Inside the Mind of a Fallen Pastor

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Inside the Mind of a Fallen Pastor

When a pas­tor falls from min­istry, it wasn’t a deci­sion he made overnight. The sin of adul­tery takes root some time before a fall and if not addressed, sinks its teeth in and grap­ples the heart fully and with­out let­ting go. It’s a dif­fi­cult thing to under­stand the twisted mind of a fallen pastor.

inside the mind of a fallen pastorIf you’ve ever approached a fallen pas­tor soon after his fall and tried rea­son­ing with him, it was prob­a­bly a very con­fus­ing expe­ri­ence for you. I’ve been on both sides of this expe­ri­ence. I have been the fallen pas­tor (with the twisted mind) and I’ve coun­seled fallen pastors.

I want to give you some insight to this process. Whether you’re the fallen pas­tor or you’re try­ing to under­stand the fallen pas­tor, hope­fully this post will help you.

The Mind of the Fallen Pastor

When a pas­tor begins to enter­tain ideas of adul­tery, some­thing is obvi­ously wrong. He’s left his spir­i­tual life unat­tended and neglected his mar­riage. I’ve blogged about this issue before and wrote a book about the fac­tors that lead a pas­tor to moral fail­ure. What­ever leads him to it, he is the one who makes the deci­sion to walk through the door of temptation.

Real­ize, how­ever, that in the months that lead up to that deci­sion, he has invented a world of moral ambi­gu­ity where God is just fine with adul­tery. He has twisted the Word of God into a lie and filled the pul­pit with a far­ci­cal reboot of his own fancy.

I know this because it’s what I did. It’s what I had to do to push the guilt aside. It’s what you have to do when you want to keep preach­ing to peo­ple every week out of a book that tells you that what you’re doing is wrong. You have to lie to your­self every sec­ond of the day.

You also have to lie to the per­son you’re com­mit­ting adul­tery with. I’ve learned that in an adul­ter­ous rela­tion­ship, the woman the pas­tor is cheat­ing with is much more likely to raise a moral objec­tion than the pas­tor. The pas­tor will be quick to jus­tify the sin but the woman is often over­wrought with guilt.

If you’re a pas­tor in this sit­u­a­tion, come clean. Stop lying. Stop per­vert­ing the Word of God. Reach out and I or some­one else can help you. No judge­ment. No scold­ing from me. Just love and understanding.

How to Under­stand the Fallen Pastor

How do you deal with a pas­tor in this con­di­tion? Know that it’s going to be very dif­fi­cult. He’s going to be say­ing things that he hon­estly believes. He may accuse you of hat­ing him or judg­ing him. He might tell you that God has con­doned his adul­tery. Or he could yell and scream and pout. If you’re a friend in any way, be patient and lis­ten. If you can’t deal with it, don’t. But find some­one who can.

If he resists help and remains unre­pen­tant, you have to walk away. Dr. Her­shael York has some great words on the sub­ject in this blog post - and his words are also equally great regard­ing true repen­tance. If the guy shows any kind of move­ment toward repen­tance at all, he’s worth saving.

How to Help a Fallen Pastor

If he keeps mov­ing away and car­ries on in lack of repen­tance, let him do so, but I sug­gest you do what Cap­shaw Bap­tist in Huntsville, Alabama did under the lead­er­ship of Pas­tor Zach Terry when they had a staff mem­ber leave — store up grace for the day when God moves on the heart of the unre­pen­tant pas­tor. Don’t ever shut the door on a fallen pas­tor completely.

Be ready to restore such a one some day. How do we restore some­one like that? By rec­on­cil­ing with them pub­licly and lov­ingly. Let­ting the world know that the prodi­gal has come home. Sure, it might be a mess, but some­times life is just messy.

Friends, the mind of the fallen pas­tor gets twisted for sure. Mine did. But it’s not hope­less. God untwists the twisted. He redeems us all. No one is beyond sav­ing. He reaches down into that pit and brings us up from it. Don’t give up on anyone.

_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​

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.

When a pastor falls from ministry, it wasn’t a decision he made overnight. The sin of adultery takes root some time before a fall and if not addressed, sinks its teeth in and grapples the heart fully and without letting go. It’s a difficult thing to understand the twisted mind of a fallen pastor.

inside the mind of a fallen pastorIf you’ve ever approached a fallen pastor soon after his fall and tried reasoning with him, it was probably a very confusing experience for you. I’ve been on both sides of this experience. I have been the fallen pastor (with the twisted mind) and I’ve counseled fallen pastors.

I want to give you some insight to this process. Whether you’re the fallen pastor or you’re trying to understand the fallen pastor, hopefully this post will help you.

The Mind of the Fallen Pastor

When a pastor begins to entertain ideas of adultery, something is obviously wrong. He’s left his spiritual life unattended and neglected his marriage. I’ve blogged about this issue before and wrote a book about the factors that lead a pastor to moral failure. Whatever leads him to it, he is the one who makes the decision to walk through the door of temptation.

Realize, however, that in the months that lead up to that decision, he has invented a world of moral ambiguity where God is just fine with adultery. He has twisted the Word of God into a lie and filled the pulpit with a farcical reboot of his own fancy.

I know this because it’s what I did. It’s what I had to do to push the guilt aside. It’s what you have to do when you want to keep preaching to people every week out of a book that tells you that what you’re doing is wrong. You have to lie to yourself every second of the day.

You also have to lie to the person you’re committing adultery with. I’ve learned that in an adulterous relationship, the woman the pastor is cheating with is much more likely to raise a moral objection than the pastor. The pastor will be quick to justify the sin but the woman is often overwrought with guilt.

If you’re a pastor in this situation, come clean. Stop lying. Stop perverting the Word of God. Reach out and I or someone else can help you. No judgement. No scolding from me. Just love and understanding.

How to Understand the Fallen Pastor

How do you deal with a pastor in this condition? Know that it’s going to be very difficult. He’s going to be saying things that he honestly believes. He may accuse you of hating him or judging him. He might tell you that God has condoned his adultery. Or he could yell and scream and pout. If you’re a friend in any way, be patient and listen. If you can’t deal with it, don’t. But find someone who can.

If he resists help and remains unrepentant, you have to walk away. Dr. Hershael York has some great words on the subject in this blog post – and his words are also equally great regarding true repentance. If the guy shows any kind of movement toward repentance at all, he’s worth saving.

How to Help a Fallen Pastor

If he keeps moving away and carries on in lack of repentance, let him do so, but I suggest you do what Capshaw Baptist in Huntsville, Alabama did under the leadership of Pastor Zach Terry when they had a staff member leave – store up grace for the day when God moves on the heart of the unrepentant pastor. Don’t ever shut the door on a fallen pastor completely.

Be ready to restore such a one some day. How do we restore someone like that? By reconciling with them publicly and lovingly. Letting the world know that the prodigal has come home. Sure, it might be a mess, but sometimes life is just messy.

Friends, the mind of the fallen pastor gets twisted for sure. Mine did. But it’s not hopeless. God untwists the twisted. He redeems us all. No one is beyond saving. He reaches down into that pit and brings us up from it. Don’t give up on anyone.

__________________________

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.

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