A Youth Pastor Shares His Story About How Sexual Sin Ruined His Life, Family and Ministry
“We need to talk.”
These were the four most frightening words anyone could say to me. The questions would fly through my mind: “What did they know?” “Did one of the girls tell?” “Were they suspicious?”
I never wanted to wait to have “the talk”. The guilt and anxiety were so overwhelming that I was even afraid when the phone would ring!
“I had it all.”
These were the four words that described me. In the world of Youth Pastors, I was recognized as one of the best! The numeric size of our Youth Group compared to the size of our congregation was disproportionate – over 100 regularly attending high school students in a church with a membership of only 400. Our “program” was comprehensive: Sunday activities, outreach, discipleship, prayer and praise nights, summer and winter camps, Mexico missions trips, ministries with the physically and mentally disabled, etc. I was a paid football coach with keys to the campus. I was a regular speaker at large camps and youth events. My salary was $40,000/year in 1993.
I forfeited all of this when it was disclosed that I had had numerous instances of sexual misconduct with over a dozen high school and college aged girls and I was asked to resign.
“I can handle it.”
These are the four most dangerous words that any Christian can ever say.
-Sitting in the jacuzzi.
-Counseling in my office behind closed doors.
-Giving students rides home alone.
-Late hour preparation for ministry with student leaders and interns.
These are just some of the examples of both poor judgment on my part and also of the manipulative scheming that I did to feed my flesh. This, combined with my focus on spiritual gifts rather than on spirituality, my lack of any type of accountability network, and my ignorance about the depth of my depravity was the sure formula for my failure.
“Takes two to tango.”
These four words make up a most dangerous rationalization regarding the sexual sins of pastors or youth leaders and their students:
-No matter who initiates the contact.
-No matter how mutual the feelings seem to be.
-No matter how “mature” the student seems to be.
-No matter if the student is not “innocent.”
The leader is always the perpetrator and the student is always the victim. If the victim is underage, the definition of the action is “child molestation.”
I am still paying the price for my sin in terms of consequences here on earth. I’ve lost my wife through divorce. I only see my precious five-year-old son on weekends. I’ve lost my career, my home, my friends, my colleagues. I have lost it all. The old me, good and bad, is dead and gone. Mercifully, there has been minimal legal action taken against me. If my sin were exposed today, I would be sent to prison for at least eight years.
“There is help available.”
These are the four most useless words if you do not make the choice of voluntarily seeking help immediately!
Your sin will not “go away” if you have already “acted out”. This is a sin that will always “find you out” – it is simply a matter of time. It will continually eat at your victims until they are so dysfunctional, they explode in anger, frustration or hopelessness.
It is better to resign your position voluntarily than to be forced to leave your job as you’re being handcuffed by authorities. I personally went to a six month live-in counseling program to overcome this sin. It is better to go away from your family for counseling for six months than to be away from your family because of incarceration for eight years, and then forever to be an ex-con.
Remember, secrecy gives addiction its power. Bringing the truth to light breaks the power of sin. When you are bound up in shame, you are convinced that if anyone knows the real you they will reject you. To be sure, our experience shows that rejection is a danger to be weighed carefully when deciding who you can trust with your secrets. You must find someone and break the power of secrecy.
Oh yeah, and if you think you can handle this sexual addiction by just meeting with a few godly Christians for accountability, you’re wrong. The power of this sin is greater than we would ever like to admit. I tried the Christian accountability approach and restoration process beforeI moved to another state and church only to perpetrate and abuse again.
I was seriously sick and needed serious help. No longer could I hide behind my “gifts, charisma and natural abilities.”
“I must get help.”
These are the first four words on your way to freedom and peace. You must get professional help from groups that focus on sexual issues. Your “therapy” cannot consist of just well-meaning, godly men and women. Your counselors must be trained professionals – you have crossed the line!
“Blessed is the man.”
These four words describe the future and the hope that the Lord has brought to my life. As I am delighting in the Lord, He is restoring my life and mind. God continues to teach me about His character and about myself through counseling. He has given me a completely new career, not the one for which I was originally called, but a gracious “plan B.”
The Lord has given me this window of opportunity to share His mercy with you, but you must now act on this knowledge! For further help, contact:
Pure Life Ministries P.O. Box 410 Dry Ridge, KY 41035 606.824.4444
Dr. Heather Mechanic 960 West San Marcos Blvd. San Marcos, CA 92069 760.471.8785
Shalom Family Clinical Services 8871 Kareneos Way San Diego, CA 92126 Attn: Rod Sheer