As a pastor, my calling is undeniable. Inside I feel deeply burdened when I do something that could affect the congregation. Conversely, when something happens within the congregation, I feel an equal amount of responsibility to the members to "right the wrong(s)".
As I continue to see families make decisions for their lives, it is easy to say why someone does something (or doesn't). It is easy, to make the mistake of creating more problems by allowing the human paranoia to kick in...and for us to kick peaceful, pure thoughts to the curb for a season. As a pastor when you "lose" a family, you are immediately filled with bewilderment (if you don't know why because of a lack of communication or any other number of reasons), anger, jealousy, inward thought to wards "Why would someone want to leave our congregation?!"
First off, shut up. Your mind has all kinds of tricks the adversary will ensnare you with, just so you are distracted. Admit that you are flawed and that it is more than likely that you didn't invest as much as time as you could (or they, the individual/family) or needed/wanted you to. If you truly seek out help, by the way, it doesn't mean you no longer can be a pastor. The taboo shtick of being perfect left you as a human when you became aware of right and wrong. So quit trying to be perfect. Stop admitting every week that you are broken and flawed (because where is the restoration and grace of Jesus in that) and start working on it. If you don't, no forward progress can be made.
Progress, in the verb form means "To make progress; to move forward in space; to continue onward in course; to proceed; to advance; to go on;"
Progress in a marriage can be new levels of trust built.
Progress in a friendship may include vacationing together or watching each others kids for date night.
Progress in your spiritual life must have evidence of an advancement...otherwise you are stalled out.
Reasons for Halted Progress in a Pastor's Life?
#1 Not acknowledging or knowing past hurt, rejection, pain and dealing with it so it doesn't affect you and/or the congregation.
#2 Knowing your past is toxic and not dealing with it.
#3 Intentionally ignoring God because you have magically found a new path, never heard before with a new interpretation of the Gospels (which is untrue and MUST be self-centered/self-serving).
#4 Justifying your actions with even more sin, like lying or manipulation.
Reasons for Restoration in a Pastor's Life?
#1 His family, the elders and the congregation encompass, with prayer, the office of pastor and seek the Holy Spirit's discernment for restoration.
#2 Like Peter in John 21, Peter has 1.) renounced that he knew Jesus 2.) Broke trust by telling Jesus he would NEVER betray him. If Peter can be restored to his leadership ("tend to my flock/sheep") then why can't others?
#3 Certain sins take on different paths of restoration. It is also vital to point out that when leadership surrounding the pastor have open lines of communication and refuse to confront, according to Matthew 18 principles, then they should also share in the neglect of responsibility as leadership.
Leadership and the Pastor work together to commit to excellence. When one feels other leadership is not committing, then (again), refer to Matthew 18 and talk to them. Don't send an impersonal e-mail in which text and inferences may be misconstrued. Don't text or even call. Talk face-to-face. There is something good that happens when both parties can look each other in the eyes with love, after prayer, and commit to resolving an issue.
Perhaps then, instead of allowing our flesh to struggle through...His Glory and Goodness will. Only then may we be called peacekeepers and children of God.
Frank E. Coleman is pastor of Compass Church. Married, two boys (and baby Coleman due Sept. 19!), and a transparent faith journey. He currently lives in Evansville, IN and works bi-vocationally in Men's Shoes at Dillard's in Eastland Mall.