My Horrible, Pastoral Understanding of Grace

I’ve had some good things happening to me lately. Let me be clear, I understand that it is all the grace of God. It has been a very humbling experience.

But I’ve had some guilt associated with it. I’ve thought, “I don’t deserve good things to happen to me. I committed adultery. I should be laying in a ditch somewhere. Better, I should be sweeping up after the pigs and eating their food. I don’t deserve anything good from God.

I had a pastor friend tell me a while back, “Ray, I know it’s sinful for me to say this, but I don’t think you deserve anything good to happen to you. I mean, I’m glad you get along with your ex-wife really well, that your kids are doing great, but the sinful part of me feels you should be failing because of your sin. I know that’s wrong.

I said, “I feel that way most days.

Here’s the axiom that creeps up in my mind – because I committed adultery, I don’t deserve success. In fact, I deserve utter failure.

But then, I pray and come to my senses. I know that the grace that I’ve been shown is a gift. I don’t receive “success” because I committed adultery. I wouldn’t even call it success. It’s grace God bestows so I can help other people. To pour myself out in humility. To let my weakness be his strength.

Now for the worst part. When I was a pastor and something good would happen to me, I’d think in my dark soul, “Of course I deserve this! I’m a pastor! I preach, take care of people, listen to complaining, and I’m doing the work of God. Heck yeah, I deserve something good to happen to me.” It wasn’t all the time, but I thought that way more than once.

Now, after my fall, when God extends His grace to me, I see it for what it is – a loving gift. Something I don’t deserve. That’s what it was all along, I just didn’t see it before. I didn’t fully understand grace as a pastor. But after falling into the pit, after having God rescue me from that place, I see His grace better now.

Thank you, Lord, for redeeming me from my sin, from myself, from a terrible understanding of your grace. Thank you for loving me despite my sin. Thank you for your gift of eternal love. Most of all, thank you for sending your Son to stand there, in my place, to love me like I’ve never been loved.

About fallenpastor
I am a former Southern Baptist pastor who was removed from his church for breaking the seventh commandment. I once blogged under the pseudonym Arthur Dimmesdale. I am author of the book, "Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World," from Civitas Press. I have written an essay in a book entitled, "The Practice of Love: Real Stories Of Living Into The Kingdom of God." I have a beautiful wife, Allison, and three wonderful daughters. I am originally from Russellville, Arkansas and am a huge Razorback fan.

3 Responses to My Horrible, Pastoral Understanding of Grace

  1. Steve Martin says:

    Your pastor friend would feel right at home there with the religious men who wanted to stone (kill) the adulterous woman.

    Did (does) he not hear Jesus say, “let the one without sin throw the 1st stone”?

    This is why happen who you have a doctrine of spiritual ascendancy, and adding a little bit to what God has done.

  2. Steve Martin says:

    typing too fast…sorry.

    And self-righteous folks like that (friend, or not), really get my goat.

  3. bsgroves says:

    forgiving oneself is definitely a hard part of this restoration process. Living above/beyond the feelings is no easy task.

    I get it for sure.

    press on…


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