Monday, May 28, 2007

Before You Quit . . .

Before You Quit

The best laugh I've had in a while came from one of our pastors who wanted to resign and the Lord put a stop to it. He sat in my office this week and told us what happened.

Under the stress of the church situation--every church has its situation--the pastor felt he had taken all he could stand. So, he sat down and wrote a letter to every member of his congregation. He didn't exactly resign, but came close to it. "Perhaps my work here is finished," he confessed.

He printed out the letter and, against her better judgement, his wife helped him stuff the envelopes and apply the stamps. He dropped them off at the post office and drove home.

Now, we old-timers could have told him not to act rashly, that these things often look different after a good night's sleep, and that at the very least he should have let that letter "set" overnight and read it more dispassionately the next morning. But, he had done it and that was that.

Or so he thought.

The next day, every single one of those letters was back in his mail box. The cost of postage had gone up that week and he had not put enough stamps on them.

The pastor stood there glaring at all those returned letters and recognized God had sent him a message. "It ain't funny, Lord," he called out, just before breaking into laughter.

This is probably a good place to drop in a few words of counsel we give pastors in stressful, high-pressure situations who are thinking of throwing in the towel.

1) Stay on your knees. Get alone with the Lord and don't leave until you've said everything on your mind and have remained in that position long enough to hear everything the Lord has to say.

Tell him something like this: "Lord, you brought me here. You knew about this church. You knew these leaders. And yet you chose me and sent me here. But it's now out of my hands, Father. If you want it fixed, you're going to have to do it because I can't."

The next Sunday my pastor friend--who had spent much of that week on his knees in prayer--stood in the pulpit and reaffirmed to the congregation that God had brought him there as pastor and he was committed to staying until He said otherwise. "You're stuck with me," he said to the joy of some and the befuddlement of some others.

I was been in that very situation just a dozen years ago. When you make that announcement to the congregation, your supporters rejoice, the nay-sayers become angry, the devil rages, and the Lord Jesus Christ who alone is the Head of the Church is blessed and honored.

2) "It's not about you, pastor," is the second bit of counsel we pass along. "I know you think they're not following you and that feels like you have failed. But keep saying to yourself, 'It's not about me. It's about the Lord Jesus Christ and Him only.'" In the words of John the Baptist: "He must increase; I must decrease." ===>Click headline for complete article . . .

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