Hello. My name is Tullian Tchividjian. I used to be a pastor. Some would even say a successful pastor. I was leading a large church that had a school and a seminary, writing a book a year, traveling extensively all over the country speaking at conferences and churches and various events. However one wants to define “celebrity pastor”, I was one. And then it all came crashing down.
Two things I had come to believe were secure forever (apart from my relationship to God) were my 21-year marriage and my calling as the senior pastor of the historic Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Both came crumbling down during the spring and early summer of 2015.
First my marriage. Then my position at the church. And with those two losses came a thousand other losses. The loss of close friendships, the loss of financial stability, the loss of purpose, the loss of confidence in God’s goodness, the loss of hope, the loss of joy, the loss of opportunity, the loss of life as I knew it. Life went from feeling like a fairy tale to feeling like a violent tragedy.
But as shocking and painful as all these losses were, my instinctive response shocked me even more: the rage, the blame-shifting, the thirst for revenge, the bitter arrogance, the self-justified resentment, the dark self-righteousness, the control-hungry manipulation, the deluded rationalization, the deep selfishness, the perverted sense of entitlement. Maybe these disgusting things which flowed from my depths with such natural ease shouldn’t have shocked me. After all, I was well known for talking about my own messed-upness, talking openly about my sin and selfishness, my faults and fears, my pride and pains.
I never pretended to have it all together. In fact, one of the reasons people listened to my sermons and read my books and came out to hear me speak when I was traveling is because I was honest about my brokenness and the amazing grace of God that covers us at our worst. I was known for saying that God loves bad people because bad people are all that there are. So I knew I was bad. I just didn’t know I was THAT bad.
The truth is, though, that we are very good lawyers when it comes to our own mistakes, but very good judges when it comes to the mistakes of others. As one of my counselors told me early on, circumstances don’t create the condition of the heart. Rather, circumstances reveal the condition of the heart. And what was revealed to me about my heart in the fiery hotness of dire circumstances was scary and destructive. This disgusting truth about myself (and the desperate aloneness that I felt because of it) made me want to commit suicide. In my darkest moment (after researching for two hours the best way to kill myself), I wrote this:
Words cannot express the pain I feel for the hurt I’ve caused. It has become too much to bear. Based on what I’ve done and the pain I’ve caused, I have concluded that it is safer for all those I love that I just disappear.
Life without hope is death.
At the end, I tried. I really, really tried. God knows that my apologies and my expressions of love were real. So real. But what does that matter when the people you want so bad to believe you, don’t? I understand why they didn’t. Given my recent track record, why would they? So when it became clear that those I love most wanted nothing to do with me, the choice I needed to make became clear.
Initially, I got angry and defensive when I was told that I’m a monster, evil, disgustingly dangerous, etc. But it has sunk in and I finally believe it. I am all those things. Lord have mercy.
One final word to the church: when people screw up bad, try to help them. Do your best to sacrifice anything and everything to help them. More than likely, they screwed up bad because they need help. Don’t turn your back on them. Pursue them. Something isn’t right with them and they need help. Even if they have hurt you bad, do everything you can to help them.
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
How did I get to this point of total desperation? How did I arrive at that dark place where I actually wanted to kill myself?
What I see now that I couldn’t see then is that this explosion had been building for a few years. The shift from locating my identity in the message of the Gospel to locating my identity in my success as a messenger of the Gospel was slow and subtle. It came on like the slow creep of the tide rather than a sudden tidal wave. I painfully learned that the more you anchor your identity and sense of worth in something or someone smaller than God, the more pain you will experience when you lose it all.
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SOURCE: Expastors – Tullian Tchividjian