9 of the Toughest Conversations I’ve Had as a Pastor

I’m thinking today about tough conversations as a pastor – many I’ve had, and some I probably need to have. Without my giving too many details, here are some of the most difficult conversations I’ve had as a pastor. I’m listing them in no particular order.

  1. Telling a church member we were recommending removing him from membership. He was unrepentant, and we needed to take a stand.
  2. Asking a staff member to step down. He wasn’t ready to leave, but it just wasn’t working.
  3. Informing a church member I would not officiate at her wedding. I was certain the marriage wouldn’t work, and I couldn’t put my stamp of approval on it. I was right….
  4. Trying to answer a young couple who asked, “Why did God give us a baby and then take him away so quickly?” I couldn’t answer the question, and my attempts to comfort weren’t working.
  5. Listening as an irate church leader screamed at me for a decision I’d made. Actually, the conversation was only one-sided, because I was shocked by this brother’s emotional outburst.
  6. Informing a family that their loved one had died. The death was unexpected and tragic, and I had no idea what to expect when I informed her family.
  7. Answering the question, “Do you think he’s in heaven?” when “he” gave no evidence of a Christian conversion. Nothing would allow me to say, “yes.” Nor did I know, though, if he had turned to Christ as he approached death. The best I could say with integrity was, “I don’t know.”
  8. Confronting a young man about stealing from the church. I was sure I was right, but I don’t like confrontation in general.
  9. Telling a congregation that I was leaving. The Lord was calling me to go elsewhere, but that truth didn’t erase the grief of leaving.

Pastors, what are some tough conversations you’ve had? 


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