Restoration in a Transformational Community 1:
Restoring those Who Crash and Burn
It’s tough to talk about the tragic. A formerly well respected pastor, loved son, husband and father dies by his own hand. This came after a year of sad revelations. Shock waves raced through the faith community and unfortunately confirmed the belief system of the non-believer who considers Christianity all hucksterism anyway. What makes me wonder is not that it happened—I have seen it before during my lifespan—but about the rest of the story not being told. And I am not talking about the dirt whispered about this man in the news reports.
What I wonder is what was being done by those who rightly stepped him back from ministry to restore him in his walk with Jesus. I wonder if they knew how to do what they needed to do and at what depth. The need to know this is not mere idle speculation. We are losing too many Christian leaders in the battle. Men and women who, like Tryphena and Tryphosa, have worked hard for the gospel. And besides them, many believers, who live under the radar, are being left to stew in their own damaging sin choices, almost invisible to our eyes.
Our challenge is to live as God’s Holy Church. Being the church includes restoring anyone we see caught in a sin. So what do you have in your toolbox that indicated you are prepared to battle for the soul and even the very life of people with whom you share a common Savior?
Not to say this pastor was a willing participant in his restoration process. Maybe he was so ashamed and out of control he resisted help from those who loved him. Maybe they did their all they knew how and walked beside him the best they could. Certainly his opting for suicide was not of their making. It was a sloth choice—the conclusion of a man who was unwilling to take responsibility for himself except to determine his family and friends would be better off without him. This is why sloth is included as one of the seven deadly sins.
This is an invitation to learn something that someday you will need to know. You may need it today. Or last week, for that matter. I understand that it is hard to learn this by reading alone. Most of us need to see it done to understand what the defiant, the broken, the addicted, the runaway, the unrepentant, or the out-of-control person of our family needs for us to do and say in such moments. Some of what I share will only make sense when you are actually walking someone through restoration.