Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pastors Are People Too

Perry Noble, Sr. Pastor of Newspring Church, shared this on his blog. I normally don't post other blogs in entirety but this one demands it. Make sure you check out Perry's blog sometime it is inspiring to say the least. I can so relate to this as I can relate somewhat to what happened to this pastor.
My good friend, Clayton King, who is the teaching pastor here at NewSping (and is now blogging) shared this when he spoke two
Sunday’s ago–it is one of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever read and it
serves as a warning to pastors–and an eye opener to the churches they serve. I
will have to admit that I am incredibly blessed to pastor this church…but many
are not as fortunate to be a part of a church that takes care of the leaders who
serve Christ there…here is an example…

One of my great joys over the past 20 years as an itinerant preacher
has been the opportunity to meet pastors. These men are my heroes. I have grown
to love and respect not only what they do, but the ability God gives them to do
it year after year for His glory. And it does not matter if they are pastors of
mega-churches or small rural congregations that cannot afford to pay them a

Pastors are front and center in the life and death battle between light
and darkness. Because of the difficulties and pressures of the pastoral calling,
I have tried over the past few years to give them the benefit of the doubt, pray
for them in all circumstances, stand up for them when they are mentioned in a
negative fashion, and be less critical of them when I preach. After all, I may
preach in 200 different places in a year. A pastor usually preaches in one.
Bottom line: I love and respect pastors and they live under a scrutiny that most
of us can never understand.
That is why this story is such a hard one to
tell. But it must be told. And I pray that this never happens to your pastor,
and that your church never allows this sort of destruction to take place in the
life of the person God calls to shepherd your congregation.

Several years ago I ran into a pastor at a store while shopping. I had
preached for him a decade earlier and asked how his church was doing. Here is
the conversation that followed.
“Well Clayton, I really can’t say how the
church is doing because they fired me 2 years ago and I have not been back, or
even heard from anyone since I left. I was there for 13 years. Attendance
doubled, we built a new sanctuary and added 4 new staff positions. But what I
did not realize is that I let church work become my life. It came before time
with my family and it even became more important to me than Jesus.”

“I figured out who the power players were in the church, and a deacon
told me to make sure I did not make any of them mad because they had the 2
things that mattered most; family and money. So I made every decision based on
them. I preached for them, made sure I did not offend them, and made special
efforts to cater to them and their families. This brought short-term success,
but I was burning out. I had no passion left. I was just working for a paycheck
and health insurance for my family.”

“I did not realize how much I had negelcted my kids until one became a
drug addict and the other one slipped into deep physical sin. I did not even
know my own children, and it was my fault. Then one day I came home from a
deacon’s meeting, and my wife had taken all of her stuff and left a note on the
table that said she was tired of it. She hated me for ignoring my family and she
blamed me for everything, for putting the church before them.”

You can imagine the lump in my throat as I stood there and listened to
this grown man choke back tears over the family he lost. He was broken; a ghost
of the leader, pastor, and shepherd I had met 10 years earlier. Then the saddest
words to ever leave his lips landed on my ears.
“So what did my church do
when all of this happened? The people I had served and pastored called a
business meeting and they fired me. They said they could not have a divorced
pastor with rebellious kids leading their congregation. They gave me 2 months
salary and wished me luck.”

No grace. No counseling. No support. Maybe they felt he was unable to
lead them any further. Fine. But not even a reception with cupcakes and coffee
to say thanks for 13 years? This is way too common. I see it more than most
anyone else because my calling carries me so many places, and when I hear these
stories, I cry out to God to protect pastors, and the churches they serve, from
shooting our own wounded. Of course not every church is like this and not every
pastor suffers such a fate, but this man did. God help him, his wife, and his
kids. And God help the Body of Christ to offer mercy and compassion to our own
wounded who lay on the side of the road, in a ditch, waiting on anyone, even a
Samaritan, to come to our aid.

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