Like Anyone Else, Repentant Pastors Need Grace and Forgiveness

Sorrowful-manFor some time now, the ministry of Heal Your Servant has been dedicated to helping ministers who are at any stage of a moral failure. Some have misappropriated funds. Others have made wrong decisions that have adversely affected their congregations, while the majority of the ministers we deal with are trapped in some sort of sexual indiscretion, whether it is pornography, adultery or a dual identity.

These types of transgressions have left a trail of hurt, pain and anger throughout the entire body of Christ. Many say, “Forgive, forgive,” while others declare, “Off with their heads.”

We, the church, are at a pivotal point. We must ask ourselves, Will we continue to systematically destroy those ministers who err, or will we take the time to hear a solution from the Holy Spirit regarding this epidemic?

The question is, How do we as authentic, New Testament believers biblically approach these situations in a manner that glorifies God?

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I have found that the reason that many have a difficulty with this is twofold.

First, many of us are just wounded. Our hurt stems from the fact that we expected much more from a man in such a position.

Second, many of us feel mistreated by these authorities. When that particular individual falters, we exercise vindication toward these men who were abusive toward those of us who were under them in the ministry hierarchy. When the opportunity arises, many seize it. They destroy this person because they never really liked them. This provides a moral high ground to get even for the times in which they were made to feel inadequate by these authority figures.

All of this is understandable. We take offense for that with which we may not have been personally victimized by. We regard these individuals as a non-human subspecies who are not eligible for restorative grace.

The fact is, before they were ministers, these individuals laid their lives before God and dedicated themselves to His service. When God called them, He knew all of their imperfections. He knew of their dysfunctional upbringings and personal traumas. He knew of the chemical imbalances that contribute to these types of manifestations.

I have found that after this type of failure, these men can potentially become extremely sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to others who are experiencing deep pain. Their vulnerability can breed some beautiful fruit. Why would we want to toss them out when they are possibly in their most tender state and can be very effective in ministering to others in a hurting condition?

Whatever the outcome, there is certainly one directive which our Savior commanded. We must forgive!

In dealing with these specific matters, the Holy Spirit has begun to simplify what deems itself to be an extreme complexity. Every circumstance is deeply intricate and must be handled uniquely. Some issues are neurological, and it takes a very anointed and skilled individual to pinpoint the cause-and-effect matters of such cases.  

Dr. Fred Antonelli has dedicated his life to just this. God has anointed him as both a former pastor as well as a licensed mental health professional with a unique understanding of the “soul” (ψυχή, psuche in the Greek, translated "mind") of man. Through his ministry at Life Counsel Counseling Center in Maryland, he has proven over and over that freedom from this type of mentality is not only possible, but is foolproof to those seeking assistance.

Life Counseling Center also has a clinical/Christian sexual addiction program called The Underground. Through both individual IOP (intensive outpatient) counseling as well as their three-day men’s intensive sexual addiction workshops, Dr. Antonelli and his trained therapists look at the “cause” of the issue of addiction rather than just concentrate on the “symptom.” To proceed in this manner would look more like redemption for the sufferer rather than disqualification.

The issue is not whether one agrees or disagrees; the point is we must begin to engage this conversation with a revelation of 1 Corinthians 13 as our starting point. Let us not fear this difficult subject. Let us proceed, understanding that the same Savior who delivered us is here to liberate all who cry out to Him with a repentant heart.

David Vigil is CEO and founder of His life focus is to serve those who have been called of God and see to it that they are free to be exactly what they have been designed to be. His ministry is based out of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. Under the tender of Randy Frazee and Max Lucado, he serves to restore ministers across the globe.

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