Over the years of my pastoral ministry, I can still remember several church members who did or said something that just plain made me mad. Looking back now with a bit more perspective, though, I realize I learned something in the process. To protect the innocent (and the guilty), I’ve categorized these members rather than name them:
- Brother “You’re still young, pastor.” I was sure I knew all I needed to know to pastor well, and he thought I was still so young (20 years old) that I wasn’t nearly as smart as I thought I was. He was right. I was WAY wrong.
- Brother “You shouldn’t be counseling.” He was an older member, and his honest concern was that I shouldn’t be doing marriage counseling because I was a single adult at the time. I don’t think I was wrong to counsel, but he was right that I had a lot to learn after I did get married.
- Sister “I’m leaving the church if you don’t ______.” You fill in the blank, and you’ll probably be right. She was angry at almost everything. What she taught me is that the church has some miserable people – and I need to pray for them rather than let them get under my skin.
- Sister, “you need to straighten out my son.” Her son did, in fact, need straightening out, but I thought it was more her job than mine. I learned from her, though, that some parents really don’t know what to do with a wayward child.
- Brother “My theological system is the only right one.” What his system was doesn’t matter for this post; what matters is that he showed me that (a) some people in my church didn’t believe exactly like I did as their young pastor, and (b) some had actually given great thought to their system. We differed, but I respected this man.
- Brother “Pastor Chuck never got to Jesus.” This brother was publicly sharing his conversion testimony, and he pointed out that I first told him all about the church, but nothing about Jesus. I was both angry he said it and mortified he had a reason to say it. He taught me a big lesson about witnessing that day.
- Sister, “You know, don’t you . . . ?” She apparently knew everything in the church – or at least she was trying to find out everything. I learned from her to be careful in what I share as a pastor. Some people use information as a weapon or a badge.
- Brother, “I’m trying to reach them by living like them.” So-called evangelism was his excuse for his continually sinful lifestyle choices. From him, I discovered that lost people were on the church roll.
Sometimes we learn the hard way. What church members who taught you something would you add to this list?