Pastor Fired by Church

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Re-posted from 2011: Charles Stone introduces his book, ‘Five Ministry Killers and How to Kill Them‘ with a story of how a Church fired their Pastor. As I started the first paragraph, I thought it was a fictional parable used to kick off the main topic of the book.

I read a little further and started to feel a little awkward. Some of the issues were a little too close to home for me. Then, the surprise (for me anyway!). The pastor is a real person and Stone is talking about real struggles that defeat many men and women who are in Christian Ministry.

The pastor in question, faced difficulties with power struggles, salary controversies and questions about his leadership style. His visitation policy was considered questionable and he was accused of “not loving the people.” Why? Because he made a decision to concentrate on his strengths and gifts in preaching and teaching instead of following a routine visiting program.

After some time, one particular man lead a bullying campaign that would eventually see the pastor fired from his job. The pastor made a decision to introduce changes in the Church policy about the expectations of the character of those that wanted to become Church members. He was called to question for this stance. He was threatened with losing his job. He stood his ground and they fired him.

Stone closes off this account of the pastor, “Jonathan”, as follows:

Ten years later, because Jonathan had so graciously responded to his critics and his dismissal, one of his main detractors admitted that pride, self-sufficiency, ambition, and vanity had caused the contention. The pastor’s handling of his ministry crisis left such and impression that eventually the church publicly repented of their actions, exactly 150 years after they sent him packing.

Who was Jonathan? Jonathan Edwards, arguably America’s greatest theologian.

Dear Pastor friend, if it happened to Edwards, chances are you will face similar challenges. Are you ready to meet them with a godly, gospel oriented approach?

Dear Church Member friend, if you have a Pastor that has different ideas about leadership style and ministry emphasis are you able to model gospel oriented flexibility and serve alongside him for God’s glory?

Related Articles:

Ed Stetzer – Church Leadership Book Interview: Charles Stone on 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them

Check out this recent post by Don – a supplement to the comment he made on the original post from 2011.
Firing Your Pastor

Ministry is

saving-friend-battle-of-verdunIn a recent discussion around the formation and shape of Christian ministry there was a reflection exercise. In-part, the reflection considered how, if at all, Biblical patterns informed present day ministry practice. The term, “Ministry” can be quite ambiguous and is not simple to define.

Bible passages that stand out to me, (along with many others you could probably mention) are Aaron’s act as described in Numbers 16:47-48. Paul’s description of himself to the Church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 4:7-12), Jesus summary commission recorded in the fourth gospel (John 20:21) and Paul’s commission from God in Acts 26:17-18.

My “reflection” on these is a free-verse composition.

I love you, he said.
Here is everything I have. It’s yours.
I hate you, I replied.
I don’t want what you have.
I will burn it, despise it and destroy all you are.
My pain is too great. I cannot bear it.
I want to die and end it all.
Let me, take it from you, he said.
But why? I replied
It’s worthless, broken and full of shame.
Let me take it from you and give mine instead.
And then he died.
In brokenness, shame and indignity.
I am still broken.
I am NOT destroyed.
I AM re-made.
I have a treasure now he gave me.
Yet. It’s not for me.
It’s for all the broken people I can see.
I can love them. With his love.
Though they hate me.
Their pain is too great and they cannot bear it too.
I can take it from them.
They can be remade.
Because I can die for them.
Death can work in me and life will work in them.
I stand. Between the living and the dead.
He stood for me.

 What is ministry? It’s not heroic. It’s not taken for granted. It is something to live up to … and then die for.

afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted

A Repost from 2011

“Criticism is normal” says Michael Hyatt in his post titled ‘Friends, Critics and Trolls‘.

Every leader will attract criticism. As C. J. Mahaney notes in his latest post about ‘The Pastor and Criticism‘, this reality is probably what lies behind Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:19:

Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Much criticism is unsubstantiated, unfounded, jealous and petty. It can still damage the soul of the one criticised. Hyatt, in his article, goes on to talk about the way criticism affects him:

emotionally, it kills me. It always knocks me off-kilter. You might think I would be past that. But I am not. I obsess about it, spending way more time thinking about it than I should. I wish this wasn’t true, but it is. (Just ask my wife!)

I think Michael has read my mind – or spoken to my wife! Either way, he is smack on target with my vulnerabilities. He provides a bit of a matrix or model to filter the criticism that is helpful.

One of the things that has helped me in the past few years is to distinguish between three kinds of critics:

  1. True friends. Not all criticism is bad. God forbid that we should turn a deaf ear to everyone who disagrees with us. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6). Some people are in our lives to save us from ourselves. As a leader, the trick is to create an environment that is safe for dissension, so these people can speak up.
  2. Honest critics. Some people decide that they disagree with you and go public. They aren’t malicious. They aren’t out to destroy you. They simply disagree with you. That’s okay. We need to allow for a diversity of opinion. Besides, we might learn something from it. It enriches the conversation. We need to engage these people and refrain from making it personal. Not everyone has to agree with us.
  3. Unhealthy trolls. These people have an agenda. They are out to hurt you—or at least use you for their own ends. They want to lure you into a fight. I have had three this week. They taunt and mock you. They are unreasonable. If you engage them, they will only distract you and deplete your resources. The best thing you can do is ignore them. As someone once said, “resistance only makes them stronger.” You will never satisfy them. Just keep doing what you know you are called to do.

As a leader, you must learn to distinguish between these three. I personally assume that everyone is a friend or an honest critic until they prove other otherwise. I may be naive, but I would rather give people the benefit of the doubt than live a life of paranoia. What about you?

So, just keep on keeping on, following God’s will and vision for your ministry and let the Word direct you, not the whims of a whiner 🙂
As my own Senior Pastor said recently, “Push through and push ahead, God will do the rest.”

Mahaney adds an important qualifier, quoting Tim Keller. If you dismiss a criticism, beware you don’t also become the critic.

Keller writes,

If the criticism comes from someone who doesn’t know you at all (and often this is the case on the internet) it is possible that the criticism is completely unwarranted and profoundly mistaken. I am often pilloried not only for views I do have, but also even more often for views (and motives) that I do not hold at all. When that happens it is even easier to fall into a smugness and perhaps be tempted to laugh at how mistaken your critics are. “Pathetic…” you may be tempted to say.

Don’t do it.

Even if there is not the slightest kernel of truth in what the critic says, you should not mock them in your thoughts. First, remind yourself of examples of your own mistakes, foolishness, and cluelessness in the past, times in which you really got something wrong. Second, pray for the critic, that he or she grows in grace.

Humility is … celebrating when the other guy wins

Have you applied for a job or internal promotion recently? You probably had to update or refresh your résumé as part of that process. How did you go? Did you market yourself well? Did you convince the interviewer or hiring manager that you are the best person for the job? If you’re going to do that successfully, many times, an important leadership quality will be left outside the interview room.

Humility!

When you walk into that interview room you are competing with all other applicants. You don’t have to be good, you don’t even have to be great. You must be the best! That means, somehow you’ve got to elevate your skills, attributes, features, etc above everyone else. Done that? Got the job / pay rise / promotion? Fantastic! What happens when you take that dynamic wow factor for leadership and try to serve in a Church or Christian ministry?

In Philippians 2:3 Paul says, “In humility consider others better than yourselves.” But how does that work? If I have a vision / dream / goal to carry out something great in ministry – should I be jostling others out-of-the-way so my idea gets traction before theirs?

The way a cycling team works gives us an idea of the text here. Not everyone on the team can or will win the race. But the team will work together to protect one another. That means things like drafting the guy behind so he can conserve energy for the final break to the finish line. Team members have to, in that instance, consider the guy behind them “better than themselves.”

In following Jesus, you will enter a Twilight Zone of sorts – where opposites become truisms. Up is down. Weak is strong. To carry out the greatest demonstration of power – destroying the power sin – Jesus humbled himself. He set aside the rights and privileges he had as the best guy in the room and endured the punishment intended for us. But, that is precisely how he won the day.

A Christian is called to follow Jesus, and take up their cross, deny themselves and lose their life to the cause of the gospel. When they do, they gain their life. The gospel tells me that I am not deserving of any of God’s goodness or mercy and I don’t have anything to show that could earn it. Neither does the other guy. But, if he gets it before I do, it’s not because he’s out performed me because grace isn’t a reward or payment.

Pastor Fired by Church

Charles Stone introduces his book, ‘Five Ministry Killers and How to Kill Them‘ with a story of how a Church fired their Pastor. As I started the first paragraph, I thought it was a fictional parable used to kick off the main topic of the book.

I read a little further and started to feel a little awkward. Some of the issues were a little too close to home for me. Then, the surprise (for me anyway!). The pastor is a real person and Stone is talking about real struggles that defeat many men and women who are in Christian Ministry.

The pastor in question, faced difficulties with power struggles, salary controversies and questions about his leadership style. His visitation policy was considered questionable and he was accused of “not loving the people.” Why? Because he made a decision to concentrate on the strengths and gifts of his ministry and prioritize his time on preaching and teaching instead of following a routine visiting program.

After some time, one particular man lead a bullying campaign that would eventually see the pastor fired from his job. The pastor made a decision to introduce changes in the Church policy regarding the expectations of the character of those that wanted to become Church members. He was called to question for this stance. He was threatened with losing his job. He stood his ground and they fired him.

Stone closes off this account of the pastor, “Jonathan”, as follows:

Ten years later, because Jonathan had so graciously responded to his critics and his dismissal, one of his main detractors admitted that pride, self-sufficiency, ambition, and vanity had caused the contention. The pastor’s handling of his ministry crisis left such and impression that eventually the church publicly repented of their actions, exactly 150 years after they sent him packing.

Who was Jonathan? Jonathan Edwards, arguably America’s greatest theologian.

Rev. Jonathan Edwards, a leader of the Great A...
Image via Wikipedia

Dear Pastor friend, if it happened to Edwards, chances are you will face similar challenges. Are you ready to meet them with a godly, gospel oriented approach?

Dear Church Member friend, if you have a Pastor that has different ideas about leadership style and ministry emphasis are you able to model gospel oriented flexibility and serve alongside him for God’s glory?

Related Article:

Ed Stetzer – Church Leadership Book Interview: Charles Stone on 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them

Also (post-edit) check out this recent post by Don – a supplement to the comment he made below.
Firing Your Pastor