Alcohol Costs Pastor His Wife And Church

Todd, a young, married pastor in a small town in Indiana, remembers the moment his drinking ruined his life. “It was Christmas 2002. I tried to get up and preach drunk. It was a fairly large church and I was publicly humiliated. Everything changed that night. I was fired the next day and I quickly went into a spiral of drinking.”

Todd grew up the son of a pastor and a school principal. He went to Azusa Pacific University and then seminary before marrying and moving to Indiana to pastor his church. “I started drinking a little in seminary,” he said. “I didn’t have any background with alcohol before that really. Drinking became more than just a fun thing to do. It became an obsession.”

Todd managed his drinking for a few years before the Christmas service. “I was relatively good at hiding my dependence until that point—until it was on the front page of the newspaper the next day. It just shattered me and everything I had been working for. Then I spent the next six months in the middle of winter in Indiana, which was horrible. My wife moved out and we eventually divorced. I had to come back to California or I was going to hurt myself.”

Todd took a few jobs, working at a YMCA and another church. “I started going through ups and downs, valleys and peaks,” he said. “I’d make a good life and then I’d lose it in a matter of days because I chose alcohol over anything meaningful, including the Lord. There were so many times in my life where I should’ve gone to jail, should’ve been dead—it was a miracle. It would just amaze me that God still cared about me and he loved me in spite of the decisions I’ve made. But I just could not grasp any successful feelings because I didn’t feel like I deserved it.”

A few years ago, Todd said he came to a crossroads. “I got to a point where I knew I needed to make a decision: whether I was going to end my own life or I was going to try to make something of myself.” Todd chose the Mission. “The Lord brought me here. I needed to find the Lord in my life and this is definitely where I found him. It’s so great to be understood and to be heard. That’s what the Rescue Mission does best—they hear you.”

Todd is waiting to see what God will call him to do next. “I went into ministry because I wanted to help people,” Todd said. “I’ve started to realize that maybe my calling is to help people like me. I really feel like God has forgiven me of the idea that I need to prove something to him, that I have to be something in order for him to love me. I feel very at peace today.”