Who Did The Fallen Pastor Sin Against?

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Who Did The Fallen Pastor Sin Against?

I’m the kind of guy who takes things very per­son­ally. If some­one looks at me side­ways, I start to won­der, “What did I do to offend that per­son?” Some peo­ple are just wired that way. I like to act like things just roll off my back but I’m fairly sensitive.

Who Did The Fallen Pastor Sin Against?I’ve got­ten bet­ter since I started blog­ging about not tak­ing things per­son­ally, which is a good thing for all of us to learn. Today, I want to link two ideas together — who the fallen pas­tor sins against when he falls and why that sin can­not be taken per­son­ally. Hold on tight, because while those ideas might seem a bit strange now, I promise they will begin to make sense.

I care about every­one on every side of this issue: Fallen pas­tors, their spouses, those they’ve been involved with, their churches, their fam­i­lies, their fel­low pas­tors, their chil­dren — every­one. Know why? Because they are all wor­thy of the love and care of Christ.

Who gets hurt when a pas­tor falls?

When a pas­tor com­mits adul­tery and falls from the min­istry, it hurts many peo­ple. Since my fall, I’ve had time to lis­ten to peo­ple on every side of the fall. Of course, I was the adul­ter­ous pas­tor. I knew what it was like to be self­ish, leave the min­istry and not lis­ten to anyone.

I’ve also had time to lis­ten to the wives of fallen pas­tors and hear their side of the story. I’ve also heard from the women who com­mit­ted adul­tery with the pas­tor. I’ve talked to church mem­bers and friends of the fallen pas­tor. I’ve seen this issue from all sides and I must say, it has hum­bled me even greater than before.

After a pas­tor com­mits adul­tery, it breaks hearts. It wounds peo­ple. Some­times it ends up on the front page of the news­pa­per if the church is big enough. It always makes the rounds in gos­sip in the com­mu­nity. Regard­less, it is an act that hurts many peo­ple. It angers many. It leaves many ask­ing, “Why? How? What are the reasons?”

Who does the fallen pas­tor sin against?

Let’s take a look at some Scrip­ture. After David com­mit­ted adul­tery with Bathsheba, he wrote Psalm 51. He said in verses 34:

For I know my trans­gres­sions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be jus­ti­fied in your words
and blame­less in your judg­ment.
(Psalm 51:34 ESV)

I used to won­der what David meant when he told God, “Against you, you only, have I sinned.” Surely David knew he had sinned against Bathsheba’s hus­band by killing him. Surely fallen pas­tors know they sin against their own wives when they com­mit adul­tery. So what’s the deal?

Here’s the deal - when any of us sin, the sin debt we owe is owed only to God. (Romans 3:23; 6:23) We will only face Him for judg­ment. Him alone. At the end of it all, we face no man. We face God Almighty. That’s a lot of judg­ment to answer to.

That’s why it’s so impor­tant for us to walk a right­eous path, to be jus­ti­fied in Christ and to then walk a life of holi­ness. We must repent after we have sinned and cry out to God after our transgression.

Tak­ing a pastor’s fall personally

Now, to the tough part. When a pas­tor sins, he hurts a lot of peo­ple. I’ve heard a lot of pastor’s moth­ers, sis­ters, broth­ers, men­tors, cousins, grand­par­ents, church mem­bers and so on say, “How could he do this to us?”

Let me say this very gen­tly. He didn’t do it to you. It feels like it though, doesn’t it? Your pas­tor didn’t sin directly against you. He did a very self­ish, sin­ful thing, but he did not directly do it to hurt you. Don’t take it per­son­ally. He chose a path of sin, did it con­sciously, with his own flesh in mind, but he did not have you in mind when he did it. He was not try­ing to directly hurt you in the process. It does hurt and it is dev­as­tat­ing and painful, but the act wasn’t directed at you per­son­ally. Does that make it any less painful? No, but stay with me here.

Who does a pastor’s fall effect?

Maybe a bet­ter way to say it is this — he didn’t sin against any­one but God, how­ever, the pastor’s sin affects many peo­ple dev­as­tated by it’s wake. When King David sinned, his sin debt was owed to God and God alone. How­ever, the con­se­quences of his sin was felt by many peo­ple. It caused death, destruc­tion and heartache.

I can speak to this because I’ve been on both sides of it. I’ve been hurt before by the direct actions of a fam­ily mem­ber. He hurt me. He left our fam­ily. Hurt us. And I took it per­son­ally. He even told me he didn’t mean for me to take it per­son­ally. Look­ing back, I know he was right. He didn’t mean to hurt me personally.

I was also the one who did the hurt­ing. I was the fallen pas­tor. I hurt other peo­ple severely and deeply by my sin.

The fallen pas­tor, like my fam­ily mem­ber did what they did because they were sin­ners. They were self­ish. Did your fallen pas­tor hurt you? Absolutely. Did it have an effect on your rela­tion­ship with him? Yes, with­out a doubt. Was he under the influ­ence of sin? Yes. But did he do it mali­ciously to harm you? More than likely not.

Now let me ask a ques­tion. When you are self­ish in your life, when you sin, when you do things to please your­self or when you com­mit sins of gos­sip, lying, cov­etous­ness, idol­a­try, steal­ing, lust, pornog­ra­phy, cov­er­ing up other sins — are you nec­es­sar­ily doing it to per­son­ally harm some­one else? A fam­ily mem­ber? Prob­a­bly not. You’re in a state of self-​satisfaction and sin. When you get caught, there are con­se­quences for you and your fam­ily, but when you were doing them, you weren’t think­ing of any­one but yourself.

Con­se­quences of tak­ing sin personally

The real prob­lem of tak­ing some­one else’s sin per­son­ally is that we might be hin­dered in what comes next. When my fam­ily mem­ber sinned, I was so angry for so long that I never worked on for­give­ness, restora­tion or rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. I was too busy tak­ing it all per­son­ally. I was too busy ask­ing, “How could he do this to me?” instead of ask­ing, “How can God work through me to change this person’s life?

The Christian’s respon­si­bil­ity to the fallen pastor

So what is your role now? If you’re a rel­a­tive, a church mem­ber, a fel­low pas­tor or a friend? Well what does Scrip­ture
say? Does Scrip­ture say to take it per­son­ally and hold his sin against him? No. It says in the spirit of Gala­tians 6:1 to restore him. But you may say, “But I don’t have it in me. It hurts too much. I don’t under­stand why he did this.

In my expe­ri­ence in help­ing fallen pas­tors, you may never under­stand. But you have to keep pray­ing. Keep the door open slightly. Keep let­ting him know you love him. That doesn’t mean con­don­ing his sin, but let him know that you love him for who he is, in Christ as a brother. That doesn’t mean lov­ing him for his sin, but lov­ing him because he’s him. That may be the hard­est thing you’ve ever done, but it may mean more to him that you’ll ever know.

When I fell, I had about three peo­ple reach out to me. None of them were fam­ily. It took fam­ily about three months to talk to me. It took four months for the first church mem­ber to say some­thing. But these were peo­ple who were able to put their ideas aside that I had done some­thing per­sonal to them and reach out.

I want you to know some­thing very impor­tant. A pas­tor is just as much a mem­ber of the body of Christ as any­one else. If he falls, we are to go after him. If he shows signs of repen­tance, no mat­ter how small, we are to res­cue him. He has the respon­si­bil­ity to repent and the church has the respon­si­bil­ity to restore.

Just because he gets a pay­check doesn’t mean we get to fire him because he sins. It doesn’t mean because he com­mits a sin we get to toss him by the side of the road. The body of Christ includes all of the mem­bers. If one mem­ber suf­fers, all suf­fer together; if one mem­ber is hon­ored, all rejoice together. (1 Corinthi­ans 12:26 ESV)

Above it all, try not to take it per­son­ally. Don’t run to Face­book and say, “How could he do this to me?” or to the woman he was with “You are such a *@&$#” as one per­son did to my wife. He didn’t do it to you. He has a higher stan­dard to answer to. Instead, go to him. Run to his side. Don’t judge him imme­di­ately, but find out what is going on in his heart. Ask him, “Let’s work through this.” He may not want to talk right away, but he will know you are there.

The body of Christ is made up of many parts. At least one of them might be able to reach out to the fallen pastor.

_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​

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.

I’m the kind of guy who takes things very personally. If someone looks at me sideways, I start to wonder, “What did I do to offend that person?” Some people are just wired that way. I like to act like things just roll off my back but I’m fairly sensitive.

Who Did The Fallen Pastor Sin Against?I’ve gotten better since I started blogging about not taking things personally, which is a good thing for all of us to learn. Today, I want to link two ideas together – who the fallen pastor sins against when he falls and why that sin cannot be taken personally. Hold on tight, because while those ideas might seem a bit strange now, I promise they will begin to make sense.

I care about everyone on every side of this issue: Fallen pastors, their spouses, those they’ve been involved with, their churches, their families, their fellow pastors, their children – everyone. Know why? Because they are all worthy of the love and care of Christ.

Who gets hurt when a pastor falls?

When a pastor commits adultery and falls from the ministry, it hurts many people. Since my fall, I’ve had time to listen to people on every side of the fall. Of course, I was the adulterous pastor. I knew what it was like to be selfish, leave the ministry and not listen to anyone.

I’ve also had time to listen to the wives of fallen pastors and hear their side of the story. I’ve also heard from the women who committed adultery with the pastor. I’ve talked to church members and friends of the fallen pastor. I’ve seen this issue from all sides and I must say, it has humbled me even greater than before.

After a pastor commits adultery, it breaks hearts. It wounds people. Sometimes it ends up on the front page of the newspaper if the church is big enough. It always makes the rounds in gossip in the community. Regardless, it is an act that hurts many people. It angers many. It leaves many asking, “Why? How? What are the reasons?”

Who does the fallen pastor sin against?

Let’s take a look at some Scripture. After David committed adultery with Bathsheba, he wrote Psalm 51. He said in verses 3-4:

For I know my transgressions,
        and my sin is ever before me.
    Against you, you only, have I sinned
        and done what is evil in your sight,
    so that you may be justified in your words
        and blameless in your judgment.
(Psalm 51:3-4 ESV)

I used to wonder what David meant when he told God, “Against you, you only, have I sinned.” Surely David knew he had sinned against Bathsheba’s husband by killing him. Surely fallen pastors know they sin against their own wives when they commit adultery. So what’s the deal?

Here’s the deal – when any of us sin, the sin debt we owe is owed only to God. (Romans 3:23; 6:23) We will only face Him for judgment. Him alone. At the end of it all, we face no man. We face God Almighty. That’s a lot of judgment to answer to.

That’s why it’s so important for us to walk a righteous path, to be justified in Christ and to then walk a life of holiness. We must repent after we have sinned and cry out to God after our transgression.

Taking a pastor’s fall personally

Now, to the tough part. When a pastor sins, he hurts a lot of people. I’ve heard a lot of pastor’s mothers, sisters, brothers, mentors, cousins, grandparents, church members and so on say, “How could he do this to us?”

Let me say this very gently. He didn’t do it to you. It feels like it though, doesn’t it? Your pastor didn’t sin directly against you. He did a very selfish, sinful thing, but he did not directly do it to hurt you. Don’t take it personally. He chose a path of sin, did it consciously, with his own flesh in mind, but he did not have you in mind when he did it. He was not trying to directly hurt you in the process. It does hurt and it is devastating and painful, but the act wasn’t directed at you personally. Does that make it any less painful? No, but stay with me here.

Who does a pastor’s fall effect?

Maybe a better way to say it is this – he didn’t sin against anyone but God, however, the pastor’s sin affects many people devastated by it’s wake. When King David sinned, his sin debt was owed to God and God alone. However, the consequences of his sin was felt by many people. It caused death, destruction and heartache.

I can speak to this because I’ve been on both sides of it. I’ve been hurt before by the direct actions of a family member. He hurt me. He left our family. Hurt us. And I took it personally. He even told me he didn’t mean for me to take it personally. Looking back, I know he was right. He didn’t mean to hurt me personally.

I was also the one who did the hurting. I was the fallen pastor. I hurt other people severely and deeply by my sin.

The fallen pastor, like my family member did what they did because they were sinners. They were selfish. Did your fallen pastor hurt you? Absolutely. Did it have an effect on your relationship with him? Yes, without a doubt. Was he under the influence of sin? Yes. But did he do it maliciously to harm you? More than likely not.

Now let me ask a question. When you are selfish in your life, when you sin, when you do things to please yourself or when you commit sins of gossip, lying, covetousness, idolatry, stealing, lust, pornography, covering up other sins – are you necessarily doing it to personally harm someone else? A family member? Probably not. You’re in a state of self-satisfaction and sin. When you get caught, there are consequences for you and your family, but when you were doing them, you weren’t thinking of anyone but yourself.

Consequences of taking sin personally

The real problem of taking someone else’s sin personally is that we might be hindered in what comes next. When my family member sinned, I was so angry for so long that I never worked on forgiveness, restoration or reconciliation. I was too busy taking it all personally. I was too busy asking, “How could he do this to me?” instead of asking, “How can God work through me to change this person’s life?

The Christian’s responsibility to the fallen pastor

So what is your role now? If you’re a relative, a church member, a fellow pastor or a friend? Well what does Scripture
say? Does Scripture say to take it personally and hold his sin against him? No. It says in the spirit of Galatians 6:1 to restore him. But you may say, “But I don’t have it in me. It hurts too much. I don’t understand why he did this.

In my experience in helping fallen pastors, you may never understand. But you have to keep praying. Keep the door open slightly. Keep letting him know you love him. That doesn’t mean condoning his sin, but let him know that you love him for who he is, in Christ as a brother. That doesn’t mean loving him for his sin, but loving him because he’s him. That may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it may mean more to him that you’ll ever know.

When I fell, I had about three people reach out to me. None of them were family. It took family about three months to talk to me. It took four months for the first church member to say something. But these were people who were able to put their ideas aside that I had done something personal to them and reach out.

I want you to know something very important. A pastor is just as much a member of the body of Christ as anyone else. If he falls, we are to go after him. If he shows signs of repentance, no matter how small, we are to rescue him. He has the responsibility to repent and the church has the responsibility to restore.

Just because he gets a paycheck doesn’t mean we get to fire him because he sins. It doesn’t mean because he commits a sin we get to toss him by the side of the road. The body of Christ includes all of the members. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV)

Above it all, try not to take it personally. Don’t run to Facebook and say, “How could he do this to me?” or to the woman he was with “You are such a *@&$#” as one person did to my wife. He didn’t do it to you. He has a higher standard to answer to. Instead, go to him. Run to his side. Don’t judge him immediately, but find out what is going on in his heart. Ask him, “Let’s work through this.” He may not want to talk right away, but he will know you are there.

The body of Christ is made up of many parts. At least one of them might be able to reach out to the fallen pastor.

__________________

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.

Please take time to comment. If you're thinking it, going through it, hurting, someone else probably is too.