Every pastor sins. Not every sin a pastor commits has to be proclaimed from the pulpit. We're called to let the Light of the gospel shine, not to use the platform as a confessional or personal therapy session. Pastors in the pulpit are to be translucent (letting the light through) while being appropriately transparent (revealing their inner life). So when a pastor struggles with addictive behavior, where should that be revealed? We asked Jerry Law, a pastoral counselor who himself is in recovery from addiction, how transparent a pastor can be.
Dave opened his eyes and was immediately hit with that sinking feeling in the gut. He was lying in his own bed and the lights were on, but he had absolutely no recollection of how he got there or what time it was. The clock said 3:00, but was that a.m. or p.m.?
He glanced at the window, and it was dark outside. It must be a.m. Where was his family? The last thing he remembered was having dinner with them. What happened to the last nine hours?
Dear God, I've had another blackout and this time it must have been bad, he thought.
Over the next several hours, Dave's secret world unraveled. Pastor of a respected church, Dave was known to drink only socially and in moderate amounts. He had done a masterful job of hiding his secret drinking. Over the years he had taken to drinking, alone, until he felt the comforting buzz. He had managed this secret for years. No one suspected he was addicted. Friends, family, congregation, even his wife, had all been duped.
The awful truth emerged in the form of an alcohol blackout. After his bizarre behavior, his wife had taken the kids and spent the night in a nearby hotel. The image he had so elaborately constructed and protected collapsed in a heap due to that "one last drink" he had taken in secret that was supposed to carry him through the evening.
In three days Dave would have to stand in the pulpit and preach. How could he do so while experiencing the cascade ...