Bryan McKnight: True Confessions of a Pastor
By William Wiegman
The 700 Club
Original Air Date: January 12, 2011
"As a young pastor, I had a beautiful wife, incredible children and I had a wonderful church. On the surface everything seemed to be perfect, but what people didn’t know is what was going on behind closed doors."
Bryan McKnight was only 22 when he became the senior pastor of Canaan Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
"It was very intimidating being young, but it was a good church and we had a vibrant ministry there," Bryan tells The 700 Club.
With his career off to a good start, this should have been a happy time for him, his wife Teresa and their two children. But the reality was that his marriage was slowly falling apart.
"We argued all the time. If you walked by our house in any given evening, you may hear screaming and fighting. Most of our arguing was because of the pressures of life. She always felt like I gave more time to other people in the church than to her."
One night, while they were arguing, she confessed that she had an affair several years before.
"I realized that in our marriage everything pointed back to that moment, that hidden sin, that bondage that was on her life that poured over into both of our lives."
Despite their problems, Bryan and Teresa were determined not to become another divorce statistic. But as the church started demanding even more of his time, once again Bryan had trouble finding balance.
"The church was growing faster than ever before. We started building a new building, hired a new staff, and a lot of different dynamics came in that created even more stress in our marriage than I was prepared to deal with as a young father and a young husband."
In desperation, Bryan resigned as pastor of Canaan Baptist and made plans to re-locate his family to a church in Denver. He recalls, "I thought that making a move geographically and having all of our surroundings change would not only benefit my life but our marriage."
But a few days before their big move, Bryan and Teresa had a bitter fight.
"I looked at her right in the eyes and told her I wanted a divorce. I didn’t care what my kids would go through. I didn’t care what she would go through. I didn’t want anything else but out of that marriage. Thirteen years and I had more than I coudl take"
After several months of separation, they divorced. Teresa and the kids went to live with her family in Kentucky. Bryan remained in Arkansas, overwhelmed with shame. He did stay in close contact with his children
"I felt like such a failure. I failed as a husband, a father. I failed as a pastor. I failed in every area of my life and I was lost. I felt like God could never use me again."
His lifestyle changed dramatically. He moved into a trailer with a woman he had known for only a few months. Then, one afternoon, he had a revelation.
"All of a sudden the Holy Spirit came down on me and I realized how far I was from God. I dropped my cigarette in the dirt and I dropped my beer. I told my girlfriend we have got to turn this around. She immediately felt that same presence of the Holy Spirit that I did. We got down on our knees and prayed and asked God to forgive us."
In the weeks that followed, Bryan and Dana got married and started attending church. He got a job at a uniform company and, in 2002, they had a son named Brandon.
"Then one day, out of the blue, I walked into my office only to find out that I lost my job that day. So any stability that I had in my life was gone again."
Almost immediately, Bryan sank into a deep depression.
"It wasn’t just the stress of not being able to pay the bills. It was just the lack of worth. I just didn’t feel like I was worth anything to anybody."
Then a pastor from his past invited him to a men’s bible study. During the class, he talked openly about his struggle for the first time. The other men prayed for Bryan, reached into their pockets and gave him all the money they had.
"These men loved me at the most broken time in my life, and the Holy Spirit said, 'If these guys can love you where you are now, how much more can God love you?' And the light went on."
One year later, Bryan moved his family to Nashville where he worked for a Christian radio station. But it wasn’t long before his friends and wife encouraged him to go back to being a pastor.
"At that point, I began to consider it for the first time since I left the ministry that maybe God did want to use me in that place again."
In October 2008, he established The Summit Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Today, that church is expanding and his passion for the ministry is stronger than ever.
"Through a long, hard road, I discovered that God’s forgiveness is far-reaching and unconditional. I also discovered that my value was never what I became by myself, but it was what I became in Jesus.
"Ten years later, I sitll have guilt for my children who had to live through a broken home. But today, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’ve got a beautiful wife. We have a wonderful son from this marriage and somehow we’ve figured out how to live life to the fullest. God is a God who does not keep a list of your sins and He’s got a better tomorrow for you."
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