If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you know I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my pastoral ministry. I spend time with students filled with questions about ministry, and that’s led me to think about these things. The past few days, I thought about some of the toughest decisions I had to make over the years. Some don’t seem so tough now, but they were at the time I had to make them.
- Leading the church to discipline a church member. I’d seen it done only once prior to that point, so I was a “rookie” at this painful but important task. I believe we made the right decision, but I still grieve it.
- Saying “no” to officiating at a church member’s wedding. I don’t need to hash out the details here, but I didn’t believe I should sanction the wedding by my serving as the officiant. I’d make the same decision today.
- Leaving a church I loved. I had no question that God was calling me to change my ministry location, but I wept for days during the leaving process. Frankly, I’d rather love a church so much that I grieve leaving than serve a congregation I can’t wait to leave.
- Asking a staff member to seek another position. It would have been easier had he done something wrong. He simply didn’t fit our team and vision, however, and we had to make a hard call.
- Offering to step down as pastor after I ended a marriage engagement. As a single pastor, I hurriedly and wrongly asked a young lady to marry me. My church graciously loved me through the pain and allowed me to remain as pastor, but I was prepared to step away from ministry.
- Calling a church to repentance over past division. The “fights” weren’t even present tense, but the fallout from conflict years earlier was. I didn’t know what I was asking for, but I knew that unforgiving churches could not reach our community.
- Choosing not to baptize the child of faithful church members. I had little issue with baptizing children who wanted to follow Jesus, but I didn’t sense that this little guy had even a basic understanding of the gospel. It took some time, but the parents later understood my decision.
I’m sure that many of you have had to make much tougher decisions. Without revealing any more information than necessary, what were those decisions?