How to Handle Stupid Things People Say

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.

What steps are you taking to move past the hurt in your life?

POSTED ON November 19, 2013
  • Daniel James Engstrom

    It’s sad this happens, especially with in the church!

    • Agreed, Daniel. But people are people, whether inside or outside the church. It is unfortunate but it is reality. What’s most important is that we look past this and understand that although we might get hurt by the actions of others, there is still work for the Kingdom of Jesus to be done.

      Thanks for the comment!

      • Daniel James Engstrom

        Amen! We most move on with the work for the Kingdom

  • Chris Flores

    I also took a break and didn’t blame God. But what I personally had to do to get better was to come to terms with the idea that people (especially leadership) are going to say or do things that hurt me or the church, I also had to realize I was also part of the problem. I started pleasing men (leadership, those I ministered with) and stopped focusing on pleasing God. When I look to make man happy, they eventually will fall short. When we ending our ministry, we hid at a large church for several months, but were missing connection with the body, so we found a church that we thought could be there for us while we healed. So one Sunday morning the lead pastor got up and said something that began true healing, he said “they would probably say or do something to hurt me” and went on how my relationship with God was their main priority and it was at this point I knew i was partially the blame for how my ministry had ended. Instead of feeling bad like i normally did, I started to receive God’s love and grace like i had never experienced before. It was as if God was speaking right at me. He knew I needed to hear those words. God knew I started putting those who mentored or lead me, or those I was leading with on the pedestal! I always think people are smarter than me, but God wanted me to trust HIS promptings, HIS SPIRIT, HIS guidance and not my intellect. I don’t have to be smarter in God to make a difference. I have to Love the way that God loves. So in summary He showed me over the last year that i putting these men that i was leading with, in a place they could never meet the expectations I had of them. Every answer was to love in anything we were dealing with, and I should have stood up in Love those many times, but by the grace of God moving forward I can keep loving and learning to love better. This love is not my love, it’s God’s love – a huge difference.

    • Thanks for the comment, Chris. I appreciate what you said. “I started to receive God’s love and grace like I had never experienced before.” That’s really the most important thing. Once we grasp the love and grace of Jesus, that’s when our lives really start to change.

  • Kelly

    Thanks for this article. It encouraging to know that other people have gone through similar situations and eventually found healing. As a ministry couple, we have been maligned, taken advantage of, and both lied to and about by church leadership. We recently left full time ministry and are wondering what God has for us next. We’re not sure if ministry is for us anymore. For awhile at least, we’ll be taking a break to focus on the health of our family and finances. Serving in a small church wreaks havoc on personal finances. It would be so amazing to work for a good leader in a healthy church. I’ve always believed that God was using our painful ministry experiences to prepare us for something greater, but now I’m starting to wonder… maybe there is no grand plan in it at all. Maybe we’re not supposed to be in full time ministry. I wish I knew. Anyway, thanks for being so honest about ministry. It’s refreshingly transparent and gives me hope.

    • Kelly, thanks for the comments. You know, there are far too many of us – you and your husband, myself, and countless others – who have once worked in full-time ministry and have since found ourselves leaving and seeking out what is next for us.

      As you ask and seek during this time, I’d encourage you to let this time be one that’s refreshing and encouraging to your own personal walk. I personally believe that God pauses sometimes and just allows us to sit still for a bit or He let’s us make our own decisions to what is next for our lives. But be intentional. Don’t let the frustration dictate your future. Believe that God has a plan and that you are still a part of it. Because you are. Thanks for being so transparent and open. I’d love to continue the conversation.

  • Jessica Zhuo

    Thanks for this post! I too am keeping the distance and not rushing back into serving in ministries within the church. I continued to worship in the same church I left my employment with. It was tough and most weeks initially, it felt terrible. But I knew God had not called me to move and if I did, it would be rebellion/sin in my case… So I stayed, worked out the internal issues through a lot of reflection and and think-time with God. It’s getting better but I’m being careful what I commit myself to because of the impact it could have on my family. Thank you for your honest writings because I can relate to so many of your posts… It has brought me encouragement and comfort to know it’s ok to go through journeys like this…

    • Jessica, I’m glad you came across the site. And thanks for your comment. I’d love to hear more of your story sometime. Shoot me an email.

  • I was really hoping to hear more on the topic of “how to handle stupid things people say.” Like, oh my gosh, do I ever need to read an article on that. Maybe Buzzfeed has something 😉 But seriously… I can already think of a few: 1) Ignore it. If you’re capable of ignoring things, DO IT. But chances are, stupid words stick to you like molasses on the highway during january…

Bo Lane is the founder of ExPastors, a community that strives to offer help, healing, and hope for expastors, pastors, and church leaders, and author of Why Pastors Quit. As a media professional with more than 15 years of experience, he has developed marketing and brand strategies that have revolutionized churches and businesses, both large and small. Bo left full-time ministry after serving more than a decade in churches in Oregon, California, and Iowa. He is also a writer, filmmaker, woodworker, husband and father.