One of the people I had the pleasure of meeting during my first ministry assignment was Kevin. Kevin was the former Pastors son and was older than me (not a good combination). He was also taking classes towards ordination (a nice addition to the mix). After about three months others suggested he would be the part time assistant pastor. I agreed- once again not knowing what I was getting myself into. It was a part time ten hour a week position, but he decided to treat it as full time. Before I knew it, he was moving his family into the second parsonage the church owned. He completely reorganized the office area. He made what was the Sunday School Office, his office. When we would meet, he would have strong advice for me on what I should do and how I should do it. This, as you could guess did not end well. He worked at our daycare as a teacher. I would walk by his room and hear him screaming (literally SCREAMING) at a little kid, “IS THAT WHAT JESUS WOULD DO?” The irony of this scene was amazing. I should have had more courage to speak up, but I was hoping things would get better. They didn’t. He had the youth to his house (the parsonage) for an activity as he was in charge of them. While there a teen knocked over a sack of movies by his television. Out spilled inappropriate movies. The teen responded, “Hey wait, you're not supposed to have movies like this!” He put them away and said you guys shouldn’t be going through my stuff. When this was reported to me, I knew this was serious. At the time the denomination I was with had specific rules about this- he broke every one. I called my assistant District Superintendent who was a mentor for me. He said, “It’s a shame. I can’t think of any way he could keep his position now.” He contacted the District Superintendent. They rescheduled their morning appointments so the three of us could meet the next day. I was under the impression we were going to discuss the best way to let him go. Once again, I was surprised at the outcome. Something happened before the morning meeting. They started the discussion talking about being redemptive. They told me I couldn’t let him go because he has to have friends in the church and the fall out would be great. They explained I needed to work with him. This was the first time I learned damage control takes precedent over doing what is right. This man's behaviors and finding this in his house was enough to dismiss him for a short time. They wouldn’t even support that. As you may have guessed a few months went by and I dismissed him without their blessing. Of course, he was very upset and yelled again at me. He then took me into the Sanctuary and explained how the church had turned its back on his family. Finally, he moved away to go to Bible College full time.
What I learned from this instance is one cannot wait for others to make the hard decision. I always desire peace, who doesn’t? Because of this desire I have let many issues go on too long, hoping they would get better. Denominational leaders won’t do it, even if the evidence is right in front of them (This at least has been my experience, yours may be different). Church boards and/or leadership teams won’t do it either. The damage control is too much for them to deal with. This leaves it to the Pastor. The Pastor must find a way to make the hard decisions and do what is best for the future of the church. This man had issues to work through and had no business working with the youth. But I was the one who had to do it.
Once again, I was studying the Gospel of Luke during this time. One thing I noticed is Luke chapter 9 is the climactic chapter. It is in this chapter Jesus defines discipleship. We are to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. Each chapter throughout the rest of the Gospel gets tougher. The closer Jesus gets to the cross the more alone He is, the more others don’t understand and the more people leave. This isn’t only true with full time ministry, but true for all followers of Jesus. Taking up the cross is hard, trials will come, tough situations will take place. There is a cost for following Jesus, and a cost for standing for what is right. It is important to do what is best for all involved even if it involves fallout.
Have you experienced similar situations where you received little support for making the hard decision? Share in comments or reply on twitter @wildman1996.
They Call Me Pastor, Sometimes I Like It- Series
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