An up-and-coming young preacher, Victor Samuels had just finished work on his doctorate. He seemed destined for great things, and his new congregation was thrilled he’d accepted the call to become their pastor. After his first three weeks in the pulpit, Sunday noon table-talk among congregants fell along similar lines. Everyone felt as though they were part of a modern day fairy tale, and Dr. Samuels was Prince Charming.
“He’s just the Godly man our church needs,” the deacons said.
“His sermons are right to the point,” older members concurred.
“He’s handsome and a dedicated family man as well,” many young couples also noted.
“He SO tells it like it is,” the youth agreed.
The congregation grew exponentially under Dr. Samuel’s expert leadership.
Week by week, new members poured in. For the first time in years, church pews were packed with people eager to hear his succinct and Godly sermons. He always seemed to have jus the right words to say, and he never shied away from touchy subjects like tithing and sin, either. In fact his sermons on sin and its consequences were reminiscent of preachers much his senior.
During the fall of his first full year at the church, however, the young pastor began losing weight and was hospitalized. After numerous medical tests, the diagnosis was a stress-related illness. Stress? Hadn’t Dr. Samuels preached repeatedly about trusting God for every need? When he recovered, he confessed from the pulpit, “I’ve failed God—and you—by not practicing what I’ve preached. From now on, I promise to lean more on Him than on myself. Please, please forgive me.”
“Of course, Dr. Samuels. Just take care of yourself,” the deacons said.
“Yes, you’ve been working much too hard,” older members concurred.
“We understand you need to balance church and family responsibilities,” many young couples also noted.
“Forgiven totally, Dude,” the youth agreed.
Even so, one Sunday a few weeks later, Dr. Samuels unexpectedly resigned from the pastorate—and from the ministry completely— stating health reasons.
Our stunned congregation went into mourning at the loss of this great pastor, preacher, and stellar example of Godliness. We questioned where we’d failed him. Surely this wasn’t God’s will. Had we been too demanding or too dependent on him?
And, as much as our church needed him, it seemed he also needed to be a pastor. His calling appeared genuine, and congregants begged him to take a break but not to leave the ministry. However, nothing could be said to dissuade him. When he quickly packed belongings and left, he left behind not only an empty pulpit but empty hearts.
Then, very shortly, rumors began circulating that Dr. Samuels and his beautiful wife had separated. Although nearly beyond comprehension, it was assumed that this had been her choice, her fault, and her failure. Soon after, though, news followed that he’d moved in with another woman! Suddenly, it became clear that Dr. Samuels hadn’t been stressed by the demands of leading a church but from leading a double life.
Pews emptied and attendance dropped steadily over the next few weeks. New converts questioned their faith. Those who remained to rebuild the church after the emotional storm were reminded that God’s word says clearly that no one is above temptation or sin. Instead of Prince Charming, Dr. Samuels now seemed more like the Humpty-Dumpty who had a great fall. And, it would take more than “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” to put our church and our faith back together again. It would take the King of Glory to do that.
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