CAUGHT! I remember the feelings, emotions, and panic. I had lied yet again and I was caught with my pants down…I really wish that was a metaphor but sadly for my wife it wasn’t this time. Faced with my shame and utterly humiliated I finally began the process of secret revealing. It was forced on me because I wasn’t bold enough to confess. Some of you will be or have been caught. Some of you will or have confessed. Confession wins hands down. Either way, your secret is out. Now what? These suggestions are just that, suggestions. But over the years they have helped me immensely and by God’s grace they will help you as well. The answer to the question of this article is simple. What do I do when my secret has been revealed? You continue to live and believe YOU ARE who God says you are. Here’s how.
1. First of all and hardest of all thank God for the conviction of His Spirit. Your conviction led you to confession or someone else’ conviction led them to you catch you, either way, thank God. He loves you enough to not let you stay in the trappings of your sin. He has something better for you and cares enough about you to rescue you from it. Thank Him. A lot.
2. Surround yourself with Grace-Minded people. There are way too many Christians (including pastors) running around with planks in their eyes, stay away from them and don’t get hit by the planks. The enemy loves to use “well meaning” Christians to do his bidding so be cautious and avoid listening to the words that come flying out of their mouths like daggers. Spend an abundance of time with those who have been shown the most grace because they typically show the most grace in return. And usually they understand Jesus better too.
3. If you’re not married, skip to number 4. If you are married, here we go. Listen, Listen, Listen to your wife and Never Never Never say “I know how you feel.” The burden just lifted from your shoulders and landed on hers. Weep with her. Take all of what she has to say without offering any response that is an excuse or explanation. Remember that respect is given, trust is earned. It will take a long time to earn back trust. You will move past this before she does. Give her patience. As much as needed for as long as it’s needed.
4. Identify yourself “in Christ” and not by your sin. You’re a new creation. How many times have you preached it? Now it’s time to believe it. Search your sermon archive and ask the Holy Spirit to help you believe the messages you’ve taught on repentance, forgiveness, grace, and restoration. Don’t get caught in the lie that you need to identify yourself by your sin. Sin is your activity, not your identity.
The bottom line is this, you are a pastor, remember your calling. I was talking with Gale Haggard, wife of Ted Haggard, about two years after he was caught in sin. I asked her what the greatest thing she learned through their trial was. She said this, “Why is it that as long as a pastor keeps his sin a secret he can continue to minister but as soon as he confesses and asks for forgiveness he is removed from ministry? I think we (the church) have it backwards.” I will never forget that statement. Neither should you. God has called you, sin will slow you down, but not stop or derail you. The answer is simple, continue to live and believe YOU ARE who God says you are.