Beginning Again


The call to love and serve the Lord is still present in those of us who crossed lines. Those called of God to serve Him in His Church, will say like Paul, “woe is me if I preach not the gospel of Christ.” For the genuinely converted, this call to serve God and His Church does not vanish into thin air. However, how do we then return and start again?

Be sure you have recovered.

This takes time and effort; it does not happen as a matter of time passing. Recovery is deliberate, not half-hearted, and it requires considerable courage. It can be a very humbling experience. Some are shocked that a Christian leader could stumble, which indicates their immaturity, having little life experience. Toleration for them is required.

Be sure you have regained your emotional and spiritual balance.

We are likely looking at a number of years here. Indeed, you will never completely get over it. I have not; I carry my failures with me every day of my life. (Is it my thorn in the flesh?)

Perhaps even worse, there are those who actually relish reminding me of what a jerk I have been. (Is this the devil whispering in the ear? He is the accuser of the brethren, you know.)

It has come to my attention that I have harbored ill will toward those who shunned and rejected me during my crisis. Yes, the experience has nourished bitterness in me, even anger at times, towards those who were not able to reach out to me or who even made things worse. This is on me and constitutes an area in my inner being that I must deal with in a Godly and holy manner.

Do not avoid others who know of your failure.

What courage it takes to be in communication with those who know what happened to you, and even more so with those who were emotionally and/or spiritually damaged by your behavior. It may be very slow in coming.

You must even be able to face those who are rather pleased that you made a mess out of your life. And you will be surprised to find that these folks are out there and not only among the non-Christians. Some of those whom you counted as brothers and sisters in Christ will actually rejoice at your failure and adopt the attitude, “Well I could have told you so.”

At some point we will stop running away and face reality.

Ideas on how to help those who do not know what to do or say.

After any misfortune, we often experience how difficult it is for others to know what to say to us. “I am sorry” is about as good as most of us can do. And that is often enough.

However, there are those who will want to stand with you, even though they are troubled at what happened. You can help by direct communication and breaking the ice with a simple, non-blaming, confession or statement of culpability. “Thanks for hanging with me,” is a good starter statement.

Let the other person talk and, without becoming defensive, allow them to express their feelings. Bottled up emotions are painful and prevent fellowship. If you can do so, and it takes some significant recovery, let a person say what they will and without the need to defend, excuse, or explain. Confession works in many different ways, and it is good for us to do and to hear it. 

Guard yourself from making the same mistakes again.

There will more on this in the next chapter, but we must admit to ourselves that we are vulnerable to making the very same mistakes again. Patterns of behavior are learned when we are young and usually stick with us. Even if we have an insight into our own behavior, it may not be enough to avoid going that way again. The word is accountability, especially when you realize the flesh is weak, and having a relationship with someone where there is genuine accountability is a rare thing. I must warn that care must be exercised here, since it is not uncommon for those in whom we confide to later betray us.

Forgive those who have rejected you.

As followers of Jesus we are called to forgive those who despitefully use and abuse us. We may, in our pain and suffering, think that we are the ones to be sought after and confession made to. This cannot be presumed, however, and it may never take place, but it is our responsibility to fulfill the law of Christ to love one another. A large part of this is to forgive those who have hurt us. Jesus took it to the point, as you well know, to admonish that we love our enemies, not oppose them, or even just tolerate them.

Don’t go where you are not wanted.

Look for a spiritual community to be part of and to which you can be accountable, one that is Christ-centered and Bible-believing. (You might be surprised what you will find.) However, avoid going to gatherings or places where you are not wanted or where your presence may cause difficulty.

I have known pastors who served congregations for many years with blood, sweat, and tears, and desired to continue the relationships therein. While continuing relationships may exist, it may not be the responsible thing to do to intrude yourself in a situation where you are not wanted. Indeed, there will be situations where you are not wanted, and you will know when these arise. It is best to let things be, though it may be excruciatingly painful. 

Start small, and in the next chapter I will go into this in greater detail.

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