3 Words to Encourage Fallen Pastors

man praying

In the past few years, as a pastor and through my blog, I have had the occasion to minister to some very broken people. Many of those have been pastors or ministers who once had thriving work they were doing for God, but, whether by a personal failure or through circumstances beyond their control, they are no longer serving.

It breaks my heart.

One resource I saw recently showed that 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month in America. Startling.

I want to help some of those think through a process of restoration. I don’t mean to oversimplify a very difficult situation, but often if people can think in terms of a process they can more easily plan their steps. That’s my goal in this post.

Here are three words of encouragement to a fallen pastor or minister:

Recover – Seek forgiveness. Offer forgiveness where needed. Make things right as much as you can with people you have injured. Now is the time to do the right thing. What you do in this step will often determine the degree to which you can be restored.

Also in this step, most important is that you recover in your relationship with God. Ultimately, He is the One you are seeking to please. You can’t earn His love or re-earn His love, but if fellowship has been broken, confess your sins to the One who is faithful to cleanse. Fall on your knees in surrender once again.

Rebuild – Get counseling. This is usually paid counseling and it will be worth the investment. There are ministries that offer this, and there are those who will fund this, but just as you wouldn’t look for free medical help from a medical doctor, don’t neglect this step even if it isn’t free. It’s necessary in almost every case where disruption in ministry has occurred at a level where you had to resign.

Also important, find a few men (or women if you’re female) who you can trust and who can build into your life, hold you accountable and help you find focus again. Give them freedom to walk with you daily and speak into your life for the months to come, even after you return to ministry.

Rebirth – Accept grace. Launch again. It may or may not be into a ministry such as you left, but if God called you to follow Him with your life, I don’t see examples in Scripture of Him releasing that call. I see where you can reject Him and refuse to follow, but His grasp on you is firm until the end. I don’t agree with those who would say you’re forever barred from serving anywhere. (I’m sure those legalist will struggle with this post.) Where’s the grace in that? It’s certainly not amazing grace.

Don’t rush it. Make sure you are healthy enough. Follow the steps above first, but at some point you’ll need to turn from where you were and start again. There is still much unfinished Kingdom business to be done.

Be helpful to those who may need this post.

What else would you advise?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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  • […] 3 Words To Encourage Fallen Pastors ┬áRon Edmondson notes that 1500 pastors leave the ministry every month in America due to uncontrollable circumstances or personal failure. He offers sage advice about how to move ahead. […]

  • Thanks for even THINKING of the "fallen" pastor, Ron. My husband was forced out of a church about 4 months ago now. It was a very very traumatic situation for our whole family, horrible accusations, threats, etc. We are crushed and broken, and haven't been to church since. I honestly don't see how we will ever be able to full be immersed in a church again. I KNOW where I should be spiritually, but when I try to seek and dig deep to get to that place….nothing. So despite my oversharing here for all to see, thanks again for your thoughtfulness.

  • Anonymous says:

    Just a thought or question… In your opinion; are there any sins which disqualifies someone from the ministry and/or serving in a leadership position such as Pastor or Deacon?

  • tony says:

    Ron, wonderful post. I think my favorite, most hard hitting point of the post is "Accept grace. Launch again. It may or may not be into a ministry such as you left, but if God called you to follow Him with your life, I don’t see examples in Scripture of Him releasing that call." Just today I felt like the Lord said to me "Take another shot at it." It's one of the few times I've heard him say that, but it's true. His grasp never gives up on us and I thank you for encouraging those who once felt his presence as they preached or taught, to give it a shot again, in whatever capacity HE decides. You're a great voice to the body. Thank you for your sacrifice.

  • Tim Herman says:

    I recently taught on this subject, using David's Sin of Urriah (Bath-Sheba) as the study. Urriah and Bath Sheba's father were 2 of David's mighty men. So, how did he maintain leadership after murdering one of his key leaders? I think the answer is in Psalms 51.

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