There has been quite a bit of chat across social media about the inappropriate misconducts of several high-profile pastors. While researching online, a few videos caught my attention. Though I recognized names, I was taken by surprise and curiously wondered what happened. I listened to one Pastor in particular, Frederick Price, Jr. as he addressed the congregation, and stepped down from his pastoral position. My heart felt the hurt and remorse in his speech. Honestly, I really respect the manner in which it was handled. It reminded me of another similar situation when the late Bishop Earl Paulk addressed his congregation and stepped down as well.
Truthfully, news about pastors falling into temptations or encountering other problems isn’t surprising. In the Bible, some of God’s greatest men fell into temptations and so, it continues today. Unfortunately, it leaves a lingering effect on how people generally view the church, pastors and Christians. There are always major fall-outs within the church and criticism runs rampant. However, considering all of the rumors, comments, reports and heated discussions that occur on and around social media, here is my question… How should the church family respond to the disheartening news of a pastor’s fallen condition?
To begin, let’s establish that pastors have an enormous responsibility & accountability to their calling, and to those who lead and serve under their leadership. God calls a pastor to be the Shepherd of a flock, but ultimately, we must remember that they are still wrapped in flesh living in a fallen world just like all of us. They experience the same troubles, temptations, and triumphs as we all do. With that being said, allow me to share what NOT to do when pastors fall.
Don’t Make Assumptions
It so tempting to become immersed in the juicy morsels of gossip. We’ll take any snippet of information and create an entire story-line because we thrive on details – who, what, when and where. Before long, we’ll find ourselves joining in on conversations of speculation, accusation and judgement which typically only amount to nothing more than unwholesome talk. (Ephesians 4:29) In most (if not all) cases, we don’t know the story in its entirety, so we should steer clear of assuming the course of a pastor’s actions.
Don’t Become Critical
Be mindful that on the other side of careless words and harsh criticisms are families, friends and people who love and care about a pastor. Criticism causes additional injury to an already devastating and painful situation. Instead, use words to speak and invite healing to those involved. Also, be humble and choose words with great care because the enemy listens. Being critical of a pastor’s fallen state can likewise open the door to personal temptations. (Galatians 6:1)
Don’t Cease Praying
The most significant action during any time of difficulty is prayer but unfortunately, most will spend more time talking instead of praying. Imagine what could be accomplished if Believers came together in unity to specifically pray for the brokenness of a pastor and the church? Lives could be healed, changed and restored! That’s what the Lord delights in and Scripture admonishes us to do. (1 Thessalonians 5:17, James 5:16) Commit to fervent prayer for the leaders, church family, community and all who are affected by the impact of a pastor’s fall. There is power in prayer!
Don’t Leave the Church (in Haste)
The news of a Pastor’s fall emerges, gossip erupts, members are hurt and then what? People walk away in utter disgust and despair. Before making the exit, make certain that it’s by the Spirit and not of the flesh. Our response to situations can often be misguided for many reasons – personality, motivations, emotions, etc. For whatever reason, we must remain spiritually grounded before moving hastily away from a church home. What if God would have you to remain to support the continued work within that church? What is your perception of a pastor? I only pose these questions to consider for thorough examination of self and supplication to God before making a decision.
Don’t Abandon the Faith
The enemy would find great satisfaction in causing Believers to fall away from faith in Christ. If Satan can use the tools of his trade to entice a Pastor (or any of us) with fleshly cravings and they yield, it’s a score for team darkness. Why? Because the enemy knows that people will lose respect for pastors as leaders, walk away and possibly abandon the faith. Then they will use the experience as a reason to stay away from the church and those so-called Christians. Am I correct? Don’t abandon the Faith. People fall short & fail but God does not – cannot fail!
Typically, these points fall in the same order of what happens when there is trouble in a church and it is also part of the enemy’s strategy. So, as Believers, we need to impose God’s Scriptural strategies to counteract. Nothing can excuse or justify sin but as a team, we can rise above the sin and its damaging effects. Most churches have a process in place to address any issues regarding a pastor’s conduct. Allow them to address the issue and our focus should be praying for and supporting the process in love.
Also, we should aim to be wiser in our responses to public news about pastors who fall. Seek opportunities to impart words of wisdom and love in conversations. Let’s be champions for Christ by exemplifying a spirit of humility and strength for our sisters and brothers in crisis. Remember, at the end of the day, we are all on the same journey making our way home. It is the love of God that sustains us and Pastors who fall need to feel that more than we know.