I first want to give props to my friend Josh Mauney who pastors TurningPoint Church in Lexington, KY for posting a blog similar to this one awhile back. Most pastors feel the same in certain situations and difficulties that come their way, however, many don’t have the freedom or boldness to talk to anyone or post about it openly.
My wife Toni and I have been in ministry for 14 years now and lead an amazing church at Oasis on the Gulf Coast. We launched the church 6 1/2 years ago and are amazed by all that God has done and is doing in this ministry. However, there are struggles. I am going to quote and even copy some of what my friend Josh posted on his blog because it captures the essence of what I wanted to share today. Thanks Josh for letting me quote you and use some of your post! You can check out Josh’s blog page here. So here we go………………………..
Ministry is hard. The hardest thing to do in ministry is to pour into people’s lives, introduce them to the friends that they have, the faith that they hold, and the freedom they experience, and then **poof**…like you never meant a thing…they are gone!
Josh quotes the following statement that someone who had been in ministry for many years told him one time:
“You aren’t a human anymore when you become a pastor. You are thing. A thing that is there to baptize them, bless them, pray for them, and serve them, but if you cross them, fail them, or fall short for them they will leave you to go find another thing. No one goes to the doctor because they care how the doctor feels. They go to the doctor to get better…and once they are they will have no use for the doctor.”
With that, I feel the sentiment of this post. I think it is many times overlooked that I am a man and have feelings just like you. Maybe you understand that, maybe you don’t. I hope you do. We left a very comfortable life in central Alabama where the salary was big and the success was off the charts to plant a life-giving church on the Gulf Coast. Thousands have come through the doors of Oasis. 16,000 people in 6 1/2 years to be exact! THAT’S A CRAZY NUMBER!!!! Yes, that is documented through systems! Yes, we are blessed to be a church with many people from all different walks and types, but there are A LOT MORE THAT have NOT STAYED than those who have! So let me just talk to you whether you are a member of Oasis now or ever have been a part of Oasis.
Does it hurt when people leave the church? Absolutely! Does it hurt worse with some than others? Absolutely! However, most of it has to do with THE WAY you do it.
I am not saying that you should always stay at one church, my church, or that I should always be your pastor. What I am saying is that there is a right way and wrong way to move on.
Wrong Way: (From my perspective, especially to other pastors)
1) Just disappear: You didn’t know you had failed them or fallen short, but they just quit you. And since you are just some emotionless thing, you don’t deserve to know!
2) Email: Really? Do I really need to explain how awful that is? I was there when your baby was born, or your wedding, or I led you to the Lord, and that meant so much that you wanted to send me an email?
3) Just tell about 10 other people: Eventually it will get back to me, and you knew that. If anyone in the world did that to you it would devastate you, but I’m a pastor so we probably just pray all day and read our Bibles, and things like that don’t make us cry and want to quit.
4) Facebook/Text/Or any other social media: I have received some of the most hateful messages of my life via social media. So much so that I don’t even read it or go on it anymore. I want to be able to connect with friends and family, but I have had to stop getting on there because people use it just to rip you apart. (See my previous post that I put out today)
5) Call or Text: I get that sometimes situations might prevent you from sitting down face to face, but use this rule of thumb, If I took the time to sit down face to face with you to help you out, you should at least do me the same if you are going to go.
The fact that I am even writing to say it hurts is sort of taboo in my field. We as pastors are supposed to be bigger than these kinds of things… You know…turn the other cheek, forgive just as we have been forgiven, don’t return insult with insult but insult with blessing.
I know all of that, but the longer I am in this, the more I realize why only 10% of guys ever finish in ministry and why 80% of pastors say they are lonely and don’t have 1 good friend. NOT 1!
We aren’t a thing. We aren’t a service to be provided or a healer of wound. Nor are we a savior or anything else like that.
We are men. Real men. Who have families, and fears and short comings, and insecurities, and pain deeper than the people we are trying to pull out of pain.
Publicly, we smile and act like nothing is wrong, but inside, we are hurting and lonely. Week after week we stand in crowded rooms as the loneliest person in it. We wonder how much longer it will take until you decide you are done with us, and then we will smile as you check in on Facebook at other churches, or we pass you in the grocery store or see you out around town, and in case you were wondering, we aren’t thinking anything other than, ”Why would they just leave me like that and never say a word?” or “They could have left without being so hateful?”
So it hurts. I might be the first pastor to say it. I don’t know that I have ever heard many others acknowledge it. We talk about it with each other…pastor to pastor, but we never say anything to you. It hurts and quite honestly, I think we deserve better. It’s a shame that the devil doesn’t have to work to make pastors quit, when its easier and more effective to use the Christians.
I don’t know that this post would ever change anything, but my prayer is that whoever your pastor is, you would remember that he’s a Christian first, he’s probably a husband and a daddy, and he is trying. He is giving his whole life to try and impact yours. He doesn’t need your life long allegiance, worship or praise, he just needs you to treat him as something more than a thing. I get that seasons change and needs change and feelings get hurt. Trust me I get it! But just remember, we got into this to serve.
If you are a pastor reading this, keep your head up.
If you are reading this and you left the wrong way, I encourage you to go make it right.
I hope this post didn’t offend…its just the most honest post I know how to write.