Church ministers face many temptations. Some fall victim to them. Many of those temptations remain secret and hidden. Many church ministers’ misdemeanours are swept under the carpet and buried. The most unchristian behaviour can be completely overlooked and ignored. Many aspects of sexual impropriety end up being dealt with internally.
There are two types however that seem to be unforgivable.
Stories of church ministers who have had affairs are commonplace. If a church minister has an illicit affair with a parishioner, church congregations are notorious for speculating over the lurid details and perhaps this says more about those spreading rumours. No consideration is giving as to what pressures may have led that church minister towards someone else. He is automatically the guilty party and no real understanding is shown. Often, the minister will end up losing his job.
The second types of temptation are financial misconduct. Sometimes, with the low level of stipend and financial pressure the temptation proves too great. Faced with increasing debt due to Sandra’s demands to live beyond our budget, I succumbed to this temptation. I’m deeply ashamed of what I did and the church was more than adequately reimbursed. I still don’t know why I did it. This action was something I did and then blocked out from my memory. In a way, it was just another item to block out in order to survive daily. Hindsight is a wonderful gift and I believe that my over claiming of personal expenses was some form on subconscious attempt to cry out for help. The only problem was that no one heard or recognised those cries. The churches own financial controls which should have identified the erroneous expenditure was pitiable and I still had no way of unburdening myself of the abuse I was experiencing.
Although by now, I was in a fragile state of mind, I fully acknowledge that these actions were wrong. I have accepted responsibility for them and sought to make restitution.
Sadly, I know I wasn’t the first church minister to fall this way and I won’t be the last.