Churches can be harsh and difficult, but at the same time PREACHERS can be hard-tails, uncompromising, difficult, and harsh also. Pastors aren’t perfect… they make mistakes… including me.
For a few years I’ve been doing a lot (And I do mean a lot) of reflecting about 25 years in ministry. Twenty-one of those years I was a pastor, the first of which was when I was 29 years old… and looking back, well… it seems like I remember more my failures, mistakes, and missteps than anything else. I’m just wired that way I guess. My wife is kind enough to remind me of all the really good things God did, and I do appreciate it giving God the glory. Yet… my shortcomings and mistakes were many, which I tried to learn from and improve on.
ASIDE: In Redemption Ministry I hear about as many pastors who are failing congregations as I do congregations that mistreat their pastors. There are four kinds of ministry situations: 1) A faithful pastor with a loving congregation; 2) A faithful congregation with a dysfunctional minister; 3) A faithful pastor with a dysfunctional congregation; 4) A dysfunctional pastor with a dysfunctional congregation. Sadly, most congregations fall into the last three situations (In my experience).
As a minister who has been in all four situations (Read that carefully), I’d like to make some suggestions about the last three.
First…. If your pastor is messing up, making mistakes and missteps, blowing it, please have ONE or TWO men who love him (And the pastor knows they love him) go and talk with him… patiently and lovingly. Look for ways to help him with his short comings. Give him time to process the things he is not doing well. Find ways to HELP HIM be successful! Redemption works two ways: Pastor with people AND people with their pastor. Don’t let him fail! Many pastors suffer silently with issues and problems that bleed over into what they do at church (Like everyone else). This is a time to minister to the minister.
Second… With situations three and four, truth is… most congregants won’t be “in the know.” There will be small groups that have a desire to get rid of the pastor OR a pastor who is determined to stay no matter what. If you find yourself in either situation, pray…. pray… pray! Ask God to heal all involved. Ask God to intervene. Ask God to change hearts from anger and revenge to love, forgiveness, and restoration. That is all you can do, and nothing better you can do! Maybe also you should prayerfully consider talking to leadership about the above suggested things. Maybe you should prayerfully approach your pastor. But God will guide you on those. You can never go wrong with a desire to heal, restore, or facilitate peace.
Jesus said, “By this all men will KNOW you are my disciples if you have LOVE for one another.” Love is patient… kind… forgiving… encouraging… helpful… gracious… merciful… and full of compassion. Of all people, the CHURCH must exemplify these things. Otherwise we do not have a message the world will hear and receive.
After all we all… pastors AND deacons AND congregations… will answer to God for what we have done in this life toward all people.