Some people say stupid things. It’s true, unfortunately. People will talk about you behind your back. They will talk about your family. They will make crap up. And they will do their darndest to make your life miserable.
And, in most cases, being a pastor just intensifies the level of their stupid talkery.
It reminds me of a story.
I remember my wife, Melissa, coming to me one day and telling me about a conversation she had with the wife of a pastor. The pastor was newly appointed to the church that I worked for and apparently, according to his wife, I was jealous of the gifting God had placed on my wife.
Melissa is very talented. She’s a gifted singer. But more importantly, she’s an incredible leader of worship. She has the ability to lead others into the presence of Jesus – to the throne room of the Almighty, as my pentecostal friends would say – and, in all seriousness, I’ve never had the privilege of working with a better leader of worship than my wife.
For many years, we led worship in ministry side by side and I considered it a privilege to play a small part in the way God chose to use Melissa.
Let’s talk about the truth for a moment.
What this pastor’s wife said could not have been further from the truth.
In fact, the true reality was that my style and the style of this new pastor greatly collided. We saw things much differently and our approach to ministry equally differed. This didn’t seem to settle well with this new pastor and, if you were to ask me, that’s totally fine.
Apparently, it wasn’t fine with him. And so, it was handled very poorly and immature – which was evident by the story above and countless others I didn’t mention. We could’ve talked about misconceptions, our differences, but from what I had experienced with this pastor’s personality, I’m pretty confident that never would’ve happened.
So I resigned from the church. Not just because of this instance but from a culmination of things that conspired during that time.
And, on what would’ve been my last Sunday, I got a call from this new pastor saying that I didn’t need to show up. He would take care of my responsibilities that day and I should just hop on the road with my family and take off.
At that point, my frustration had already grown significantly. I didn’t even realize that, even in this last interaction, he chose division.
After leaving full-time ministry, we jumped from church to church, looking for something new; something far from what we had experienced in our previous years of ministry. I was hurt and frustrated and confused.
And I was lonely.
I felt abandoned from the very thing that I cared so passionately about and I was on the brink of giving up on the institutionalized church altogether.
But God remained faithful to me.
And even in the midst of my struggle, God pulled me past my hurt and placed me in a great church with a pastor that really cared for me and my family.
During that time, I was intentional with how I approached ministry.
1. I kept my distance.
I made it a point not to get too involved too quickly and to avoid areas of ministry in which I had previously served.
A side note: I have several family members and friends who serve or pastor great churches. I was asked several times to serve in their ministries. On occasion I accepted but most times I declined. I knew that it was more important for me to keep a distance and spend my time worshipping Jesus and working on keeping myself and my family healthy.
2. I chose not to blame God.
It would’ve been the easiest thing to do. But I knew the reasons why I left full-time ministry and chose to believe that God had something better for me.
I still believe that.
And today, some six years after I left full-time ministry, I’m again working in the church. In a completely different, but very welcomed, role.
Some people say stupid things and cause much hurt, whether intentionally or unintentionally. But I think that if we can take a step back and believe that God has something better in store, it’ll be easier to move past the hurt of our past and start to find healing in our future.