Christianity teaches, among other things, that God can change us and that disciples of Jesus should live different. In keeping with the teachings of the Bible, Christian leaders are held to a high standard, but what should happen when our leaders fail?
We can debate our ideals on this matter, but Pastor and author David Trotter knows what it’s like to follow Jesus, to lead a church, and to then abandon himself to a series of sins that tore apart his church, his family, and eventually himself. He writes about his experiences with powerful, raw honesty in his book Lost and Found: Finding Myself by Getting Lost in an Affair.
I won’t lie to you, this book is difficult to read. It’s hard to watch a Christian make so many destructive decisions. It killed me to watch Trotter’s wife suffer through his neglect and unfaithfulness. I hated to read about Trotter’s indulgence in an affair with his wife’s best friend. I became upset as Trotter became depressed and suicidal, eventually checking himself into a hospital for three days.
This is a book that I can’t say you’ll “enjoy.” However, David has worked hard to sharpen his writing in this self-published book. He presents more details than necessary for the purpose of his story, but the book is important because he raises issues about leaders, churches, sin, and restoration that are essential topics today.
It’s a well-written account that I found hard to put down.
David and his wife Laura are opening up their lives for the benefit of the church, and whatever your first impressions may be of their story, you’ll be a better leader or church member for having read it. I don’t mean they have all of the answers for us. I wouldn’t be surprised if some readers disagree on certain points. However, if we read David’s book we’ll be much better prepared to handle pastoral affairs with greater compassion and understanding.
The subtitle suggests that David “found himself,” but that isn’t really the point of this book. In fact, the subtitle almost turned me off to the book. Trying to find himself was the problem in the first place. He got lost because he was consumed with himself and what he wanted. What he found at the conclusion of this book wasn’t necessarily himself. He really found a core group of reliable friends, his two children, and a wife who simply defies description with her character, strength, and grasp of forgiveness.
While this is David’s story, his wife Laura outshines everyone else in the narrative.
She endured one devastation after another, and yet she was willing to work with David and to eventually take him back (something you’ll know since she wrote the afterword to the book). After taking him back she lost a number of friends who were not willing to forgive him, thereby adding to the tragedy of the story.
I don’t want to minimize David’s pain and suffering, which were severe. However, Laura’s strength to continue working and serving her children, to reconcile with David, and to even edit this book leaves me amazed.
The reconciliation of David and Laura alone makes the book worth reading.
While watching David’s painful downward spiral will alert us to the personal hell that engulfs pastors in the midst of scandals and will help us prayerfully consider ways to help them, the restoration of David and Laura’s marriage shows us that God is able to change lives, to heal, and to restore what is broken.
Whatever you think of this book, David and Laura are worthy of respect for so openly confessing and sharing their story. I can’t imagine willingly reliving such a terrible time for the sake of a book, and that alone makes this book an important source for our discussions about leadership, accountability, expectations, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
You could say that this book proves that the Gospel is true.
If we truly believe this stuff about Jesus, then we have to believe that David and Laura can be reconciled even after he ran away from her, demeaned her, and suffered a breakdown. We need to talk about the expectations we place on pastors, the power and control that pastors demand, and how we are all complicit in such scandals. However, the most important lesson from this book is one of healing and reconciliation.
Besides my qualms with the book’s title, I also noticed that David often mentioned prayer and different points of growth with God, but the details were lacking. Since David personally sent me a review copy and I’m more interested in letting him tell his story than saying “Gotcha”, I asked him to flesh that out in a blog post. His post also raises the important matters related to the ways that pastors can misuse scripture and prayer as part of the “God business.”
I have previously addressed pastors and affairs in the following posts:
Note to authors/readers: I don’t review many books. If you read my blog and think I may be interested, drop me a line. However, I may take a pass on it. If I do review your book, I will try to be a critical reader.