Drop The Stick

Posted: October 19, 2014 in Church, From Me To You, Leadership
Tags: , , , , ,

Stick Sometimes church sucks. Yeah, I said it.

Here’s what I mean. Some of you may have been through church splits, and some of you have not. Some of you may have been in a church during a “mere” staff transition. Some of you may have even been on staff when it happened. Perhaps some of you have even been the staff who “transitioned” elsewhere.

But here’s the problem: When a staff member leaves, should he or she continue relations with the congregation and/or the staff? What if the executive pastor has a close relationship with his home group but left because of a disagreement with the senior pastor? Can or should the executive pastor maintain a friendship with these friends, especially if there is a chance that his relationship with them may lead to conversations concerning his disagreement with the senior pastor? Change the names and titles of all involved, and you have likely seen or, at the very least, heard of such a situation.

Before going on, I want to add that we recently went through a staff transition. I previously served alongside another worship leader, but I am now the only worship leader.

So how does one proceed? Should there be a standard procedure for this situation? Should it change depending on the circumstances? I say today that though there may be differences in how much one may stay in contact with friends at the church, once someone leaves a church, they leave.

Consider Acts 5:33-39. The disciples had been preaching in Jerusalem, and they were brought before the Council for punishment. They were put in prison, then found to be missing, Having been released by an angel. Returned to the Council, they pled their case once again. The Council was about to kill them because of the disciples’ accusations that the Council had killed the Son of God. But before they could do so, Gamaliel stood up and gave a calculated speech. He ultimately says that the Council has two options. Should the disciples truly be false, they would only be expediting the process because the disciples would fail anyway. But if the disciples happened to be aligned with God as they claimed, the council would only find themselves fighting against God.

So what does this have to do with church splits and staff transitions? Here it is: If you truly believe that the pastor is in the wrong, and he is, you don’t need to do anything to speak against him. Did you catch that? If you are right, then you can just sit back and relax while God removes the pastor from office. You’ve been through a lot, but you’ve suffered humiliation beyond what you deserve and can now sit back while Nineveh burns.

Wait, what?! Yes, I just compared you to Jonah. You know, that guy who just disappears out of the Bible after his begrudging obedience and subsequent pity party.

Well, that’s where the problem lies. If you have just lost your position and feel in any way upset with your employer, keep your mouth shut. God will take care of him. If you feel sorry for him, keep your mouth shut. God will take care of him.

But if you’re wrong, anything you say — even anything small that was intended to help a friend avoid similar hurt — will be nothing more than a vain little man raging against a loving God in unfortunate circumstances. You must, in this situation, hold yourself to the highest standard. You must be above reproach in every way, denying others any chance to accuse you of selfish or petty actions. If you have remained aboveboard, however, check your heart again. If you have remained aboveboard in order to prove that you’re better than him, you’ve still failed yourself.

The test in all of this is your trust in God, not your ability to correct the human problems around you. To put it succinctly, YOU NEED TO WALK AWAY! Walk away, and don’t talk about it with anyone inside the church or in a public format once the deed is done. You don’t need to prove anything, and you will only cause damage and drag others through the mud with you as you fall.

I’m sure this post will be unpopular with some people. In fact, I expect to have it shared or linked or critiqued in another post. But that doesn’t change my firm belief that dragging a pastor through the mud is dishonorable and positively contrary to Christlike behavior. I’ve just witnessed it in action, and I tell you now that it is a tool that Satan is all too happy to use against the Church. So go ahead and walk softly, but drop the stick.

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