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Five Healing Steps to Take After Your Pastor Falls

fallen crossThe news is out. Your Pastor did something completely out of character. Perhaps they had a physical or emotional affair, stole money or misappropriated funds, secretly abused a family member, or hid an addiction. Whatever it was, it has devastated the church, shocked the community and perhaps destroyed their family.

Understandably, you will experience conflicting emotions and racing thoughts as you process what has happened. This is a normal response as you begin to grieve over the loss of your Pastor. Here are some of the possible reactions that might occur.

“My Pastor couldn’t have done that.” Usually the first initial response is to disbelieve that your Pastor could have done anything like this. After all, who wants to believe that any Pastor is capable of such a thing? Nothing makes sense. The person you know and trust doesn’t match with the accusations. So, you refuse to acknowledge the evidence. This is why denial is a powerful defense mechanism because it allows you to disregard information that is contrary to your belief system.

“How could my Pastor betray us like this?” Once the realization of the truth has settled any remaining doubt, you become angry. There is outrage that a Pastor could do such a thing, irritation that others did not foresee it, frustration that you trusted, and infuriation that God seemed absent. It is not uncommon to experience feelings of wrathful vengeance. While some anger is normal, don’t allow it to take over and control your behavior. If it does, you could act in an equally inappropriate manner as the Pastor.

“If only I said something sooner, this wouldn’t have happened.” When the anger simmers down, the “If only…” game begins. In a desperate desire to control the outcome, you begin searching for ways the problem could have been prevented. You relive the past hunting for warning signs that could have signaled the trouble. But all the deals you make for the future cannot change the current situation. Your bargaining is in vain.

“What’s the point of going to church?” The frustration that there is nothing you could have done to change the outcome quickly leads to sadness. The once joyful church becomes gloomy as members disappear. Hopelessness begins to settles in as you become more aware of the vulnerability of believers. Positive outlooks are replaced with melancholy as the whole thing seems like an illusion. The entire church including the individual members suffer through depression.

“I guess the verse, ‘All have sinned,’ really means all.” Ironically, it is only through a storm like this that the full meaning of the Gospel becomes transparent. If sin did not exist, then Jesus would not have needed to die and no one would need forgiveness and mercy. It is the fullness of the Scriptures that transforms lives, not just the bits and pieces that are more palatable. True acceptance acknowledges the susceptibility of all church members to sinful behavior, including yourself and Pastors, and supplies ample grace.

Most importantly, be gracious to yourself. These steps take time to process and healing should not be rushed. Each needs to go at their own pace; this is not a time to compare journeys. Rather it is a time to show love for one another through patience and kindness.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you need more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 or send me a quick email at growwithchristine@gmail.com.

Is Your Storm More Like Jonah, Job or Jerusalem?

Poor economic times hit many people hard with homelessness, foreclosure, little job opportunities, jobs well beneath skill level or filing for bankruptcy.  While it is easy to blame others for these times, It is also beneficial to evaluate how your actions contributed to the problem.

Jonah, Job and Jerusalem all faced overwhelming difficulties. Jonah was swallowed up by a great fish, Job lost his home and family in a day, and Jerusalem’s King assassinated every family member over a feud. Their lessons can be applied to your life today.

Jonah.  He knew what God wanted him to do. He just did not want to do it. So he took a ride on a ship headed in the opposite direction.  A great storm nearly sank the ship. The crew then confronted Jonah. He confessed that he was the problem and told them to throw him overboard.  Still defiant towards God, Jonah would rather face death then do what God wanted.  The crew reluctantly did as Jonah asked and God in His mercy caused a great fish to swallow him alive.  He remained in the fish for three days until he repented and God released him.

Have you ever known what God wanted you to do but you refused to do it?  Maybe you are in this place right now. Your storm could be a direct result of not disobedience to any of God’s commandments.  The good news is that it is not too late to do the right thing.  Perhaps your economic situation is the result spending more than you have or wanting things that are out of your price range (also known as envy, lust or covetousness).  Take a lesson from Jonah (only, don’t wait until a fish swallows you up) and repent.  Rather, decide to live a life based on gratitude for what God has provided instead of looking over the fence to see what others have.

Job.  Unlike Jonah, Job did not do anything to deserve losing all he had.  Instead Job found himself in the middle of spiritual warfare between God and Satan.  God knowing and trusting Job’s faithfulness allowed Satan to take his home, his wealth, his family and finally his health.  Job was left with three friends who questioned his every action and provided little comfort in his time of need.  In the end, God answers Job’s questions as to why He allowed such tragedy to happen. He reminded Job that He is the creator of all things, the giver of all life, the designer of all forces of nature, the author of all wisdom, the provider of judgment, the source of all strength, the owner of all things, and the defeater of all evil.

Have you had everything taken from you and then turned to God to ask why He would allow such a thing to happen?  Maybe this describes you better than Jonah and you have searched your heart and actions for what you have done wrong and found nothing.  The temptation is to blame God for the state you find yourself in and question His divine nature.  Instead recognize that there are spiritual factors beyond your control and influence.  What you can control in this environment is your reaction, your continued commitment to God, your faithfulness to His word, and your love of His commandments.

Jerusalem.  After the split of the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom following the reign of King Solomon, Jerusalem had a series of Kings both good and bad.  Repeatedly in Scripture we learn that God was displeased with the people and their continued offering of sacrifices to idols.  The idols took different forms and required different sacrifices from small tokens of money to live people.  Even the good Kings failed to completely remove all of the idols from the people and as a result God allowed the evil Kings to take over the land.  The evil Kings would frequently assassinate to gain power, murder family members of previous Kings, and rule through intimidation and fear.  The people who were promised protection by God if they followed His commandments were left without protection from both their own Kings and neighboring nations.

Have you ever wondered why our nation has fallen so far from the original design of the Constitution of the United States and why we seem to be in constant battle with other nations?  One of the mistakes the people of Jerusalem made was looking for the King to do the right thing and then to follow him.  The people had access to the Prophets of the time who willing spoke God’s truth to anyone who would listen from Kings to servants.  As a people we too can look into our own lives and recognize how we are part of the problem our nation faces.  Instead of waiting for the politicians to get it right, we need to get it right in our own homes.  Idols take different forms today but the concept is the same, it is anything that we trust for security or worship more than God.  It can be TV, video games, money, house, job, car, 401K, computer, news, internet, family or friends.  This is not an exclusive list as the point is to evaluate your own life and see if you have an idol you need to remove.

Tough times are difficult to weather.  Reflection into your personal life for potential causes of the tough times is even harder.  But if you evaluate your life using the lessons learned from Jonah, Job and Jerusalem by acknowledging the problems, repenting from the problems and renewing your faith and commitment, the blessings and promises of God will stand in the end.