My wife and I have 3 grown kids. One has survived a brain tumor, one was a straight arrow, and one was a challenge. My eldest daughter...
My wife and I have 3 grown kids. One has survived a brain tumor, one was a straight arrow, and one was a challenge. My eldest daughter Heather (our challenge) even co-wrote a book with me about our experience called Daughters Gone Wild--Dads Gone Crazy.
I've excerpted 5 insights from our book about how to keep your family intact in the pressure-cooker of ministry.
1. Resist turning words into weapons. Heather got me so angry that at times I said some things I wish I had never said. I wish I could have taken back some of those angry words. Prov. 12:18 (NIV-G/K): Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. One psychologist suggested that we wait 30 seconds before responding in an angry situation.
2. Stoke the relationship fire with your children to keep the relationship alive. If you’ve ever gone camping, to keep the fire going you must stoke it, stir it. Often when I was hurt so much, I had to make a conscious choice to reach out to her in tangible ways to let her know that I loved her. Just small things like simple grace gifts kept the relationship alive. Although I stumbled often, Heather later wrote us a letter that really touched our hearts. Here’s what she said.
“Thank you for never closing your heart to me. I wouldn’t be what I am now if you had…I always felt the love of God from you…through your unrelenting pursuit of me in my times of darkness, through your never giving up on me, through everything you did for me in spite of how horrible I was..that’s how God loves us.”
3. No matter how much your children may hurt you, never close your heart to them. At times I felt like giving up on my daughter. But by God’s grace, I kept my heart open to her. I’m glad I did because I got to experience the fruit of reconciliation later.
4. Keep a good sense of humor. Sometimes you simply must laugh between the tears. One night Heather showed up at 4:00 in the morning as we caught her climbing into the window on the biggest day of the year, Easter Sunday…I had to keep a sense of humor to keep from killing her.
5. Choose your battles carefully and lose some on purpose. Some battles with your children are not worth the fight. On biblical/moral/ethical values: stand your ground. On personal preferences: it’s worth losing some of those. Dress, a clean room, and some music choices are personal preferences. I love what one person said, “if you can cut it off, wash it out, or grow it out, don’t sweat it.
Every pastor faces it.
Most hate it.
You can't avoid it: People leaving your church
In my over 20 years as a senior pastor (and a another 10 as an associate), for various reasons I've probably seen hundreds of people leave the churches where I served. In one year over 100 people left the church I planted after I gave my infamous "Willow Creek" talk. I had just attended one of Willow's early conferences and within two weeks I delivered a message about all the changes we planned to make. It didn't work. In my immaturity, I had failed to wisely manage change.
Except for those blessed subtractions (those who leave who have created problems in your church), unless you are an emotionless robot, when someone leaves it hurts.
Here's how I've tried to process my painful emotions when people leave:
I don't disparage them to others after they leave.
I reach out to those who had significant roles in the church. Often I will meet with them.
I NEVER burn bridges. I wish them well and pray for them in person if possible.
I don't try to hide their leaving from other leaders, and neither do I broadcast it.
Recently we've attempted informal exit interviews to discover why leavers left and if there's anything we can learn.
When I see them again, I reach out and show genuine interest in how they're doing.
I don't let myself become bitter. God has graciously given me short memories about hurtful church experiences. His grace soothes the hurts.
I remind myself that Jesus also faced those who left Him. John 6.66: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
People leaving your church is inevitable. It is how you act and how you lead your staff by example that is important. Although it might be hard, treating those who leave with grace is always the best policy.
Well spoken. The kind, gentle response you promote blesses me.
I also have realized that people may leave a church because of the wonderful, often unknown, moving of the Holy Spirit wanting to work in their lives in a new environment. I find it helpful to focus on the larger church and continue to love, pray for and uphold the one who leaves. Who knows, God may push me out of the nest next. Maybe we need to teach our people how to leave in a Christ honoring way .....when they are not making the difficult choice. Thanks for your ministry and labor of love.
Posted on Wed, Mar 6, 2013 @ 8:52 AM CST
Pastor Newsletter Archieves
Click to read past articles --->
Praying for Peace And It Does Not Come--->
What Pastors Should Look For in a Safe Relationship--->
Turning a Little Criticism into Major Carnage--->
Why Smart Pastors Stumble--->
When You Don’t Know What To Do, Find Someone Who Does--->
A Biblical Mentoring Model--->
When Ministry Knocks You Down--->
Introverts in Ministry--->
Should Pastors Repent Publically?--->
Guilt Producing Questions Pastors Secretly Ask Themselves--->
Saving Your Family Without Killing Your Ministry--->
Eight Healthy Ways To Respond When People Leave Your Church--->
When You’re Challenged, How Do You Respond?--->
Making the Move from Conflict to Cooperation--->