Out of Exile: A 40-Day Journey for Hurting Pastors

I’ve been thinking about the best way to transfer some of my pastor’s retreat into a blog format. I decided to write a series of brief posts in a 40 Day format, called: Out of Exilea 40 day journey for hurting pastors.
I will look at the losses that all pastors face in ministry, how the losses create a feeling of “exile,” and then how to return from that exile.

Exile is when life throws you a curve and you end up in a place you never thought possible. You feel stuck and fear that you will never get back on track: a washout for God.

Pastors respond to God’s calling thinking they will save the world but often end up on the back side of the desert. I’ll show how this isn’t the worst thing. In many ways, it’s a rite of passage.

I won’t write every day. Maybe 2-3 times a week. The 40 days will actually take a few months, but that shouldn’t be a problem. If you are in exile, it takes a lot longer than 40 days to get out!

Exile is when life throws you a curve and you end up in a place you never thought possible. You feel stuck and fear that you will never get back on track. A wash out for God.

I’ll keep the posts brief. Enough for something to chew on. But not so long that you will be tempted to “read it later” which means, you never will.

I’m hoping you will share these posts with pastors and they will engage in the conversation. The best part of my workshop is the conversations it sparks…the permission it gives to pastors to talk about their exile. I’ll give you new terms to help label experiences and feelings you’ve had but never knew how to talk about.

I’m looking forward to this. Talk to you soon.



9 thoughts on “Out of Exile: A 40-Day Journey for Hurting Pastors

  1. Lisa

    I’m married to the preacher/evangelist. We literally were in the desert going through a series of exiles. We’ve been through the 7 exiles in a condensed, rapid-fire sorta way. We certainly weren’t able to name it in the midst of the crisis, but we are in a position to label it in hind sight now. We have grieved it for sure, but I’m not sure if we have thoroughly dealt with it. We definitely learned from it, grew from it … especially in the areas of intimacy with the Lord, better love & respect in our marriage. The children suffered confusing losses that will leave a permanent mark and I’m not sure they healed properly. I am looking forward to learning how to reframe it with honest 20/20 hindsight. We are definitely on the other side of it, TRASNSFormed. The way we went into the desert was not the way we came out of it. Oh did I mention we moved to WI ;-). I know this is a God thing and a good thing. I want to have learned the lessons well…b/c I really don’t want to repeat the experience. I don’t want to get good at exiles from multiple experiences but if I have to go through it again it wont bring so many feelings of trauma. Looking forward to what you have to share. Lisa

    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      Welcome to Wisconsin! Thanks for joining the journey and already jumping in to share your story. Sharing your story and hearing other’s story is part of the healing process. It tells you that you are not alone and not an oddball. One of the big lies of exile is believing that you ended up there because God is done with you. No, he’s preparing you to reenter the game, better than before.

      1. Robin A. Williams

        Yes, I can relate as a leader and helping professional. I lived in Wisconsin for a number of years and after a number of “curve balls”, I felt that God led me back to an area to open a private practice that specialized in treating addictions and hurting people from a Biblical perspective. In the process I know getting support from other churches and other community leaders was crucial to be successful. With many efforts to meet with others in the faith based community few were willing to take their time to even understand what I was doing, with a few exceptions. This in itself was a major curve and a huge disappointment from those I thought I could count on and those that would confess to be followers of Christ. I attempt to bring prayer into my practice as well with many invitations given, but few that would respond. I understand how much “church leaders” can become busy, but that was the excuse and reason said to me for not lending more support to what was the only faith based outpatient counseling office in town. Yes, similar to what I am reading from others, turned out for me too, very discouraging, however strange that seems to me for what I expect the church to be. But I continue to learn about truly letting go, learning how to forgive as I am a sinner and have shortcomings and how I too have hurt others that I can only look to my Lord for grace and mercy.

      2. F. Remy Diederich Post author

        Good to hear from you Robin. I hope you are doing well in your new practice. In response to your take on local church support, you may have over estimated the referral base that churches provide. The lack of pastoral referrals probably had less to do with pastors not supporting you and more to do with pastors not having the opportunity to refer, or lack of follow through on the part of the person seeking help. I pastor one of the larger churches in town. I don’t counsel that many people to begin with. Of the ones I do see, only a few may express interest in professional help. You were one of three people I referred to. So competition plays a role. And last, many people never follow through on a referral. Over the years, many people have said they will “call me soon” to set up a fifth step for their treatment program. Very few do. As a former small business man, I often overestimated the size of the market interested in my store. I had to close the store due to lack of business. That happens. That doesn’t make your “exile” any easier. But I hope it helps explain the nature of pastoral referrals. I’m sorry it didn’t work here for you. But I trust you have found the right place now.

  2. Lisa

    🙂 Thank you for the welcome and kind words. God indeed said, “…..Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you”(Heb.13:5) and He showed himself faithful in all aspects of those providential words. What does “reenter” look like for us? Not sure …but I look forward to seeing how the Holy Spirit reveals the new chapter in our lives and the lives in others. Appreciate your blog and dedication to the Lord!

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