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Being restored to ministry after sin (even big sin) is possible, but it may not look like you expect. Valuable advice for you whether you are trying to help someone caught in sin, or hoping to be restored yourself.
The opportunity to sin is everywhere. Sadly, even people who love the Lord, who are serving Him, can be caught in it. Whether that is you or someone you care about, the first thing I want to say to you is that there is hope.
The second thing I want to say to you is that while your future serving the Lord is not over, it should not be your primary concern. This post is the second in a series. The first post in the series digs in to how to work through coming to a place of true repentance and how to show that to those around you. Proving repentance is a long road, and being restored to ministry comes at the end of that road, not the beginning, especially if you were/are in a position of leadership.
When a leader fails
Speaking of leadership, it’s time to change your perspective of what that looks like. After a public failing, it is unlikely that if you do return to leadership that it will look the same as it did before. At least for some time. And when I say ‘some time’ I’m thinking years not months.
If that sounds crushing to you, remember that this period of restoration is for your benefit.
It’s a time for God to be creating in you, building and readying you for the great future He has in store. Trust me, you do not want to rush it…and it’s worth your patience. Lean in to the process instead of bucking against it.
As you seek to be restored, there are some things to keep in mind that can be helpful.
First, and most importantly, never forget that your days of serving God are not over. Read that again. You are not through, finished, or kaput. God has far more for you to do, if you are willing.
Accept the fact that it may look different than you’d imagined. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. Remember that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and He can see infinitely more than we can. Trust that.
Restoration begins with you getting right with God, but it doesn’t stop there.
Damaged relationships need to be dealt with, and that often takes far more time than we expect. I have seen people think that because they felt right with God, they should be automatically restored to a position they had previously held, or that other people should allow relationships to go back to how they were because, “I’ve been forgiven by God.”
But it’s not just about you and God. Your actions affected other people, and you need to make things right with them too.
Restoration is a process, and it’s not one that you can complete on your own.
The real truth of the matter is that lasting restoration will not happen without humility. You need to submit to the leadership in your life. You also need to be seeking counsel from mature believers.
Now, let me pause here to say that I’ve seen folks do lip service to that and try to fake their way through this process. Go ahead and guess if lasting restoration occurred for them? (Hint: It didn’t).
Asking for counsel is not the sign of real humility. Following that counsel is.
The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. -Proverbs 12:15
Arrogance leads to nothing but strife, but wisdom is gained by those who take advice. -Proverbs 13:10
Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. -Proverbs 19:10
Find small ways to serve
As you start to seek opportunities to serve, look for small ways. Maybe you were an up front person. Consider looking for places you could step in behind the scenes. Your knowledge, gifts, and experience can still be useful in lots of ways. Maybe you’re used to teaching groups of hundreds. Try stepping in to lead a small group. You can also be a resource for those stepping up to fill the hole left by you stepping down.
Your future ministry may look a lot different than what you thought it would be. It’s ok to grieve what you’ve lost, but I can’t say enough that if you trust God and let him, he has a greater purpose for you than you can imagine!
Part of You
Your sin does not define you, but it is a part of forming who you are.
God may never call you to write a book or preach a message about your sin story. But I guarantee He will give you opportunities to reach someone because of it. Maybe you’ll never tell your story, but you’ll have wisdom to share with someone else, or words of encouragement that only you can speak.
Keep your eyes open and ask Him to give you discernment…and courage.
Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little. -Jesus
Cling to Jesus’ words that as someone who has been forgiven much, you are someone who can love much. (Luke 7:47). That is something to revel in.