A Pastor's Dirty Little Secret
In the past 14 years I've rubbed shoulders with more ministers
than I can remember. I've talked with ministers of large
churches, small churches, and every size in between. I've hung
out with black ministers, Hispanic ministers, Episcopal
ministers, Republican ministers, and yes, to my shame, even
ministers who are Yankee fans. You name 'em, I've probably
picked up their lunch tab.
When our conversations move past square footage and per capita
giving and other things that keep God up at night, we slowly let
our guard down and begin to talk from the heart. Inevitably,
that's when a well guarded secret is shared. For most ministers,
it's a secret they've never shared with their colleagues, their
churches, and sometimes even their spouses. I know I can count
on one hand the people I've shared it with. Until now.
Regardless of how betrayed my fellow colleagues in the trenches
might feel by me spilling the beans...I can't hold it in any
longer. I'm coming clean.
Here it is: sometimes we wish we could quit.
There, I said it. That felt pretty good. Ministers, say it with
me, "Q-U-I-T. Adios. See ya. Hasta la vista. Outta here."
I think you get my drift.
You want to know what surprises me? Every time I hear someone
tell me they're firing up a resume, I am always struck by how
similar the reasons are for why they are taking their hand off
Many ministers say they're tempted to throw in the towel or move
because of people. Problem people to be exact. I remember the
first church I served. After a few months I was approached by a
man who felt called by God to be my accountability
partner...without asking me. He offered to take me out to eat
one day, so I accepted. Little was I prepared for what was about
to happen. Setting down his sandwich he said, "Brian, there are
a number of things you are doing wrong, but for the sake of time
I've kept my list to 10." I made the mistake of saying, "Start
with number one." Two and a half hours later I left with two
things--30% less self-esteem and a really good case for why
first cousins should never marry.
Like most ministers, I've regularly felt the sting of difficult
people. Looking back on some of these situations I've come to
one conclusion: in every congregation there are always 3 or 4
blessed souls that are there because no other organization in
town will put up with them. Yes, I agree that it's hard to
overestimate the damage some ministers have done to churches. I
own that. I know I've caused my share of pain. But it's also
healthy to acknowledge that many of God's servants walk with a
limp because no-one in their congregation had the guts to stand
up to a known troublemaker and protect their leader. It's at
those times it becomes easy to question whether the price is too
high, at least for me.
Those Highly Marketable Bible-College Degrees
A while ago I stumbled upon one of those well-known job search
web sites. Supposedly it is the largest in the world...matching
thousands of employers with employees everyday. I was curious so
I plugged in my education, experience, and the name of the
mildly prestigious divinity school from which I graduated. Most
ministers will understand my elation at clicking the button and
reading a report that pointed me to a long, distinguished career
at my local Krispy Kr