On December 2016 Bob Caldwell resigned from his position as Senior Pastor at Calvary Chapel Boise due to an affair he was involved in. Caldwell stepped away from the public eye 9 months before his resignation in hopes of handling his affair in secret. The truth was revealed 2 weeks before his resignation. When the church announced the affair and resignation a letter was read to the Boise congregation it included a statement of confession from Caldwell himself. Caldwell apologized for his actions as well as asked for those impacted to heal and move forward as a family. They also announced that Caldwell will not be doing ministry at Calvary from that day forward. You can hear the full message here (https://www.ccboise.org/resources/audio/sunday-morning/message-letter-our-church-family)
With the announcement comes a lot of heartache. Caldwell is beloved and many emotions come to the surface after the announcement of his personal life issues. Caldwell’s exposure in the public eye amplified after Saed Abedini was imprisoned in Iran, leaving his family in Boise. As members of Calvary, the church ministered to Naghmeh (Abedini) Panahi and her two children during Saed’s absence.
When we hear of a pastor that has had personal life issues causing them to resign there are many harsh reactions. Judgment pours out over the pastor and criticism runs rampant. Which I find to be very unfounded. People put a lot of pressure on our leaders, especially pastors, politicians, and celebrities. Society looks at these people as idols – they are the goal for what we are striving to be, but why? Why is it that we put so much pressure on our leaders to be inhuman. Celebrities can’t fluctuate 10 pounds without being smeared all over social media. Pastor’s can’t have “sin” issues because it makes them hypocritical.
I understand that pastors are called to live a life of example for the rest of us. So why is it that they have to resign when they have an issue with something that most Americans struggle with? Wouldn’t it be a fabulous example of how to move through the pain and heal without being thrown out? Shouldn’t they get a chance to exemplify what it means to work through an issue without having to leave their ministry? The Bible does preach a consistent message of love and being “saved by grace”. Maybe some of the shame that is perpetuated through the church stems from the fact that if a pastor “falls” they get the boot. If we are leading by example, that scenario speaks loud and clear to church members that even though they preach a “saved by grace” message there is “imminent rejection”.
Of course, there are some pastors that choose to step down and retreat from the public eye after a personal crisis. I would love to see our society embrace our broken leaders in all spheres of influence with acceptance and love to heal the wounds. Many leaders crack under the pressure to remain perfect for their community which opens the doors for unpopular decisions that call into question.