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Christians As Accountants Of Sin: A Parable

Debbie was enjoying her new life in Christ. She had come to know Christ through a women’s bible study she had been invited to by a friend. Her past was dotted with alcohol, drug use, and some pretty crazy moments. She knew she didn’t have the best reputation in the community, but for the...

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Pastors In Trouble 6: Pastors & Suicide

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in anxiety, burdens, burnout, church, church leadership, community, compassion, counseling, current events, depression, hope, pastors, prevention, suicide | Posted on 14-03-2014

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I started this series to try and focus on some specific topics and disturbing trends among Printpastors today. This blog exists because pastors have been committing adultery and have been in crisis for a while.

But I’ve noticed a trend that is even more disturbing. I don’t have any numbers to back it up, it’s just one I’ve noticed in the press. It may be a subjective figure, but I have noticed an increase in the number of pastor suicides that are being reported.

There could be a couple of reasons for this increase. Apparently, news reporting on suicides has been shown to increase suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nonfictional newspaper and television coverage of suicide has been associated with a statistically significant excess of suicides.” Is it possible that pastors who read about other pastor suicides are considering this as a way out?

Another possibility for the increase is that there has always been a problem and the numbers have always been constant, but there is just a noticeable clustering of news stories. People tend to put things together to make sense of them. For instance, think of how many times you’ve heard people say, “Celebrity deaths happen in threes.” They don’t, but our minds tend to make orderly patterns – to carve trends out of chaos.

The final possibility is that there is a measurable increase in pastoral suicide. This would have to be measured objectively and to past years. It would take an incredible amount of research and digging.

depressionPastors committing suicide (or anyone else for that matter) is always a concern and I’ve blogged about it here before in several different posts.

The stresses facing pastors are great and when a minister gets to the point that they feel self-destruction is the only way out, they have reached a place where God did not intend for them to be. Hopelessness is not the design for the Christian.

In my book, I outline four distinct things that lead a pastor to the brink moral failure (and really, any type of failure): isolation, conflict, poor marriage relationship, and unrealistic expectations.

Place on top of that a pastor who may already have a tendency toward depression and there is a serious problem. Pastors need help, encouragement, and someone to talk to just like anyone else. They spend all week listening to, counseling, and ministering to the people of God. Many times, they feel spent and as if they have poured themselves out for everyone else – and that there is no one to help them or listen to them.

That is why churches and leaders – the community of faith – must be intentional about taking care of the pastor. Not just during pastor appreciation month, but every day of the year. Pray for him, watch his kids so he can have a date with his wife, give him a paid vacation, allow him a paid sabbatical every couple of years, make sure he is given counseling if he needs it, give him an intentional day off every week where he can rest.

Even better, have a speaker come in to talk to the leadership or the whole church – someone who understands pastors and someone who can tell the church how to intentionally care for him and his family. (And while the speaker is there, send the pastor and his family off on a nice weekend getaway!)

Did you realize that Sunday isn’t a day of rest for the pastor? It’s a work day. He spends

Rod Anderson, CP Cartoonist

Rod Anderson, CP Cartoonist

every other day of the week tending to the church. A lot of churches are really good about providing the pastor with another day to make up for this lost day of the weekend. But the pastor needs a day to relax and just be himself. A day to not get phone calls about the nursery smelling funny or why he pronounced “Belial” wrong in his sermon.

Pastors are under tremendous pressure – mostly by themselves – and they need our help. I know it can be weird or hard to ask your pastor, “Are you okay?” or “How about you let us watch your kids this weekend?” or “The church has decided to pay for a week vacation for you and your family.”

But guess what? That little awkward moment will go a long way in reaching out to a minister who might feel very far from the people around him.

Need help? Check out Christian Suicide Prevention’s website.

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

____________________________

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 In Trouble 5: Unrepentant Questions

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, brokenness, church, church leadership, fallenness, humillity, ministry, pastors, repentance, restoration | Posted on 12-03-2014

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I love helping (and am always more than happy to help) anyone who contacts me through this fallingministry, but I am closest to the messed up, confused world of the freshly fallen pastor. And it is a horrible place to be. I tell fallen pastors, “No one really understands fallen ministers like a fellow fallen minister.”

One of the most confusing things for people on the outside looking in is the messed up morality of a fallen pastor. Here’s the deal – when a guy has committed adultery for a while and hasn’t been caught, he’s not thinking clearly or biblically. And when he gets caught, he’s going to try to justify and excuse his behavior any way he can. Often, he will use Scripture to justify his sin. I tried it. It even sounded good to me at the time. But it was wrong.

To everyone else, it sounds rotten. It is rotten. That’s why I always tell people to be kind and patient with a fallen pastor. Don’t let him twist the truth, but do show him compassion. Understand that he is going to come around eventually. He is living the life of the prodigal son – one day he’s going to wake up and smell the pig droppings. And when he does, he’s going to need people who care about him.

I want to answer a couple of the most frequently messed up questions I get from fallen pastors today (I introduced this issue in my last post). The answers will seem pretty obvious. But that’s just it – when you’re waist deep in the crud of sin, the answers aren’t obvious because we aren’t looking for truth.

You know what’s even more troubling? I get these same questions from church leaders who want to ignore the sin of their pastor because they don’t want the church’s reputation to suffer damage. They would rather hide the pastor’s affair (even though his wife knows), tell the woman he had an affair with to move on (because she’s usually a church member or member of the staff) and sweep it under the rug so that the church isn’t traumatized. I’m just gonna tell you that a decision like that always comes back to haunt a church and those involved.

quesr2So here are the most common messed up questions I get – questions I even considered when I wasn’t thinking clearly when I was mired in my sin.

1. “God has forgiven me, so why do I need to tell the church/my wife what I’ve done?”

God is a God of forgiveness. That is clear. He does cast our sin as far as the east is from the west. I am thankful for the amazing grace that God has shown to us by His Son Jesus Christ.

I blogged a little about this question before but want to give the response clearly again. If you are a church leader and you have committed adultery, you should ask God for forgiveness. But you also have a duty to tell your church and leaders.

When you were hired, voted in, appointed by a council – you were given the position of head elder/pastor and expected to fulfill the duties of 1 Timothy 3:1-13. Those people put their trust in you. They expected you to be faithful to your calling and be a person above reproach. When we commit a major sin, we violate their trust. When we violate their trust, we need to let them know and we have come under church discipline.

The same goes for our spouse. We took a vow. And even if we commit “emotional adultery,” there is something wrong in our marriage that needs to be fixed right away. If it doesn’t get fixed, we are going to do it again. Our spouse deserves to know that we violated our vow and that we have become vulnerable to sin.

2. “I committed adultery/had an emotional affair with a woman in the church. sorrycoupIt’s okay if she stays at the same church as I do, right?”

When guys ask me this question, I know a couple of things. First, they are in trouble spiritually and morally. They are not thinking clearly. Why? Because they think they are/or may actually be in love with the woman they are having an affair with. They cannot stand being apart from her. They don’t want to be away from her.

Second, if at this point a pastor has “only” admitted to an “emotional affair” and he asks this question – I can almost bank on the fact that he has crossed the line into the physical but he’s just not being forthcoming about it.

The big problem is this – if a man has been caught and he’s saying all the “right” things like, “I know I’ve sinned and I want to make things right with my wife.” But his actions are saying, “I still want to be around this woman and I’m still texting her and talking to her,” then what he’s saying and what he’s doing are two different things. He’s not repentant. He’s still trapped.

Listen carefully though. I have a tremendous amount of concern for the woman the pastor has been involved with. I think churches should have the same amount of concern, especially if she is a member or a part of the staff.

Back to the issue at hand. Pastor, if you have committed adultery and you want your marriage to work out, you’ve got to distance yourself permanently from the person you were with. End of story. On top of that, you have to be transparent for a long time with your wife about your cell phone, email, Facebook and anything else you have passwords on. Give her access to everything. It’s freedom. It one step back towards trust.

repenta3. “I’ll be okay pretty quick, right? I won’t be out the ministry very long.”

When you get caught, what you need is to be restored to Christ. Something went wrong. Lots of somethings. I write about it on this blog and in my book. Those things need to be fixed before any kind of ministry can ever happen again. A life of brokenness and humility need to occur while God restores you.

This doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen in a few weeks. If you’re lucky, it might happen in a year. It happens in God’s timing.

But when you’re honest about your sin and how you came to it, God will be longsuffering and will heal your heart. It’s not easy being honest, but it is rewarding. It’s tough, but it is the narrow road for those who want peace.

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

____________________________

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 In Trouble 4: If You Have To Ask…

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, fallenness, humillity, pastoring, pastors, repentance, restoration | Posted on 10-03-2014

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This blog is entitled “fallen pastor” but a lot of what I write could apply to anyone. All of us are susceptible to a ashamedfall. All of us are sinners and are capable of some pretty awful things. Honestly, you know what you’ve done. Maybe at this moment you are aware of a sin that you are attempting to hide from everyone. Maybe it’s not adultery – but it’s something that has a hold on you.

I know. You can stop whenever you want. And it really doesn’t control you.

Maybe you’re not in that situation now, but if you’re human, you have been. All of us have. The flesh gets hold of all of us at some point and we are addicts to something. We indulge in a sin and try to keep it secret – no matter how small.

The entire time we are sinning, we try to fool ourselves though. We think we are masters of that sin, but we are not. It has mastered us.

My father did his best to instill some wisdom in me. Two great thoughts that he repeated to me stick with me. The first was, “Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.” The second, and germane to this post was, “If you have to ask about the morality of something and whether you should do it, you probably shouldn’t.

He was dead right about that last one.

I’ve been writing this series about the problems in the church culture – how our pastors are in crisis. We are in a time of turmoil unlike we’ve never seen before.

I can’t tell you how many fallen pastors email me with questions about moral issues and church issues. They’re guys who have just been caught and they have serious questions like, “Do I really need to tell my wife about my affair?” or “I’ve told my wife, do I really need to tell my church?” or “I committed adultery with this woman in my church. I’m not going to do it again. So, it’s okay if she is still a member, right?” or “I’ve asked God for forgiveness and He forgives all sin. So there’s no reason to tell anyone else. That’s what the Bible says, right?

Like Dad said, if you have to ask, your morality is probably a little messed up…

self-justificationNow, if you haven’t ever sinned or if you have never been in a situation where you’ve never been in serious trouble, you’re probably yelling at your computer screen. For those of you who find those questions ridiculous, let me tell you that they are very real and I get them A LOT. I don’t get as riled up as some people when I hear them because I understand why fallen people ask them. I fell from the ministry so let me tell you that I understand those questions from a certain viewpoint, so let me give you some insight on why they get asked in the first place.

When a pastor is engaged in sin, his moral compass (sorry if you don’t like that term) is extremely messed up. If someone has been committing adultery for a time, then think about what they’ve done. They’ve cheated on their spouse, emailing and texting someone, lying to their family, preaching while they’ve been sinning, justifying their behavior to themselves and the other person, probably not having a deep relationship with God, and putting on a false face for everyone.

So guess what? When they get caught, their usual reaction to sin is not going to be very strong. So don’t be too shocked when they say something like, “Well, I know I cheated on my wife, but God has forgiven me so you should too.

Yeah, it sounds ridiculous to us. And it makes us angry. But for a moment remember that this person is mired in a terrible pit of sin. Their morality meter has been shut off for a very long time. What they need right now is a few things. First, they need intervention. They need someone to speak the truth in a loving way to them. Second, they need someone to listen to them carefully. Third, they need someone who is going to love them – because this person is going to come to their senses soon and most of the world/church is going to be very angry with them.

Fallen pastors/fallen people say some very ridiculous things. Why? Because they have spentarrogant the past few months/years hiding their sin. And they’ve gotten really good at it. Also, they know the Bible pretty well – and they will use it as a tool to try to justify their sin. Is that right? Nope. It’s terrible. But that’s the place they are in.

And for a moment realize that all of us – each one of us – has justified our own sin at some point in our lives. We were all enemies of God before He saved us.

That’s why when I get asked one of those questions I listed above – I don’t get mad. I just remember that people are in a place where their sin has overwhelmed them to a point where they are not thinking clearly. Their sin has so much control over them that they are living the life of a person who is bound to do and say things that are not glorifying to God. I asked most of those questions when I fell. I was the same self-serving, sinful, blinded person. I thought I was okay, but I wasn’t. And I didn’t want to listen to anyone.

They don’t realize it. In fact, in some way, they will think that God is in control of that situation and anyone who speaks against them is their enemy. It’s part of their defense mechanism when they are in full sin justification mode. I know this because I’ve been there.

And I also know what it’s like when God comes in and takes off the blinders. I know what it’s like when God humbles us and lets us know that we have sinned horribly. It’s not the prettiest moment.

grace3But I’m thankful that in that moment, He also shows His amazing grace. I know that people aren’t always the kindest when we sin, but God is patient and long-suffering. People will say things and do things in reaction to our sin – and that is a result of our actions. But eventually, God will humble us and restore us if we humble ourselves.

Next time, I’m going to answer those questions above that a lot of fallen pastors (and church leaders who are trying to keep the peace) ask when they have been caught.

Churches, Christians, pastors, we are in a period of crisis. Pastors are falling at an alarming rate – some are committing suicide. What are we going to do to stop it? How will we change the church culture so that our ministers can become stable and secure?

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

____________________________

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.

WBFFA: Don’t Shake It For The Squirrels. Please.

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in music, WBFFA | Posted on 08-03-2014

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ffaOnce again, it’s time for the Weekend Blog Free For All where I write about something not related to my ministry. I often write about recent music that is filled with bad metaphors or similes – like how wagon wheels don’t rock.

But I really need to go back a few years on this one. I don’t listen to country music. Ever. So, when I heard Luke Bryan’s “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” while in a gas station (where I hear a lot of country songs) I knew I had found a song to write about. It’s not new. It was released in 2011 and has sold over 2 million copies. If you’re not familiar with it, here it is:

First, a little background on this country masterpiece. According to the Wikipedia page on this song, Bryan said he was inspired to write this song after listening to hip-hop. Bryan is known for his other singles such as “Rain is a Good Thing” (nice to know), “We Rode in Trucks“, and “Drunk on You.” He is the recipient of the Academy of Country Music Awards’ Entertainer of the Year apparently.

In the intro the video, they interview some of the dancers and one says unequivocally, “I used to ride my horse to Burger King.” Well, who doesn’t?

So let’s discuss lyrics. My favorite part of these posts. The songs I like to write about usually have lines that just stand out at me and question my faith in humanity. Throughout the whole song, he’s speaking to his “country girl” and is asking her to “shake it.” In the first part of the song, he encourages her to find a platform to shake it from. He suggests the hood of his daddy’s tractor. Or a tool box. It doesn’t really matter. As long as she’s shaking it.

For a moment, let’s skip the amazing chorus. The next verse has a bit of promise, I think. He seems to recognize squirrelsthe young woman’s inherent beauty and respect she deserves when he says, “Somebody’s sweet little farmer’s child.” Awwwww. That’s nice. But it doesn’t last. Yeah, she’s someone’s daughter. So what does he ask this nice woman to do?

Shake it.

But not just to shake it. In the chorus, he wants her to shake it for all to see. And he gives a list of those she should be “shaking it” for. Let’s see. She should be shaking it for the young bucks sitting in the honky tonks. Because I’m sure they will enjoy watching her interpretive dance movements. She should shake it for the rednecks rocking until the break of dawn. Because I’m sure they will appreciate her rhythm and timing.

Then the song just gets weird. And this is the part that just made me want to write about this very strange song. See, it wasn’t enough to show off his woman for the humans around. No, he decided to take it a step further and included the animal kingdom.

So, he exhorts his darling shaking woman to shake for the birds and bees. It’ll rhyme in a moment. Kinda. Then he wants her to shake it for the catfish swimming in the creek. The catfish? Listen, I’m an Arkansas native and I know a little about catfish. Those suckers are bottom dwellers. And even if they cared about a human female “shaking it” they wouldn’t see her from their position at the bottom of a muddy creek. Just an observation.

squirrelbanjoBefore I decimate the next part of the chorus, I want to quote one of the dancers who says something in the middle of the video. She says about the country life, “There’s an honesty in it. This is me, this is who I am.” We next see her dancing in front of a big tractor tire in thigh high boots.

The next part of the chorus is when Bryan encourages his date to shake it for the crickets and the squirrels. Yes. The squirrels.

I have to think for a moment that while writing this song, Bryan had to have a visual image of this. He had to see a country girl dancing and shaking it for an audience of squirrels. Simple little mammals who gather nuts, get really confused in the middle of the road when a car is approaching, and spend their lives hopping from limb to limb of the trees they live in.

Now, that is honesty. That is obviously what that dancer meant when she said, “This is who I am.” She can be who she is when she’s shaking it for a band of confused squirrels.

In a moment of honesty, surely Luke Bryan had a flash of thought that said, “This line is really ridiculous.” Or maybe he didn’t. Even if he did, it didn’t seem to matter. He wants his women dancing for squirrels. And catfish. And crickets.

The other line that struck me was promising. He asked his shaking woman to shake it to the moon. Maybe Luke Bryan is trying to find another alternate plan for space travel. Heck, since NASA shut down, we need another way to explore space. It might be that next week President Obama announces that we will be visiting the moon again led by a team of shaking country women. It could happen.

Before you write a nasty comment, I realize this song is supposed to be a bunch of fun and is meaningless. I get shakeitthat. Meaningless songs are necessary. They have good rhythm, are fun to sing along with, they make us happy and create an urge to dance.

But dancing for squirrels? Really? Think about this for a moment. What if this song was the only communication that somehow (by FM waves) reached the ears of an intelligent life-form in the universe? Imagine if they were able to decode it and understand it. The alien leader would turn to his minions and probably say, “Let’s go destroy that planet.

Songs should be fun and enjoyable. But dancing for squirrels and catfish? We can do better. We really can. Or maybe we can’t. I guess if we did do better, I’d have nothing to write about on Saturdays.

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

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Did you like this? Maybe not. But you might like my now infamous Wagon Wheel post or its sequel, my post about “The Ceiling Can’t Hold Us“, my post about how awful Candy Crush is, my post about “Get Your Shine On”, what Christians should think about Justin Bieber, my poor attempt to start the unity selfie, or the one about “Boys ‘Round Here.”

When I’m not being cynical about pop culture, I do run a ministry to help fallen pastors here at fallenpastor.com. I also wrote a book. It is designed to help people understand forgiveness and the problems within the church. Check it out – it’s on Amazon and everything.

 

Serious Help For Your Church And Pastor

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in burnout, church leadership, churches, pastoring, pastors, speaking | Posted on 06-03-2014

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I’m in the middle of this blog series about how pastors are in serious trouble. And they are. Pastors are falling at an alarming rate.

Something needs to be done.

crisisI get email after email from pastors who are either in crisis mode or who have fallen. You know what? I’m praying that one day I won’t get any emails any more. I’m praying that there will be a day where denominations, churches, and leaders will have worked with their pastors to prevent ministry failure.

We’re not there yet.

You know what’s a shame? There is not much of a market for people to speak on preventing ministry failure.

Do you know what there is a market for? Pastors who can speak on spiritual gifts, the end times, tell you how to make money, church growth, revival, etc.

But hardly any church/denomination/association/church council/church leadership group out there has the foresight to ask a speaker or group of speakers to come to their church and talk to their people about how to prevent their leaders from falling. Falling how? Falling from conflict, into adultery, leaving the ministry because they’ve had enough, marriage problems that come from being in the ministry, or even the awful anxiety and depression that come with being in the ministry.

Know why? Because it is not something most churches/church leaders/pastors/denominations/associations want to even acknowledge even exists.

And I understand. When I was a pastor – before I fell – I didn’t know it was a problem. But I do now, after I fell. And I can tell you that after I fell and wrote a book about it I talk to ministers every week who are in your pulpits every week – they are struggling to keep it together.

75% of pastors say they go through a time of stress so severe, they consider quitting. But guess what? Most of them keep a nice church face on and keep on going, because that’s what they feel like they need to do.

I hope someone out there sees a need for a speaker. Maybe not me but there’s a link to the right of my blog there for “Pastorhelper.org” with other guys even more qualified than me. Men who have traveled the road. Men who can speak to the congregation, associations, men’s groups, leadership teams and tell them just how hard it really is and what can prevent a total disaster before it happens.

Please, do something before it’s too late.

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

____________________________

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 In Trouble 3: Ministers Are Fragile

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in burdens, burnout, Christ, church, church leadership, churches, conflict, counseling, depression, fallenness, humillity, isolation, pastoring, pastors, prevention, pride, stress, struggles | Posted on 05-03-2014

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handlePastors are in trouble. There seems to be an uptick of pastors leaving the ministry because of adultery, stress, conflict and some are committing suicide. In this series, I’m asking, “Why?” Last time, we looked at the church culture for answers. Now, let’s turn our attention to pastors.

Pastors are weak people. They’re fragile. If you could ship one in a large container via UPS, you’d need to put, “Handle With Care,” on the side.

I say this with utmost respect and familiarity. I was once a pastor and I fell. I talk regularly to fallen pastors and pastors in crisis. I even talk to pastor friends who are undergoing tremendous problems. In my book, I quote several statistics that back the fact up as well:

  • 30-40% of ministers ultimately drop out of ministry
  • 75% go through a period of stress so great, they consider quitting
  • 90% work more than 46 hours a week
  • 50% felt themselves unable to meet the needs of the job
  • 90% felt inadequately trained to cope with ministry demand
  • 70% say they have a lower self-esteem now compared to when they started in ministry
  • 40% reported serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month

Pastors Should Be Weak

Biblically speaking, all of us are weak. Most of us know the verses. jars

  • But we have this treasure [knowledge of the glory of God] in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Corinthians 4:7, ESV)
  • But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29, ESV)

I don’t know any pastors who don’t think this is true. In fact, I know most pastors who speak of ministers of fallen and say, “I am a weak person. I know that could happen to me. I know I have to be careful.”

So, if pastors know they are weak, why are they falling at such a high rate?

For Some Pastors, Their Humility is “False Hustle”

I work in sports medicine and cover a lot of basketball. Long ago, I was talking to a girls basketball coach about a player he had. She was always running around the court, moving as fast as she could, sweating like a dog, but she never seemed to be doing anything that contributed to the team.

The coach said, “She’s got what we call ‘false hustle.’ She moves fast and it looks like she’s doing something. It looks like she’s playing the game, but she’s just running around with no real purpose.

bballI fear that there are a lot of pastors who say the words, “I know I could fall just like anyone else,” but unfortunately, they have pride deep in their hearts. Pride says, “I don’t need help from anyone. I’m the pastor. I’m the one who is supposed to have the answers.” They can fix their own problems. They don’t need close friends, they can run the church. They don’t need anyone’s opinion. I know. I’ve been there.

And ultimately, what they never seem to need is the objective opinion of a counselor, mentor, spouse or pastor telling them that they might be headed down the wrong path.

What they’re engaged in looks like ministry. They’re working hard, visiting, smiling when they need to smile, preaching when they need to preach, but they have neglected their own soul. They haven’t protected themselves from a fall. There is a wall of isolation around them. To be fair, it might be there because they’ve been hurt before – or it might be there because they don’t want to delegate anything. Either way, trouble is brewing.

What Can Be Done?

I’ve covered this and it seems so simple, but it holds great truth. I’m worried that many ministers have forgotten their calling. It didn’t happen intentionally. But pastors, when they started had something very simple, but very powerful – they had their calling from God and faith in Him.

I bet if pastors went back and thought about their first sermons, they’d cringe in terror. Most pastors think their early stuff was pretty awful. And compared to where they are now, it probably sounds that way to them. But that’s not the point.

The point is that in the beginning, we knew that no matter what came, we knew we had the Everything Else Follows PreachingWord of God and faith in Christ and we could get through anything. Somewhere along the way, the extra jobs came. The programs came that were so important. The committee meetings piled up. In time, we forget to rely on God and we start to rely on our “talents” and the programs that are supposed to bring people into the church.

But Christ is really all we need. Allowing Him to take control of His church and do what He will with it. We looked at the clay pot within us and decided it had grown strong because of our experience and position.

But it’s not. We were called because we were fools. Because we are weak. And that’s okay.

The stress, anxiety, depression, and feelings of failure came when as weak fools and clay pots, we decided to place burdens on ourselves that God never designed for us to bear. And so, we break. We fall apart. We shatter.

God has called us and has equipped us. But the entire time, He has chosen us because He will do the work through us and receive the glory for it.

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

Extra Content: Excellent article from lastingleaders.com on Overwhelmed Pastors

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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.

Pastors in Trouble 2b: The Community of Faith

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in burdens, Christ, church, church face, church leadership, church members, churches, community, conflict, culture, depression, forgiveness, isolation, leadership, ministry, pastoral care, pastoring, relationships | Posted on 28-02-2014

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Bryan Grant Real Estate PhotographyI’ve been writing about why so many pastors are in trouble. Pastors are leaving the ministry at an alarming rate. Some are committing adultery, some are just quitting, some leave over conflict, and shocking there seems to be a rise in pastor suicide. What’s going on?

This post is the second part of the discussion about one of the issues that needs to be addressed – our churches. Make sure you read the first part before you start here.

What does church look like today? A club. We go to churches that are bigger and have great programs for our kids (that is not a knock on large churches with dynamic youth programs, by the way). A place where we can sit in the back and not be noticed. We don’t want them to know who we really are.

Where did we go wrong? When did we stop being a community of faith and just another club to join?

I’m afraid one of the problems has something to do with the question I asked in the beginning of this series – “Are you loving people the way Christ intended for you to?

If we are, then when people sin in the community of faith, we will act out Galatians 6:1, conflictBrethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

Or, if we are having a conflict or disagreement with another member of the community of faith, we won’t let it ride or have a grudge with them: Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

Guess how all of this affects a minister? Not good. One of the leading causes of the downfall of a pastor is isolation. Did you know that 70% of pastors do not have someone they consider a close friend? Pastors won’t find that statistic shocking at all.

Knowing that, it won’t surprise you that the majority of ministers will never, ever get close to a church member or a church leader. I’ll give you three reasons.

First, the pastor has probably been burned before when he got close to a church member. He told a deacon or elder something that was bothering him or a secret. And that person either betrayed his confidence or used that secret against the pastor.

This awesome Razorback is metaphorically showing us the distance most pastors put between themselves and church members.

This awesome Razorback is metaphorically showing us the distance most pastors put between themselves and church members.

Secondly, the pastor has been taught in seminary or by a mentor to never get close to church members. I was taught in seminary not to confide in church members or get too close. Why? We were told by a professor that if you did, that person might use your secrets or feelings against you.

Third, some pastors don’t want to make friends because they know that their job won’t keep them there long enough to make lasting relationships. (Dr. York had a great blog related to this topic and you should check it out.)

Of course, these reasons are good reasons, but they’re mostly based on mistrust. How can a pastor have a good relationship with his church if he never makes friends there? But I can see the other side. Why would he make friendships if he’s been burned in the past?

Here’s what I’ll say about all of it. We need to reform our churches so that we become communities of faith again. Where we all care about one another – like family. Pastors need to be able to trust their members enough to be friends with them. Yeah, it might not work out. Jesus was betrayed by one of his own. But he still loved.

Local churches need to be fervent about forgiveness. When someone falls in the church, they are your family. If they sin, go after them. Restore them to Christ. Guess what? The pastor is part of your community of faith too. If he does something awful, he needs the love of rescueChrist displayed to him as well. I’m not talking about restoration to the pulpit – I’m talking about restoration to Christ.

When we start acting out the compassion and love of Christ to our fellow believers, we will begin to see changes in ourselves and our fellow Christians. When we begin to bear the emotional weight of one another, all of our burdens become lighter. And when we share our problems, victories, pain, depression, hurt, and joy together – that’s when we truly become a community of faith.

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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.

Pastors in Trouble 2a: The Community of Faith

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in burnout, Christ, church, church face, church leadership, church members, churches, community, conflict, culture, fallenness, forgiveness, leadership, pastoring, pastors, relationships | Posted on 26-02-2014

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troubleIn my last post I asked two questions – why are so many pastors in trouble? We have pastors committing suicide, depressed, committing adultery, just quitting, and some are leaving because of conflict. Why?

The other question was a personal one. I wanted you to ask yourself whether you were loving people the way Christ intended for you to. Go back and read the post if you haven’t. It’s our beginning point. If, as a Christian community, we are going to fix these problems and take them seriously, we have to start answering some questions.

We have to be shocked that more and more pastors are committing suicide. We have to be shocked over statistics where 80% of pastors say they are suffering from depression. We must have some sort of twinge of pain when we learn that 77% of pastors say they do not have a good marriage.

Some of us think, “Well, it’s not my problem. The pastor knows where to get help. He can fix himself. He’s got the Bible. He knew it was a difficult profession when he got called. I’m sure he’s doing what he needs to take care of himself.”

I have a surprise for you. He’s probably not. Most pastors don’t do what they need to be doing to take care of themselves. I’ve blogged about it before – most ministers think they can fix their own problems.

Let’s look at one of the problems I believe is responsible for so many pastors leaving the ministry. Simply put, instead of living as communities of faith, we are Sunday gatherings of happychurchpeople with bright smiles who have little connection with one another and are engaging in one more weekly activity.

Let me explain what I mean. The church as we find it in Scripture has Christ as its head. We owe all to Him. He is the reason we exist. When we speak of church, we should be speaking of it as all those who have been redeemed by Christ. When we meet locally as a body of believers, that is a local church gathering.

When we find a local church gathering, we ought to be doing it for the right reasons. We ought to be there first because we love Christ and want to join with those of like mind who worship Him in spirit and truth. We also want to go there because we want to be able to follow Scripture and hear the Word preached. We should desire to be there so we can use our spiritual gifts and become people who are mission minded in our community.

Something else should happen to us when we decide where we belong. We become part of that community of faith. And when we do, we aren’t looking at the church and saying, “What can you do for me?” We are humbly approaching Christ and asking, “How can I serve you here?

worshipWhen we enter a community of faith, we are part of that functioning body. And what does a body of believers in love with Jesus Christ do? They act like the believers in the early church did. They love one another. Their fellowship is sweet. It’s not limited to a once a week handshake.

Fellowship means being able to share your heart with one another in an honest way and not fearing that the secrets and pains of your life will be the object of scorn or gossip from those within the community. It should be as Christ told us – treat others as you wish to be treated.

We should always be looking to mentor and disciple new Christians. We should always be looking to forgive those who sin. If someone is in need, we ought to help them through any situation. The problem often is that we don’t open up with one another enough to know that anyone is having serious problems.

Why is that? Because we’ve become accustomed, for some reason, to put on our church face facesand ride each Sunday out, looking the best we can. The entire time, many of the people in the pew are going through some of the most difficult moments in their lives – financial burdens, health issues, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, problems with family, job issues – but most will leave it tied up tight in their brain where no one can see it.

It is opposite of what a fellowship of believers is supposed to be. We are called brothers and sisters in Christ for a reason. Yet we build all these walls so that the people we should be trusting and talking to the most know the least about us.

Next post, we’ll be looking at today’s church culture and how we can start making a difference.

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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.

Why Are So Many Pastors In Trouble?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, burnout, church leadership, depression, pastoring, pastors | Posted on 24-02-2014

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Reconciling With A Fallen Pastor, Part 7: So How Do We Reconcile?Ministers are in serious trouble in our country. It’s starting to make headlines more and more.

Pastors are committing adultery, they’re getting burned out at a higher rate, some are unexpectedly leaving the ministry, and some are committing suicide.

From where I sit, I can’t help but think that there is a complete lack of response on the part of every major denomination (not that it’s their problem to solve). I get upwards of seven emails a week from pastors, churches, or leaders in distress – and those are the ones who are contacting me.

I’m networked with a handful of guys who are being contacted regularly by many others.

There is a statistic floating around out there – you might have heard it – that 1,500 pastors a month are leaving the ministry due to moral failure, burnout or conflict. I quote that statistic in my book. It came from a Navigators magazine and it’s a Focus on the Family statistic. The problem is that by now, it’s a little dated.

I weep at the fact that today, there are pastors who feel the only way out is suicide. And if we were able to do an accurate count today, I think the 1,500 number might be higher for pastors who were leaving. And I think if we were able to count the number of guys who were unwilling to take the call to begin with because they don’t want to deal with the church the way it is – I think the number would get even worse.

I’ve been ministering to fallen pastors for four years now. I’d like to discuss the problem for a Reconciling With A Fallen Pastor, Part 1: Before Your Pastor Fallsfew days. We can throw a band-aid on the issue all we want, but we have got to recognize the source issues.

They’re not issues that are foreign to pastors, church leaders, or anyone who has been in church for any length of time. Pastors fall for reasons that we are all familiar with. Unfortunately, they fall for reasons no one is willing to take seriously or do anything about.

If we are going to change these statistics, we are going to have to change the culture of our churches. And it can’t be a blame game. Pastors have to be willing to make changes in their own lives and the way they do ministry. Churches and leaders have to be willing to be honest with themselves and be ready to look at what’s going on to make a difference.

I do want to challenge anyone reading this to start with something simple. I’ve taken a huge problem – the fall of pastors in our nation – and said that it needs to change. It’s not going to change overnight and it’s not going to change with a book or a program or a speech or a blog.

It’s going to change with you. And it’s going to change because you allow Christ to work on your heart. All of us love to look around and say, “Well, the problem is that . . .” I saw an interview about why pastors are falling the other day. The pastor who was interviewed was calling church leaders a bunch of Pharisees. I’m not thinking that’s a good place to start.

So let’s start here. Ask yourself a question, “Am I (not your church, not your Sunday School class, not your spouse or children) loving people the way Christ intended for me to?

Face To Face With My Old ChurchBe careful. It’s easy to do two things with that question. It’s easy to answer it too quickly. It’s easy to say, “Yes, of course. I give my tithes, I pray for people, I go to church on Sunday . . .” If you did that (which is my mistake too often), then take a deep breath and put on your sandals and walk in the shoes of Christ for a while. Go read about what he did in the Gospels. How did he love others?

The other way to mess that question up is by devaluing ourselves and say, “I’m not doing enough.” (Pastors will do this a lot). We will say, “I know I love people, I teach, witness, work in the soup kitchen, but maybe I don’t do it good enough.” The problem with that is maybe we’re doing so many programs that we forgot to just sit at the Lord’s feet and listen. Just get quiet for a moment. A lot of ministers chase after the ministry so hard that they forget to chase after Christ.

For the next few days, I want to talk about what is happening to pastors. We’re falling. We’re hurting. We’re burned out. Some are literally killing themselves.

But it’s the symptom of several larger problems.

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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.

How God Uses The Fallen

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, Christ, grace, ministry, repentance, restoration | Posted on 21-02-2014

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Forgiveness: Who's Saying What?, Part 1Four years ago yesterday, I married my best friend. Not too long before that, I had fallen from the ministry because I had committed adultery. It was a sin that hurt many people, my family and others. It took me a long time to see what the fallout and consequences were.

A few months after my fall I started this blog to try to make sense. Throughout my life I’ve written for many reasons. I write when I’m happy, when I’m sad and a lot of times I write when I’m trying to make sense of things. Those days, I was writing to try to make sense of all the competing voices in my head. I had theological voices, voices of my dead parents, selfish voices, voices of guilt, happy voices – and I didn’t know what to do.

So I wrote.

These four years later, I think back to something Allison said to me one time. She says a lot of smart things when I take time to listen to her. She said, “God uses us because of our mistakes.” For a long time, I had been saying, “God uses us in spite of our mistakes.” She was saying something different.

I had made a mess. A big sinful mess. And for a long time I wasn’t sure God loved me, cared about me, or would forgive me. I didn’t think anyone wanted to love me or talk to me ever again. I had alienated my family, the people close to me, a church, and people who cared about me.

Allison and I had made a decision. We were all the other wanted. And there we were. And I had doubts. I didn’t have doubts about me and Allison. I had doubts about whether God would have any use for me.

I started blogging. Now, let’s fast forward to today. I’ve learned a lot since those days. Those confusing days that ran together. I know that God doesn’t want us to sin. He doesn’t want His leaders to commit adultery.

I also know that I get a lot of emails from all kinds of people. Fallen pastors, churches whose pastors have fallen, fallen pastor’s bluewives, etc. It used to be one or two emails a week. Now its more like seven or eight a week. Guess what I tell them? I tell them what’s biblical. I tell them what’s loving. I tell them what I didn’t understand before. The things that are Christ-like and loving and compassionate.

I don’t affirm sin, but I love them. I reach out. I just listen and let God do His thing.

And in all of that, God uses me – uses us – because of our sin. I had a fallen pastor a few weeks ago call me. He started talking to me and my heart broke for him. And he sounded just like I did when I was spilling my guts out to a guy four years ago. Every story sounds almost exactly like every other story except the details change just a little. I stopped him for a moment and told him, “Hey, I understand – and let me ask you – were you feeling . . . ” and I gave him the four things fallen pastors usually feel and experience before they fall.

He stopped. He said, “It’s like you’re in my head.”

That’s right. I was. Because I’ve been there. I don’t like the fact that I’ve been there, but guess what? In some way, I’m glad I have been there. Because I get to minister to people that most pastors, denominations, churches, and leaders throw into the trash. When these guys have been cast aside, I get to talk to them. And know what? Not many people get them. In fact, no one really understands what it’s like to be a fallen pastor except a fallen pastor.

God uses me because of my sin. Broken, fallen, cast aside – He picked me up, looked at me and said, “I still have use for you. Let me put you back together and give you purpose.”

I cannot express to anyone how much I love the depths of the grace of God for that. And how one day I will be happy to simply fall at the feet of Christ and throw all I have – which will be the most stinky, worthless rags in the world – at His feet and thank Him.

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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.