Do you know a pastor who has fallen?
One of the most beautiful, hopeful, and encouraging gospel themes that courses its way through Scripture is the theme of fresh starts and new beginnings. Fresh starts and new beginnings are a hallmark of the rescuing, forgiving, restoring, and transforming power of God’s grace!
- For Moses, a fresh start looked like a burning-bush voice calling him back to Egypt to liberate God’s people, this time by God’s power.
- For David, it meant being confronted by a prophet, confessing the horror of what he had done, and continuing his kingship.
- For Jonah, it meant being vomited upon the seashore and commissioned a second time to take God’s message to Nineveh.
- For Peter, a fresh start happened on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, as the Messiah he betrayed forgave him and sent him once again into his service.
- For Paul, a new beginning blinded him on the road to Damascus, where he received words of forgiveness and commission carried by a somewhat fearful messenger, Ananias.
When have you received a fresh start and new beginning from your Savior?
The gospel of grace does not hold us to our worst moment or curse us by our worst decision. When it comes to pastoral ministry, this same grace means out of the ashes of sin, leaders can rise because the Savior has resurrection power.
What is different about how we look at the sin, weakness, and failure of a leader and the way God looks at the same?
I wonder, in the way we think about leaders and the function of the leadership community, would we have restored any of these biblical characters?
In none of the instances that I cited was the sin denied, hidden, or minimized. In each situation, it looks as though what was done was so grave that there could be no hope for the sinner’s future.
Our tendency in such situations is to think that while God’s forgiveness demonstrates amazing grace, he will nevertheless say, “As far as usefulness in my kingdom, you’re done.” But in those biblical situations, each was restored to a position of spiritual leadership.
In my new book, Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church, I write much more about restoration, as well as accountability, humility, and character. But what I want to ask today here is: Do our leadership communities function with a gospel-driven, restoration mentality?
We should never minimize a leader’s sin, nor should we rush to put a leader back in the saddle who has not yet dealt with central issues in his heart. Indeed, there are some cases in which we never restore a fallen leader to a ministry position.
At the same time, we must never abandon our functional belief in the restorative power of God’s right-here, right-now grace. I know too many fallen pastors who were cast away and are now supporting their families doing 9-5 jobs outside of the church because we didn’t practice the same gospel that we preach.
Could it be true that everybody believes in grace until a pastor needs it? May our hearts be filled with gratitude as we remember that we have all been restored by God’s grace, we are all being restored right now by that same grace, and we all will be finally restored by one who will not quit until his restorative mercies have completely rebuilt us into his image.
May that gratitude of heart shape our response to pastors when sin rears its ugly head.
Paul David Tripp
My prayer is that these principles will protect and bless Christian leaders with a long and healthy ministry life for generations to come. Consider purchasing it for the pastors in your life from our non-profit ministry. We offer free shipping when you buy 3 or more copies.
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1. When have you received a fresh start and new beginning from your Savior?
2. How have you responded poorly when someone needed the same grace that you so eagerly receive from Christ (and want others to show to you)?
3. Have you ever received grace and restoration from another person after you sinned? How did that spur on your confession and repentance?
4. Do you hold your pastor or ministry leader to an impossible standard? How are they the same as everyone else in the body of Christ?