This last weekend my friend, Fareed Tulbah, had the opportunity to preach at Grace Point. Fareed was run out of ministry about 5 years ago, an alcoholic that turned to a bottle rather than Jesus to cope with his own shortcomings and also the war zone that is church leadership.
This is not the first time Grace Point has been gracious and instrumental in re-establishing the footing of a fallen pastor. My friend Greg Coplen, also an alcoholic, was extended grace and allowed to become the Worship Pastor at Grace Point; Olin Collins was given the opportunity to reclaim his calling as a preacher and teacher after an affair. Each of these men went through a season of recovery and restoration and Grace Point gave them the chance to stand again.
The church culture that lifts pastors to inconceivable heights is the same one that is debilitated when these men fall from the heights they have been placed. There are qualifications to be certain and we should steward those, but the grind of the pastorate is excruciating. I know few men that started on this path at the same time as me that are still on it.
The pressures are great and the isolation greater, just read the latest Leadership Journal. It is sad when Godly men run to ungodly comforts regardless of whether they are pastors or not. The difference is that the pastor loses his profession, not just his job and financial security. His family is uprooted, shamed and often discarded because of the strange relational dynamics that converge when calling, role, job, boards, relationships and disappointment converge.
I’ve watched the judgmental tear down a man because he failed and I can’t help but imagine Jesus doodling in the dirt saying, “You without sin cast the first stone” but what’s significant is what Jesus does next, “Where are your accusers?” “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” Jesus restores through forgiveness.
God’s gifting and calling doesn’t fade because of sin. There may be a season of restoration but restoration is the beautiful picture of Jesus displayed to the world. We should never accept a culture of shame. I love leading Grace Point and a church that restores those who have fallen.