Last week, I participated in a conference for pastors and other spiritual leaders that dealt with the spiritual “storms” ministers experience in Christian service. I was assigned this topic to address: “The Healing after the Storm.” Early in my pastoral ministry at MSMBC, I went through an extended period of congregational conflict. Of course, my experience does not make me an expert on the subject. However, I am still serving the congregation where it all took place. That a least makes me a “survivor,” whose story may be of some value to others who are in the storm. So I agreed to give a lecture on the dealing with the aftermath and overcoming the challenges the result from congregational conflict. I really didn’t know what to expect before the conference. So I prepared the talk as best I could, not really knowing what exactly the host wanted from me and the seminar. I ended up making several big points, woven into parts of my personal story, which I shared with the guys:
I. Prepare for healing before the storm.
II. Protect your health during the storm.
III. Pursue healing after the storm.
I am sure that I did not say anything revolutionary that hour. But I did endeavor to be honest, challenging, and encouraging. As I took comments after the lecture, I was reminded of the fact that most pastors are good men. Yes, there are some bad pastors who give the rest a bad name. And even the best of pastors have glaring weaknesses and make stupid mistakes sometimes. But for the most part, pastors are men who love Jesus and the church, and are striving to win the lost and nurture the saints to the glory of God. Yet, many pastors find themselves in very difficult situations that cause them to question whether or not ministry is worth all the trouble. This sad fact is often missed in the midst of the overemphasis we seem to put on a few celebrity preachers.
Unfortunately, the drop-out rate among pastors is getting higher and higher as the years go by. And much of the conflict that causes pastors to throw in the towel has absolutely nothing to do with the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Most often, pastors get beat up by congregational leaders and members who are determined to fight about power, money, and titles. Now, to be fair, I must admit that we cannot tell which came first; hurting preachers or hurting congregations. It’s kind of chicken-or-the-egg kind of situation. But the fact is that some churches hurt preachers because they have been hurt by preachers. But my concern here is that many good and godly pastors are leaving the ministry because of “the politics of personal destruction” that takes place in many congregations. But I want you to know that there can be healing. Sometimes pastor and congregations cannot heal together after a season of conflict. But it can happen. Encourage your pastor to hang in there. You may not know how much he deals with in order to minister to you from week to week. Encourage him any and every way you can. And, brothers, keep standing on the word of God and know that it will be a solid rock that will hold you up in the midst of the various storms of pastoral ministry.