Wesley Weatherford posted this today and it caused me to think about the need for INTENTIONALITY in restoration of our fallen comrades in ministry…
When Paul wrote “Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” (Galatians 6:1 MSG) he was making it OUR RESPONSIBILITY to restore those who fall among us.
In too many cases, we have failed to live up to OUR RESPONSIBILITY in restoration. We are accomplished speakers, singers, worshipers, givers, but we are not as good at restoration. In the NASB, the verse translates… “considering yourself, lest you also be tempted…” and in so many cases, we don’t consider what we would need and then act upon that.
What are the things needed for restoration? What can we do? Obviously, many are posting on this subject about love, forgiveness and acceptance. What does that mean and how does it translate in real-life terms?
From my experience with some of my friends and other ministerial couples I have known, I’m listing several things WE CAN DO and perhaps as we advance the dialogue, you will add others…remember James said if we see our brother in need and do nothing, how does God’s love dwell in us? The story of the Good Samaritan reminds us that compassion is more than emotion but requires ACTION and PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT.
So, here is my list and I’ll be watching for your additions…
FINANCES…most ministerial couples draw the major portion of their income from the church as well as most all benefits (medical, retirement, perks)…and dismissal from active ministry means sudden loss of income and truth be told too many ministerial couples are but one month’s salary away from financial ruin. In the immediate days after resignation/removal, our colleagues need a financial safety net. In one case, I joined one time with some friends to provide several months of mortgage payments insuring their house would not be lost while our friends found other sources of income. I like the idea one pastor has of putting aside a monthly allotment of funds from his church for such moments, so that in the first hours, there is immediate financial support. Wow, what that must feel like to people in need!
SPIRITUAL…the transition from the “parsonage to the pew” is hard and the distance is farther than you might imagine. We often talk about the worst group to preach to is preachers–and it is because our mindset is in the pulpit and not in the pew. It feels strange and requires courage to get up and find a new church and join fellowship, worship and participate. There is shame, personal disappointment and other factors which become personal hurdles to be overcome. Again, I met a pastor recently and learned that when a minister who he knew was found guilty of moral failure, he called and invited him and his family to move to town and join the church. Upon learning they would accept, he got up to his church and told them ”A new family will be here next week…don’t ask them why they came or how it happened…just love and accept them and let them tell you when they are ready. Some of you need to find jobs for them, help them get their children in school, fill in the missing pieces for this family and we can all be part of a restoration miracle.” Thirty years later, one of the children told me you cannot know how it felt to join that church and be accepted immediately with the INTENTIONAL actions of the new spiritual family. Sounds great, but someone has to take the initiative to know this needs to be done. Restoration is action.
COMMUNICATION…too many times we hear from our fallen comrades that a hard part of transition is the phone stops ringing. I’ve already posted on this earlier but because we don’t know what to say, we don’t call, we don’t engage. But we must…our comrades need connection and they need time, space to talk. They don’t need intrusion but they need to stay connected to friends and relationships which enable stability in difficult times. Make the call…write the letter you are thinking about…it will make a difference.
There are others but this will get us started.
What does restoration look like in real-life terms? Have you been restored? What instruction can you give that will help others?
Rather than philosophize on what we have not done, let’s proactively consider what we can do!
Post a comment and check back on our progress.