I Love The Rain

rainRain is the greatest weather ever.

If I had been one of the people not invited on the Ark, (and I probably wouldn’t have been), and it had been raining for about 20 days, I would’ve said to the other whiners, “What’s your problem? Keep it coming!

There are just so many beautiful things about rain.


Do you know how to peg who the truly happy people are? The ones who just keep walking in the rain. They don’t run. They walk.


It feels good and it’s refreshing. When you’re standing outside in the heat and you feel that first slight breeze, you know there’s rain on the way. Then that first little drop of rain. Then the second, then it all breaks loose.

Remember playing in the rain as a kid? Nothing stopped you when you were young. Even if Mom made you put on embarrassing galoshes or whatever, you wanted to go out in it. My mom didn’t make me wear that stuff. I’d go out there in it and just play. Catch crawdads in the runoff water, get soaked to the bone, run up and down the street – those were the times. And it didn’t matter if I got wet.

But today, while we’re adults – watch the heavens open up, see the rain2people in their suits and dresses scamper for cover or an umbrella. Do you know how to peg who the truly happy people are? The ones who just keep walking in the rain. They don’t run. They walk. And they slowly turn their faces skyward with a grin to appreciate it.

And our music bears this out.

People don’t write too many songs about snow. Or hail, or ground frosts, or the Nor’easter (save Billy Joel). They write songs about rain.

Blue Eyes Cryin’ In the Rain, Can You Stand The Rain, Blame It On The Rain, I Wish It Would Rain Down, Kentucky Rain (one of my favorites), Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, It’s Rainin’ Men (probably shouldn’t include that one), I Love a Rainy Night, Raining On Sunday, Summer Rain, Who’ll Stop the Rain, etc, etc, etc.

Sure, rain stops baseball games. It stops picnics (get a pavilion). It stops NASCAR races.

But it also washes away the old. It’s great to kiss in. To run around in. To find yourself.

And it seems, and it may just be a coincidence, that on every significant day of my life that it has rained. It’s been a close friend to me. I’ll take the rain whether it’s drizzling, sprinkling, pouring, coming horizontally, or a torrential downpour.

It’s always refreshing.


Happy Fifth Anniversary, Allison.

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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.

Is My Pastor Up To Something Sinful?

computerTurn on the news and what do you see? War. Murder. What does that mean? That you’re probably going to get shot tomorrow and that the end is near.

Of course that’s not what that means.

But we do internalize a lot of the evening news, don’t we? And we internalize a lot of statistics. We get online and type in some symptoms we’re having and WebMD tells us that we have an incurable disease. It can be difficult not to do those things when information is so accessible.

Here at Fallen Pastor I share a lot of statistics. I’ll tell you that a lot of pastors suffer from depression or look at pornography. I tell you that ministry failure is a stark reality and I use statistics to illustrate the point. It’s a real problem.webmd

Once in a while I will write a blog about how people can take care of their “normal” pastor. How pastors can prevent moral failure.

But I want you to know that just because there are tendencies toward sin, just because there are pastors who struggle – that doesn’t mean that your pastor is sitting at his desk with his cell phone, texting his secret lover trying to figure out an out of the way rendezvous, all the while surfing the web for pornography, simultaneously writing his Sunday sermon on how husbands should love their wives.

There are some great pastors out there. A ton of them. Have I ever met a perfect one? Nope. Never met a perfect Christian or church member either. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be. All of us undergoing the process of sanctification, working together, walking together in Christ.

I hope you don’t read this blog and think that your pastor is wiling away his hours being sinful. He’s probably not. He does need your support. So does his family. They are under extreme pressure. Let them be human. Let them be part of the community of faith and express their frustrations, prayer requests, and have time off with their family.

Let them worship together as a family on Sunday and make sure they are experiencing God in the church as you are. Don’t treat him as  a hired hand – treat him as a brother in Christ.

Don’t be suspicious of his motives. Instead, if you think he might have a problem, approach him as Matthew 18 asks us to. If you feel he has slighted you or made an error, go to him in love. Treat him as you would want to be treated in the same situation.

Has he made mistakes? Sure. Will he continue to make them? Absolutely. Will you? Sure you will.

Is my pastor up to something sinful? Probably. We all are to some degree. But will we continue to be mistake-making people who constantly look to Christ for help, sanctification and healing as  a community of faith? That’s the real question.

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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.

Can You Believe That Sinner?

I’ve been writing for a long time. My senior year of high school, I got to help write  a play. I can see the following monologue being acted out by one person for a church drama. But I can also see it happening every week in churches as a reaction to those who sin, unfortunately. These are the whispers that sinners hear – deservedly so – but when do they stop? And when do our hearts change? What should our hearts be speaking toward those who sin? Scripture references are linked:

“Can you believe that sinner? Do you know what he did? He cheated on his wife. Unbelievable. He’s a member of this church.  And he was a Sunday School teacher.

whispering“Oh, when did he do it? About eight months ago. Filthy person. How dare he show up back in our church like this. Seriously. He’s got two kids. They’re not even ten yet. What was he thinking?

“I don’t know how he could even show himself in public. He’s lucky he even has a job still. I can hardly stand looking at him.

“How did he teach Sunday School all those Sundays and carry on with that other woman? What audacity! That has to be blasphemy.

“Do what? Oh, he’s been meeting with the pastor. I have no idea why the pastor would even talk to him. I’m sure he’s blaming his wife or a problem with pornography or a troubled childhood. But to me, there’s no excuse for that kind of sin.

“His wife? Here’s a stunner. She’s trying to work things out with him. whispering2I have no idea why. She should have dumped his sorry rear end right there on the spot when she found those text messages. She could have gone straight to a lawyer and owned everything that little bitty man has.

“I don’t know. I mean I’m not being judgmental. I just don’t like the way he looks around the sanctuary. I don’t like the way he talks or speaks to anyone. He’s not fooling me with that false humility.

I’m telling you, once a cheater, always a cheater.

“Those poor little children of his. Maybe one day they’ll learn what an unholy person their father is. How can he even sing songs of worship?

I just don’t know how someone like that can live with themselves.

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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.

 

The Yellow Sticky Note

Today I’m honored to guest blog from an old friend. I’m posting a bio below. But please read the post first. I think a lot of you will relate to the writing and the topic. It’s one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time.

He asked me to write an article for his website.  If he only knew, he wouldn’t ask.  I knew what I wanted to say, but didn’t have the courage to tell the truth.

What came to mind was my first appointment with a therapist about 30 years ago.  At the end of our session, he wrote something on a yellow sticky note, and told me to put it on my refrigerator.  It said, “I’m doing the best I can.  That’s good enough.”  Immediately I said, “Nonsense!  I’m doing the best I can, and it’s never good enough.”  “But it has to be,” he replied, “because it’s all you can do.

post-it-yellowFor the last nine months, I’ve been sinking into increasing depression and despair.  I’m eating less, drinking more, and find it difficult to pray.  I’ve stopped teaching my class, cancelled my relationships with the two women I mentored, and hardly ever write. I’m still connected to my family, but only have one truly honest relationship – a friend who knows most of what’s going on and refuses to give up on me, believing when I can’t.

It’s not that I don’t care anymore, yet my ability to move forward has all but ceased, and I feel like it’s my fault.  I certainly have no business leading anyone else spiritually.  Why would I want to lead anyone into this darkness?

And yet it isn’t totally dark inside me.  There is still a sense of ministry as I care for a crabby, difficult old lady 36 hours a week, offering her the patience and compassion I don’t feel for myself.  The satisfaction I have in cooking healthy meals for my family still thrives.  Twice a week I go to church and the gym.  In other words, I haven’t given up on life.  But my self-esteem lies liquid on the floor, the vision I once had is vacant, and I can’t escape.  Self-destruction and self-fulfillment co-exist.  It’s not the end, but……I don’t know what it is, but it isn’t good.  It certainly isn’t “good enough.”

What isn’t missing is my awareness of God’s presence.  God hasn’t left nor have I left God.  The Bible says nothing can separate us from the love of God, and God promises to never leave us.  That is my one solace in this turmoil.  But what is my purpose right now?

Simon Peter comes to mind – a spiritual loose cannon.  He was predictably irresponsible, a class-act idiot, saying and doing the dumbest things.  If he had been one of my disciples, I would have fired him.  Actually, if I had known what he was like, I wouldn’t have chosen him in the first place.  He failed Jesus so many times.  Peter finally gave up trying and went back to fishing after abandoning Jesus on the worst day of his life.

And yet Jesus came to him personally where he was – even after all that – and told Peter to feed and care for His sheep.  How do you feed someone when you have nothing to give?  How do you care for someone when you are doing a terrible job of caring for yourself? Makes me think of the TV show, “Mission Impossible” – “Your mission, should you choose to accept it,….”  What if I can’t accept what seems to be impossible?  Certainly God wouldn’t say, “You’re doing the best you can.  That’s good enough.

Yeah, right.

That damn yellow sticky note.  Even if I don’t believe it’s true, what if my mission from God today is to get up and go to work, cook a good dinner for my family, and treat that crabby old lady with kindness, even if I don’t feel like it? God, you know I’m already doing those things.

And God said, “Read the yellow sticky note.”

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Our guest blogger today was Joy Wilson. Joy Wilson is the author of Uncensored Prayer: The Spiritual Practice of Wrestling With God (Civitas Press, 2011). She blogs at Solacetree.

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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.

6 Popular Ways To Run Off Your Pastor

Fallenpastor.com does not recommend this approach to removing a pastor from a church.
Fallenpastor.com does not recommend this approach to removing a pastor from a church.

Want to get rid of your pastor? Maybe not, but there could be people unwittingly doing things within your church who are sending messages to your preacher that they want him gone. Yesterday.

During my five-year ministry to fallen pastors, I talk to former ministers, active ministers, retired pastors, directors of missions, and missionaries. The problems I list below come from years of talking to frustrated ministers.

Unfortunately, for most of them, there are certain types of attitudes that pop up in churches that do much harm to ministers. I wrote a blog post a while back called “3 Ways You Can Prevent Pastoral Adultery.” It wasn’t very popular (probably the title). It was about how church members and leaders can help their pastors thrive in the pulpit.

So, I’m taking a different approach today. They are things that most pastors think and encounter but would never share with their own congregation. It’s a bit tongue in cheek, slightly snarky, but unfortunately, through my research of talking to hundreds of fellow ministers, here are 6 popular ways to run off your pastor.  (I might add, don’t do any of these things. In fact, do the opposite.)

1. Leave Him Passive Aggressive Notes

Don’t like something about church? Don’t like the hymns or how long the pastor is preaching? Don’t like the new music style or how the young people are acting? Well, there’s a time-honored solution for that. Leave the pastor a passive aggressive note. Preferably anonymousanonymous. Pastors just love anonymous notes left on their desks, windshields or in the offering plate.

You know with messages like, “Your messages were much more enjoyable when they were five minutes shorter,” or “You look more professional when you wear a tie” or “The sermon was fine, but you quoted 1 John 1:2 when I think you meant John 1:2.That’s the kind of stuff that helps the pastor focus on what’s really important.

2. Show Remarkable Imbalance as Church Leaders

When there’s a huge church crisis or disagreement looming and the pastor needs wisdom, input and support from his leadership, don’t say a word. Let him figure that stuff out on his own. Heck, that’s what all those seminary classes are for, right? But when he orders a $25 box of personalized pens with the church’s name on them without prior authorization? Give him heck at the next business meeting!


We have a tendency to treat the pastor as a “hired hand” instead of as a fellow member of the community of faith.


3. Say Insulting Things About His Less Than Perfect Wife

Did you know that a lot of pastor’s wives didn’t marry a pastor? A lot of men get the call to ministry after they are married, so it’s always good to cut them a little slack. That being said, pastor’s wives are often the target of a lot of trash talk.

For some reason a lot of people have an unrealistic model of what the perfect pastor’s wife should look and act like. I guess she’s supposed to be the Proverbs 31 woman, head of the nursery, teaching three kids Sunday School classes, head of AWANAs, always smiling, remembering everyone’s birthday and anniversary, and never have a hair or opinion out-of-place.

Well, sorry to say, that’s not reality. God made all pastor’s wives different and with unique personalities and gifts. Some are outspoken, some are quiet, some make friends easily, some keep to themselves, some like to cook 15 dishes for the potluck and some will bring a premade cake from Kroger.

pastorswifeUnfortunately, some churchgoers feel the need to pick at the pastor’s wife whether through gossip, low voices in the pews, or even Facebook. “Why does she always look so miserable?” “Why doesn’t she relate to people better?” “Why is she so outspoken?” “Why doesn’t she teach a Sunday School class?” “She didn’t say hello to me today.” “Why does she always seem so distant?” Hmmmm. Maybe it’s because she’s wondering why everyone is always staring at her with inquisitive looks on their faces.

4. Join a Few Others Who Think It’s Time For The Pastor “To Go” For Arbitrary Reasons

Now, it’s true a pastor can outlast his welcome by messing things up or by being a poor leader. No doubt about that. There are reasons to fire a guy or suggest he move on. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about when people get it in their head that they just need a new pastor every 3-10 years and find ridiculous reasons for it.

He’s just a better preacher than a pastor.” “He preaches too much about evangelism.” “I just don’t like the version of the Lord’s Prayer he uses.” “Seems like he’s been here too long.

Have we ever thought that maybe our problems with our pastor say more about us than they do about him? Let’s dig a little deeper. Maybe our problems with the person in the pulpit have more to do with our what’s lacking in our own relationship with God than they do with any church leader.

5. Argue and Disagree With Any Idea He Has For Kingdom Growth

Who would have a problem with church growth? I can answer that one, actually. I was awake the day they taught that in seminary. On the surface, most people love church growth. But when the church grows, it inevitably changes. And well, we all know how most people feel about change. We don’t like it too much. That’s why we try to 12angrymenuse words like “adapt” instead.

So when the pastor has an idea for growth or a plan for evangelism or anything that has to do with outreach, there will be some who will grumble. It just doesn’t fit into their own personal model of how things are or how things should be.

Well, pastor, we’ve tried that before.” “That’s not for us.” “That plan you’re suggesting sounds a little bit *gasp* liberal.” That’ll stop that plan for growth in its tracks.

6. Final Step: Simply Decide He’s Not The Right Man For “The Job”

When a group of people has decided they’ve had enough of the pastor, they can sway others pretty well. Lies can be told – “I hear he gets his sermons right off the Internet!” “He doesn’t spend enough time to justify what we’re paying him.

When this happens, it’s unfortunate. It’s something I’ve pointed out since I wrote my book. We have a tendency to treat the pastor as a “hired hand” instead of as a fellow member of the community of faith. When we look at him, we  see a guy we hired, can fire, and find a new one. We see an investment for our local church instead of a human being with a calling from God.

What we should be seeing is a minister gifted by God, called to our local fellowship, to be transparent, open, and part of us. We walk together, fall together, forgive together, and love one another.

Let’s not be in a hurry to run anyone off from our churches. Let’s invest the love of Christ in anyone who joins our local fellowship, loving them as we love ourselves.

Looking for more? Thom Rainer of Lifeway is the king of articles like this. I love his posts about pastors and church. I recommend these:

“Seven Ways To Hurt Your Pastor”

“14 Things NOT to Say To Your Pastor”

“8 Negative Reasons Pastors Leave a Church”

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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.

Is Facebook Ruining Marriages?

facebook01A couple of headlines caught my eye this week regarding Facebook and its role in the destruction of marriage. The first was an article by Samantha Yule in The Mirror: “Facebook now crops up in a third of divorce cases over cheating and old flames.

Yule reports that many married people get in touch with old flames through Facebook. Worse, people tend to portray the best of themselves on Facebook when the reality of their situation may not be so great.

The other article was from CNN by Ian Kerner: “E-motional affairs: How Facebook leads to infidelity.” Kerner does an excellent job of listing the factors that lead people down the road of infidelity by the door of Facebook.  He encourages people not to “romanticize the past,” “don’t keep secrets,” “Facebook friends can be more powerful than porn,” and he suggests that if the temptation is too great, get off Facebook.

His article hits a lot of great points. I’ve counseled a lot of fallen pastors in the past few years who were able to carry on an emotional relationship with someone online that got out of hand and eventually turned physical.

A disclaimer, though. Is Facebook the moral evil? No, it’s not. And I don’t think Kerner or Yule would say that it is either. Any type of technology we engage in can be used for good or evil. When our lusts and sin get out of check, we can find ourselves in dangerous and deep waters. We could just as easily be talking about Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or texting.


We have to remember that social media is not a reflection of people as they are, typically. It is a reflection of how we want others to see us.


There are two things I’d add to the previous authors’ observations. First, most of the things we are fed electronically these days are built on the premise of addiction. We like things because they’re easy and fun. We keep clicking the button to see more. Some like social media to unwind after a long day and for some, it’s their means of communication. It can become a problem when we begin to cross lines of morality in the virtual world with real people that we would never cross with them face to face. We have to keep our hearts in check.

Happy Family Hugging Each OtherSecondly, I’d also add that what we see of people on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other media are the best of what they have to offer. It’s easy for a person to look back at someone they knew in high school on Facebook and say, “Wow, they have it all together. Look at their wife, their new house, their new job.

Well, yeah. Because we typically post only the most flattering things about ourselves. We post the high points in our lives. The vacation shots, the perfectly positioned selfies, the shots of us in the clothes we look good in. We don’t post the picture of ourselves after we’ve first gotten up in the morning. Or after we’ve gotten mad at our precious child for leaving their backpack that we tripped over in the floor (for the billionth time) and we yelled at them.

We have to remember that social media is not a reflection of people as they are, typically. It is a reflection of how we want others to see us.

Is Facebook ruining marriages? Facebook is a complex program that we are able to access and if we are not careful, allow it to consume us. Worse, we can use it to propel our sinful desires forward into inappropriate behaviors.

I can tell you this. It’s not the basis for judging someone’s soul. And it’s definitely not a dating service for married people.

(But hey, have you messed up in this area? Are you a pastor, church leader? I’m here to help without judgment. Contact info is below.)

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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.

Can People Really Change?

Christians believe that when Christ comes into our lives, we change. Our selfish behavior becomes God-oriented. That which was self-directed now becomes God-directed. That’s the work of God in our lives.

changeI was having an interesting conversation with my 12-year-old daughter Katie a while back about whether we can really, really change.

That probably sounds really cynical, doesn’t it? Now, we weren’t talking about whether people could change bad habits or whether God could transform us at the time of our salvation into new creatures.

What we were talking about was this – does our basic personality ever really change?  We were having a pretty good discussion about it. When we got down to the basic point, we came to the conclusion that we kinda are who God made us.

Biblically speaking, when we look at Peter, he was always kind of impulsive. That never changed. As he grew older and wiser, it did seem to get under control better – like he was turning down the volume. (More about that in a minute).


 “Everyone is like a television. We all have these personalities that won’t change. A person’s channel won’t change, but they can change the volume of their channel.”


For instance, Katie and I have a somewhat dry sense of humor that is an extension of our personality. That personality has been described as sarcasm at times. Now, sarcasm can get out of control and sinful. But there is a place for sarcasm and humor of that kind when it is under the control of the Holy Spirit. 

Will our sarcasm ever completely disappear? I don’t think so. Whether through nature or nurture, we have it ingrained into our minds and hearts. It’s just there. (A behavioral psychologist might disagree, but that’s for a different type of blog).

I said to Katie, “I think everyone has a different personality. They are who they are. For the most part, we’re not going to change. All of us have these beautiful God-given talents and characteristics that we’re supposed to be honing and growing – that’s sanctification. But we also let them get out of control – that’s sin.

For instance, a person might have confidence. There are a lot of people who have confidence in Scripture. Confidence isn’t a bad thing. We should be confident in who we are in Christ. But confidence in ourselves as our own personal Savior can turn into pride and destruction.

volumeThat’s about when Katie jumped on board with the thought of the week. She said, “Everyone is like a television. We all have these personalities that won’t change. A person’s channel won’t change, but they can change the volume of their channel.

Whoa. She’s right. So I might have a humor channel in my life. If I turn it way up, it’s biting, sinful, cynical sarcasm. If it’s down low, it’s humor that keeps Christ in mind and is appropriate. If I have a confidence channel and it’s on low or medium, I’m focused on Christ as the source of my confidence and life. If it’s turned way up, it’s all about me. 

I’m happy to have some smart kids who are figuring their way through life. What do you think? How much can we really change about ourselves? Is it like turning up and down the volume?

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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.

 

The High Co$t of Pastoral Adultery

costsFor the past five years, I’ve been telling you the dangers of adultery and why churches, pastors, denominations and others should be concerned with preventing moral failure in their church leaders.

The main reason? We should never give way to sin  – that sin that grieves the heart of God. That sin that will tear apart our families, our churches, and can destroy our lives. I’ve been beating that drum for several years now. Just go back and check the archives here, here, here, here and here.

Understand that you do not want to grieve the heart of God. Adultery is not worth it. It carries with it consequences for a lifetime. I’ve counseled pastors who have lost everything and have been fighting their whole lives to get it back.


 “The financial impact of any sinful decision we make is a secondary consideration, but a consideration nonetheless.”


That being said, there’s another cost that I’ve never examined. There is a financial cost to pastoral adultery.

Now hold up for a second. If you read this post and your conclusion is, “Ray Carroll at Fallen Pastor said the reason we shouldn’t commit adultery is because it isn’t financially wise” – then you’re just not getting the message. Go read the rest of the blog first and I’ll be here when you get back.

I will say this – we need to be vested in preventing moral failure in our church leaders. And there are some people within our church leaders who don’t care too much about morality, pastor burnout or depression,  how expectations are unrealistic, or whatever. All they care about is the bottom line – the business meeting financial report.

Is pointing out the economic loss of pastoral adultery a bad thing? I don’t think so. I think it’s a secondary problem. I don’t think it’s the reason we should stand on the rooftops and tell leaders why they should abstain from sexual sin. However, it is a secondary reason why churches should be concerned about preventing this problem.

Our primary reason for concern is grieving the Spirit of God, the minister’s family, his integrity and holiness, the witness of our church and leaders, the holiness of our fellowship, and our sexual purity.

The financial impact of any sinful decision we make is a secondary consideration, but a consideration nonetheless. I haven’t looked at any numbers and I haven’t done any studies, but I’ve seen the financial impact of fallen leaders on churches and their families.

To name a few: The tearing apart of the financial stability of the family, the need for long-term legal counsel for both sides of a marriage that is not reconciled, the diminishing income of the family when a pastor loses his job and his inability to find another career, the church as it loses members in the short and long-term, the church as it goes through a hiring process, the short and long-term impact of the pastor’s adultery on the reputation of the church and ability to attract new members and more.

Here’s the bottom line: I hope you’ve read this blog before and wanted to get involved in preventing moral failure in our leaders before. But maybe today after reading this, it triggered something in you that made it more serious for you.

It is serious. Moral failure has had a terrible impact on everyone, from the top to the bottom of the church. If we are going to start making a difference, we need to start in our individual communities of faith with information and support of our leaders.

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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.

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.

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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.

Is Repentance Possible From The Fallen Pastor?

repentsWhen a pastor falls from the ministry, due to adultery, embezzlement, alcoholism, or whatever, the immediate desired response is that he repent on the spot. Repentance, as we know it, is a turning away from his sin and moving back toward God. Is repentance possible for the fallen pastor?

If he has left his wife or committed adultery, he needs to cut off all contact with the woman he is with and try to reconcile with his wife and family.

To do this, he needs the help of his church, counselors, and spiritual people who are willing to walk with him in restoration for a long time. It will be a difficult process. It will be a long process. In the beginning, he may not want to come back, but if he shows repentance, along with the support of the church, he may come back.

Even if he does, he will always have the albatross of sin tied around his neck for the rest of his life. I do know of many pastors who restored with their wives who reentered into ministry under the care of gracious churches.

That’s the easy one. Then we have the pastors, who I have written about extensively in my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” who for whatever reason, decided not to turn from their sin. In my book, I talk about the stages the pastor goes through in the early days of his fall. He is angry over a lot of things, he feels rejected, he knows he has sinned, yet he is looking to justify his sin.

Few reach out to him and often, the only friend he has is the woman he has chosen to be with. These aren’t excuses for anconflict unrepentant attitude, they are the reality in which he lives.

Which brings me to a most important point – his issues didn’t start overnight. He didn’t wake up one day and decide to commit adultery. His temptation was preceded by years of issues, conflict, marriage issues and ultimately, temptation. The confusion he now finds himself in are a result of his own sin and he has to face the consequences.

He may reach out to his wife at some point to discuss reconciliation to find it isn’t possible. He may not wait long enough for the anger to reside. He may just be stagnant in his sin and keep pushing on. He may just want to be with this new woman. Regardless, he has made his choice, leaving many people behind hurt and disillusioned.

Someday, though, the light goes on. It probably goes on after he’s remarried or after reconciliation with his wife has long passed. His heart begins to turn to God and He realizes he has sinned greatly, but there is little he can do about his sin.

He knows he can write letters of apology, call the church deacons, apologize to his former wife, family, but he cannot undo the past. He turns to God for forgiveness and God forgives. He always does.

King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, then to hide his sin, he had her husband murdered. There’s no reconciliation to be had there with anyone. But after his sin was discovered, he poured out his heart to God for forgiveness. But where’s the repentance? He can’t undo the adultery and murder. God wanted a repentant heart in David. And David was broken when he wrote Psalm 56 and I believe he turned his heart to God. He couldn’t un-murder Uriah, but he could repent for his actions.

There are many that believe that a fallen pastor who did not reconcile with his wife can never be truly repentant. They make a good point. Their point is that unless you go back to your wife and family, you are not repentant. You are still a sinner and out of the will of God.

I’ve posed this question to a lot of counselors and seminary professors and people with a much higher pay grade than me. Why? Not so I could justify myself. But because I want to be right with God. After my divorce, reconciliation was not to be had, I remarried and went on. I spent a  lot of time in anger and bitterness.

sinnomoreThen, I had my moment with God. My moment where I asked if I could be truly repentant. I was reminded of the woman caught in adultery. He told her to “Go and sin no more.” I was reminded of the tax collectors who came to Christ and the result of their life was to stop living in a way that was dishonoring to God. The thief on the cross was granted entrance into heaven based on his belief. Paul, on the road to Damascus, was transformed by Christ and his life took a turn completely God-ward.

None of these people could do anything about their past at that point. It was what it was. The tax collector refunded the people’s money. Some could go and apologize to those they had harmed. But Christ desired a heart change. He wanted them to “go and sin no more.” He wanted the sin they had committed that led them there to stop.

Quote me how divorce is adultery and remarriage is adultery. I understand. I understand the sins committed in those days were done out of my own selfishness, due to the circumstances around me, due to my own desire to sin. All my sin. But I also know I was forgiven.

And if I quote Hershael York once, I’ll quote him a thousand times. He said to me, “You have to make your repentance more notorious than your sin.” He wasn’t excusing what I had done, but recognizing that I had sinned. But now that I had, I had to live a life of holiness, a life pleasing to God.

Unfortunately, for the fallen pastor, for many, he will always be seen as the man with the Scarlet Letter emblazoned upon him. Not worthy of forgiveness or trust. Hated by many, scorned by his former pastor friends, and not worthy of any service to God. I know better. There is hope. God is never done with His servants who turn their hearts toward Him. God has forgotten your sin if you repent and turn away from former things. Even if others bring it up, God has cast it as far as the east is from the west.

If you’re a fallen pastor and are reading this, regardless of what stage you are in, there is hope for repentance. Deep down, you know what to do. Turn to God, seek Him and He will answer.

(This is a repost from a while back, but I thought it might help those who are new to the site – God bless).

Want to leave a comment? Click the “keep reading” button and join the conversation.

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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.

Finding Restoration in a Broken World

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