This post is a continuation from a previous post which you can read here. I left off by stating that, “I believe Pastors are in large part to blame for the weak broad answer of, God told me to leave.” While I will not go completely through the earlier post, in short, it’s easy for members/attendee’s of our congregations to move on with no questions asked or feeling the need to give real answers because we, as pastors, have modeled that in front of our congregations.
Pastors do great harm to congregations when they simply leave and their only statement to the congregation is, “God told me to go, I could stay but that wouldn’t be in the will of God. You want me in the will of a God right?” Here’s what I mean, when Pastors stand up in the pulpit on a Sunday to announce their resignation and that “another door” has opened, more times that not the first statement is similar to this, “God has let me know that my work here is finished. God told me to go.” In that one statement alone, we shut down the congregation from asking questions because without saying it we are saying, “take your question up with God.”
While I will admit we don’t have to explain Gods reasoning for what he does, most of the time we as Pastors claim that God is leading us as long as His direction lines up with what we want. Congregations have questions and I am certain that they deserve honesty while we are on our way out the door. I also find it amazing that week after week we don’t mind speaking on behalf of a God. Point in case, we can stand behind the pulpit one Sunday and say, God told me (blank) and then we will relay the why. But, when it comes to leaving we say, God told me to go…but never relay the why.
What’s even more unnerving is that somehow we feel like it’s okay to leave like that. Somehow we’ve shut ourself off from the fact that even though we are Pastors we are still part of the “flock.” We are still members of that local body. When a member is disconnected, cut off, or leaves there is an open wound that takes time to heal. In fact, when we fail to give honest answers and simply leave our fellow members with a God told me to go and nothing more, the healing process malfunctions. I know people who still wander the real reason a pastor left some years later. Further, wouldn’t you think God would want us to answer their questions. I have seen the pain in the eyes of men and women who have trusted, loved, and supported a former pastor only to be betrayed with a half hearted, God told me to go.
What’s the fix?
Honesty and Integrity!
If we need more money and another opportunity presented itself that could better take care of your family, let the congregation know. It’s simple, say, “we are unable to provide for the needs of our family so I began the process of looking elsewhere. An opportunity presented itself, we are pleased with what they offer and am thankful for the opportunity to serve here but we feel that this is the move we need to make.” Though separation is never easy at least there will be few questions. Trust me, it will save the next guy following you.
Here’s what I’ve found. It’s easy to blame God. However, sometimes we use God as an excuse in order to not answer tough questions. Another thing, hirelings leave feeling they owe no one an answer. Vagabonds move from place to place with no sense of ownership and responsibility to the place and people they are around.
Pastors, you are not hirelings and members/attendee’s you are not vagabonds. You are all members of the same flock and an honest answer goes a long way.
I believe there is one more post before I finish this thought. Until next time, keep chewing.