One of the realities of being a pastoral family is that you live your life in public. It's not like being a superstar, there are no paparazzi chasing you through the streets, but people are aware of what you do and what you don't do. The problem with this is that pastors are human and, from time to time, they stumble. This past week, it came to light that a good pastor friend of ours had stumbled. He and another pastor were revealed to be having an affair. Unfortunately, the affair and repercussions have become widely publicized and will be a disciplinary hearing in which he may (although hopefully not) lose his orders.
Chris and I were both beyond shocked at this knowledge. My first instinct was to call the pastors wife, who is also a good friend, and offer her support. My second instinct was to contact this pastor and say, "What happened!?" I can't even begin to understand how this happily married man with a bright future ahead of him could risk everything by engaging in this relationship, and I am heartbroken for his wife and his ministry. However, his wife is committing to try and reconcile their relationship and put the pieces of their marriage back together. God is truly with her, for she states that she has been able to show her husband God's mercy and grace in ways that he has never experienced before. This is so contrary to how we're taught to act in society when we have been hurt or wronged, and I greatly admire her strength and godliness.
I cannot help but think back to the story of David in this situation. David was "a man after God's own heart". He was the chosen one, the true king of Israel. Through David came the line of people who bore Jesus into the world. God favored David, and David loved God. However, even David could not avoid the fall into temptation and sin. David lusted after Bathsheba, took her despite the fact that she was the wife of someone else, bore a child with her, and murdered her husband. When confronted with his sins, David made a full confession. He tore his clothes, prostrated himself at the feet of the altar, and prayed God's forgiveness. God, in his infinite mercy and love, forgave David. In the end, David remained faithful to God and was given a place of honor in biblical history. He was a strong king, both wise and compassionate. And, he put God first. That is not to say that there were not consequences to his actions. David and Bathsheba lost the child they had conceived (although they later gave birth to Solomon) and the family was plagued with bitter family feuds which resulted in the loss of one of David's other sons. Yet, in spite of his human frailness, David was redeemed.
I believe that there is redemption for our friend. I believe, and have seen in others, relationships grow stronger through situations like this. I also believe that our friend can be a better pastor through this. If God is within you, you cannot walk through fire and not be refined. My prayer is that he and his wife will find healing, that he will continue in ministry, and that he will use this situation to effectively minister to others.
The reality is that pastors are human, they all stumble. At one point, your pastor will fail or disappoint you. The question is, can you show him or her God's grace and mercy in their hour of need, as they try always to show it to others? As Christians and members of a Christian community, we are called to uphold our leaders. This means holding them to high standards, yes, keeping them accountable in their work, yes, but it also means demonstrating Christ's love and grace to them, as we are called to demonstrate it to each other.
Please pray for your pastors today. Pray for their families. We, likewise, will be praying for you.
Blessings and Peace,