The challenge was actually laid as a suggestion. It hung in the air for just a moment before the conversation went on to other things. Later on I noticed that it was still there, not in a full on, offensive lineman in your face kind of way, but more like a feathery tickle in the back of the throat that you cant seem to cough away kind of way. “Maybe you should write a blog for fallen pastors.” Yeah, right!
After my friend had gone on his own way and I busied myself about my work, the question, the suggestion, still kept tickling the back of my soul. A week or two later and still the words echo, with a little bit of reverberation to add weight to the subject, “Maybe you should write a blog for fallen pastors, pastors, pastors (echo, echo, echo). So since I can’t shake the thought and the words that were spoken a few weeks ago, I find myself becalmed at work with no one to distract me from sitting and wondering what that could be or what that might look like. Usually I am more of a verbal processor, but I can often times process thoughts nearly as well at the keyboard, so here it is, the process.
My biggest question, and of course the question itself begs some questioning as well; am I the right one? Of course the question needs to be examined to make sure that it is an honest question rather than a deflection from the real issue. A quick check of my heart doesn’t seem to reveal any duplicitous motive, but rather an honest questioning of whether my experience and outcomes qualify me to be adequately used of the Spirit in such a manner.
Another question to be asked is whether or not my experience has been properly aged. It seems so recent that I was one of the fallen pastors, and perhaps the journey toward healing and wholeness in Christ has not yet matured to the point required to offer competent encouragement.
Finally, and this being the biggest issue in my mind, is that of my natural level of leadership and how that relates to other leaders. On a leadership scale of one to ten, with one being the lowest and ten being the highest I would place myself at a solid six. A quick overview of those fallen pastors whom I am acquainted with and that come to mind shows a consistent rating of eights and nines (some I would consider tens, but I am trying to be conservative). What really do I have to offer and does my own level of leadership become an obstacle to what Christ wants to do?
One final addendum; when I have heard or read of fallen leaders the story has a similar process of crisis, fall, repentance and a restoration with those surrounding the leader, starting with those closest and branching out to those in the peripheral sphere of influence. I, on the other hand, completely blew apart the inner circle making a restoration of the original relationships impossible.
While I am certain beyond doubt that God has forgiven me, I am forgiving myself, and that restoration is indeed taking place, my journey is not necessarily traditional or press worthy. It is, however, a real journey of a leader who succumbed to dark thoughts in the midst of the stresses of the position, which led to dark deeds. It is a real story of a fallen man who, though broken and dirty in the midst of a mire of my own making refused to hide from the light of the Holy Spirit. It is also the biography of the path toward forgiveness, the granting of and the receiving of that wonderful grace gift which is readily available but seems allusive by the very nature of its simplicity.
My mind is still drawn back to the story I read of the writhing and raw mass of humanity who had received the name Rock from our Messiah. The man sifted and broken, unable to do or stand on any of the brave promises he made to Jesus. I think back to the Jesus who allowed all of His closest friends to be sifted personally by Satan, and who prayed for this one man’s faith through his fallenness. I think of the love and providential care as Jesus gave Peter The Broken the all important mission to encourage the rest of the group, all broken apart and sifted as well.
If you are a fallen leader, I stand with you as one fallen as well. No amount of restoration will ever erase the history of our failures in the minds of many, but in the mind of God those sins are all as if they never were. I want to encourage you as I am being encouraged that our failures allow us to do what we forgot how to do in our former roles, and that is to lead from the place of our weakness rather than our strengths and gifts. I am not sure in light of scripture how obedient Peter was in walking out his given ministry as an encourager, but as Jesus said in regards to John, “What does that mean to you? You follow me!”
If you have a mind to do so, walk with me down this path a little ways and we can both see, and even discuss among each other, what it is (if anything) that Christ will do with our experiences, and perhaps we might find some healing herbs of truth along the path to share, each with one another.