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Who's to Blame When the Pastor Falls?
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When I walked in the restaurant, I laid my eyes on who I thought was my former pastor. He looked like him. He had the same build as he did, yet, yet the woman he was with was certainly not his wife. I would have known her anywhere. The beer bottle sitting before him clearly spoke a million words…words that I was not ready to hear about my pastor that I knew only 6 years ago. My heart sank. Every fiber in my being wanted to walk up to him and ask, “What happened?”, yet at the same time, he probably would have never even acknowledged me. Why? Because it was my church who voted him out of the pulpit. They said he wasn’t following what they wanted, yet he had always told us he was only following what God was telling him to do. He made some rather radical changes in our church. I felt those changes were for the better, but some VIPs disagreed, and made him a public enemy #1 by spreading rumors about him and his wife. And now? How could he have slipped into adultery? How could he drink when he preached against it?
This is only a fictitious scenario of a former pastor’s secretary, wondering how her former pastor and employer could have delved into this kind of lifestyle, yet it happens all over the country. And if it doesn’t happen through sinful actions on the pastor’s part, there are thousands of pastors out there hitting hard times financially, or walking away from the ministry, simply because church members use their pastor like a puppet on a string. They take advantage of him because a pastor is not supposed to be haughty when it comes to money and their family’s welfare – only being paid a minimal salary. They spit in his face when he takes a Godly stand for an immoral issue. They cry “HALT!!” when they aren’t included in a major step of a God-led direction. And when they want to get rid of him, they start stirring up the gossip to make it look like the pastor has done some drastic thing against the church and the community, when the pastor was only a man… called of God.
With permission from a divorced former pastor’s wife who shall remain anonymous, she tells her true story. We were married for ten years before his first church came along. They seemed to really like him. He was a very Godly man. He was good to our children and me. I’ll never forget the Sundays I would leave our youngest in the nursery so I could teach my youth Bible class. But there was no one to care for him, so my husband, who was the pastor, gathered him up in his arms and assured me that he would take care of him during Sunday School. Imagine, a busy pastor rocking his own child in the nursery, while his wife was teaching Sunday School just before the service, yet those are my memories.
We stayed at the church for four years, yet we knew something wasn’t quite right when they started holding secret meetings that he wasn’t invited to. He was asked to resign, yet when I asked several people “Why?” I got as many answers as the number of people I asked, and all of them were fixable, improvable, and never out of character of my husband. He never had fallen morally, yet after a matter of 8 months, and schemes of deception, we were asked not to come back to the church that stood on the same property we lived on. We were asked to vacate our home within a month’s time. My husband was crushed and took a menial job, while I stayed home with our young children.
The following year, we accepted another church who called him as their pastor, yet when I look back, the vote wasn’t as strong as we would have liked. We were only there for 6 months when they used me to attack him with twisted words that I supposedly said, and we were kicked out of the church again. This time, we knew it had nothing to do with him. The chairman of deacons became the next pastor of the church within 3 weeks of dismissing my husband. Only six weeks after we moved there, we learned that this deacon was not considered to be pastor of the church even before we came, because he had been divorced, yet he pushed himself into being pastor of the church anyway. So, we had no place to go and we were living in a state that was not our own, trying to make ends meet while raising our small children. Come to think of it, he nor I ever considered accepting counseling from the fall-out in the first church, yet the second church was more of a blow to our marriage and his career. We went to counseling for a few weeks before my husband was called to another church, in another state far away from our home-state.
This church was a fledgling church, yet at the same time, they had a good spirit about them, and we were voted in 100%. My husband would not have accepted if it had been less. God worked out the entire move both financially and semantically. We were starting afresh, and both of us had great visions for this church. About a year into his tenure there, some members of the church began to mumble and place their fears on the finances of the church, and within eighteen months, all of them had decided to abandon ship, and make the church obsolete. After a morning shopping spree, I walked into the house one cold January morning and noticed my husband lying on the couch. He asked me to come over…he had something to tell me. I looked down into his eyes, yet his eyes were lifeless. The tea color of his eyes had faded away to a grey darkness. He looked at me, and said these words, “I just received a phone call, and all of them have decided that they want to disband the church. They are all going their separate ways.” Meetings were attended, yet he remained silent through all of them, and the doors closed on that church forever…and it seemed that God closed the doors shut on his heart then, too.
My heart grieved for him, yet my actions didn’t make it easier for him. I was fearful of our welfare - more than half of a year, he remained unemployed. I knew my husband was in a depression, yet I didn’t realize how bad it was until I found a liquor bottle in his office. I knew then he needed to find a job or purpose in his life, yet I could not budge him. We attended a non-denominational church, and we would go to church as a family, yet he remained inactive in any kind of church activity except our small group Bible study. He finally found employment, but because of our schedules, we just didn’t see much of each other then.
He then decided to take training in a completely different line of work, which I grudgingly approved of. His classes and his work took him away from home and our time together even more so, when I realized that he was spending 90% of his time away from us. Common purpose between us vanished, and so did our time as a couple. I felt something wasn’t right while out on a much needed dinner date. The next morning, he let me know that he was not in love with me, not for a long time. Nothing was there between us except our beautiful children. Later, I learned why he was spending so much of his time away. Life became very difficult to remain living together, so we parted ways and he divorced me a year or two later. He has chosen a different kind of lifestyle now. A lifestyle I never dreamed he would enter.
So, was it the churches’ fault? Was this kind-spirited, gentle servant of God the victim of church politics and self-righteous people? Are we as a Christian church going to stand by and allow this to happen to other ministerial staff people? Satan is alive and well within the churches of today, and he will stop at nothing to bring down the best of the best. What will the church do to prevent this from happening? Was it the fault of the wife? Who is to blame when a pastor falls?
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Reader Count & Comments
05 Feb 2009
Thought provoking. Thanks.
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