavy disclaimer. I believe with all my heart that most pastors should be getting help from Christian cc1counselors – certified, helping, loving Christian counselors who understand the perils, struggles and pain of ministry.

Now, I’m going to tell you my personal experience with counselors. It has been hit or miss, but it has mostly been good. Some of them were Christians, some of them not. At the end, I’ll give a summary that I hope will help.

First, I want to tell you that most pastors don’t think they need counseling. They really think they have it all figured out. They counsel church members, so they think they have the answers. Worse, it’s a pride issue. “I don’t need to see anyone. I’ve got a seminary degree,” or “I help other people. God will show me the way.

Nope. We all need a counselor or mentor who will point out or weaknesses, help us through grief, conflict and the pain in our life. A bad thing can happen when we refuse the help of others. We begin to think we are better than others and even look for sin in other people’s lives.

Unfortunately, I have found that the most unforgiving people are those who are within the church. Those who have educations from Christian universities or seminaries. Those who have been lifetime members of churches. Those who believe that once you have violated a commandment, especially as a pastor, you should never be looked upon the same again. Forgiveness is out of your reach. You are a dirty individual. But thank God for His richness in forgiveness and grace. Thank God He does not forgive as most Christians d0. Thank God that He does not judge as most believers do. If that were the case, I would ask to be cast immediately into the 6th ring of hell.

Dr.Bill Leonard, Director of the Ministerial Care for the Church of God said this in my book: “pastors are often the last people to consider counseling and feel they can mend themselves, but it was like a doctor attempting to perform surgery on himself.

The first counselor I ever saw was a guy named Dr. Love. He is the only one I’m actually giving his real name. It was shortly after my college roommate died in a car accident. He put me through a battery of tests, then he started seeing me. I was in such pain and grief and I had to talk to someone. I don’t know if he was a Christian. Looking back at what I’ve learned in psychology classes, he was a behavior specialist and wanted me to talk about my problems, then he would interject ideas to get me to think.

After several months, I had answers that came to me. He was great. He was patient. He helped me realize that I wasn’t the cause of many of my problems, but I could definitely react to the things that were going on around me.

My next counselor was while I was in seminary. I saw her twice. She helped me with some anxiety exercises. I needed that as I have struggled with anxiety and depression my entire life. But it was a band-aid for the pain I really felt.

Counselor in therapy session with mixed race couple.While I was pastoring I saw a guy who was a Christian counselor who I will call Dr. Paul. I was angry at the things my father had done. He ultimately told me that I needed to do something very important – I had to draw a circle around my father, find a way to get along with him and create boundaries. I was resistant to this. I hated my father. But Dr. Paul was right. By the time I took his advice, I had lunch with my father, but a month later, my father died. He was right. Even if we don’t like our family members, we can create Christ like boundaries in which we can relate to them.

A few years later, I started seeing Dr. Klaus. He was a Christian counselor who started seeing me after the death of my mom. He helped me a lot, but after a while, it became repetitious. In fact, he started asking me for advice about his wife. But he gave me decent advice. When I was in the midst of adultery, he never knew it. I lied to him. And I felt awful about lying to him. I even brought my ex-wife into a session. Dr. Klaus said, “Maybe you two should get a separation.” I was actually stunned, but it was the open door that gave me permission to continue on with my life of sin. Dr. Klaus didn’t know that at that point, but it gave  me the go ahead I needed.

Read more after the jump…

The Danger of this Website

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


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

But I need to make sure something is absolutely clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was a devastating experience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lashing Out After A Pastor Falls: How Bad It Can Get

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, anger, bitterness, blame, church, church members, communication, conflict, counseling, divorce, family, forgiveness, Hershael York, humillity, hurt, marriage, reconciliation, repentance, restoration | Posted on 10-05-2013


hurtspLately, both Allison and I have been ministering to fallen ministers and their significant others. A recurring theme has arisen in many of these conversations: “How angry is the ex-wife/husband in the relationship allowed to get?”

Obviously, I have experience in this arena. I hurt my ex horribly with my actions. Hurt is the emotion that arises first, then anger. Then, both of those actions work together in an often disastrous mix. I’m happy to say my former wife and I have a good relationship today.

The sin of adultery is one that cuts right to the core of humanity. Have I felt it? No, but I am the one who caused the hurt. Since my fall from ministry, I have talked to those who have been on both sides of the fence. I have heard stories of messy divorces, arguments in public, punches thrown, and angry things said to children. All of these are the consequences of sin.

The hurt doesn’t just extend to spouses. The hurt runs deep in the church as well. Weeks and months after the fall of the minister, church members hurt and anger can extend to gossip in the community, social media such as Facebook or personal altercations.

The fallen pastor may also take place in the lashing out process. He may engage in the same arenas of speaking out, justifying his actions, showing passive aggressive behavior, or getting defensive when approached.

All three of these groups show similar characteristics. All will probably say they are justified in their anger. The church,yelling spouse and family of the spouse will point to the fallen pastor’s actions as the touchstone of their anger. It will continually be the reason for every angry action they take. “He’s the one who sinned. He caused all of this.”

The pastor who may or may not have asked for forgiveness from God may feel that he has been forgiven. He may say, “God has forgiven me, I’m moving on.”

To be sure, it is a difficult and anxious situation. I know that being in the midst of it is a continually stressful and awful time. For this blog post, I’m going to assume any range of possibilities – that the relationship between pastor and spouse could work out or that it could end in divorce. I pray that any situation be resolved. But I’d like to throw out some suggestions that might help for anyone on either side of the situation. (Also, as a disclaimer, I’m guilty of doing most of these things wrong.)

Christ calls us to be peacemakers. This applies to both sides. Being a peacemaker is not an easy thing. Especially when the other “side” is aggressive and angry. It’s especially difficult when you are also angry and want the other side to understand your position. But when you engage yourself into the position of peacemaker, you are taking upon yourself true humility.

To do so, you have to not allow things to escalate. Regardless of what someone says to you or how they say it, you must stay calm, even and at peace. Realize that peace doesn’t come from circumstances around you, but from Christ within you. Is it difficult? Yes, but it is possible.

Read more after the jump…

Allison, My Wife, My Inspiration

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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