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Pastoral Transitions (When Asked to Leave)
By: Dr. Fred Childs
Making a change in pastoral ministry is challenging for any pastor and his family, even when they have chosen the time to make that transition. However, a staff pastor and family who are released from their present ministry and must make a transition to a new place of ministry face a different situation. Thus the question, “How should a minister respond, act, and live if he is asked to leave his pastoral ministry?”
Ministers have been released from staff ministry positions for various reasons: decreased church income, downsizing of pastoral staff, the phasing out of a particular ministry position or consolidating church ministries. Regardless of the reason(s) for ministry release, this type of transition can be traumatic to the pastor and his family. Because of the emotional, financial, spiritual, and family issues, this topic must be addressed to help ministers and their families who have been asked to transition from their church ministry. Having been through this type of transition myself as a staff pastor in the past due to pastoral change and staff downsizing, I share some insights that will help edify and support the minister and his family who are in transition.
The ministry family leaving a church may experience emotional stress, financial strain, grief, and a sense of frustration. The exiting staff pastor may question the effectiveness, value, usefulness, credibility, future, and potential of his ministry. Income may be an issue, especially if the staff pastor was the major wage earner in the family. There will also be the question of health insurance. Because health costs can be expensive, health insurance is a necessity. If a transitioning staff member lives in a church parsonage he may wonder, How long can we live here? These are just a few of the concerns that a transitioning staff pastor will be forced to address. What follows are a few suggestions that will help the transitioning pastor and family.
1. Affirm your personhood as a Christian.
God loves you. You, your ministry, and family are valuable to Him. He knew this change would take place before you were asked to make your transition. He has confidence that, with His help, you will make it and your future will still be bright. He knows this is a traumatic change that affects your life, finances, ministry, self-perceptions, spouse, and children.
2. Continue growing in your personal faith walk with God.
You will need to grow spiritually through this situation. Don’t become stuck on, Why is this happening to me? Instead ask,How can I grow through this situation and see glory brought to God?
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Every Church needs to answer the following eight strategic questions:
1. Why do we exist as a church? (Biblical Purpose)
2. How has God worked in our past? (Ministry Milestones)
3. Whom has God called us to reach? (Ministry focus)
4. Who has God shaped us to be? (Core Values)
5. Where is God leading us in the future? (Vision)[ read more...]
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
There are many worship services going on today but too many lack Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) involvement. The only way to lead a Spirit-filled worship service is if those doing the leading are filled with the Spirit. Sounds basic I know, but it really is the answer to leading a true Holy Ghost inspired worship service. Those who are involved need to have a true love for worshipping God and they need to express that while leading. The musicians, singers and anyone on the platform leading worship should be full of the Holy Ghost themselves (John 20:22).
Lead by example! When you are singing songs about worship and you yourself are not worshipping, you are sending the wrong message. As "worship leaders" we should be leaders of worship. To lead someone is to show someone the way. While leading worship, one should not feel constrained or bound by anything. Outward demonstrative worship requires us doing just that…demonstrating worship! Whatever the Lord impresses on your heart to do while leading, you should do without hesitation.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
liberty- freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.
Pray to be sensitive to the Lord's leading. The Lord knows in each and every service, where He wants to take the congregation. If we limit Him by not leading the way we are supposed to lead, the service goes in the wrong direction. We should pray every service to be sensitive to His voice and that He would show us what He would have us do in that service. Worship is not something we do for anyone else but for our Creator. Worship is something that does not require the attention or approval of anyone else but our Lord and Savior! We were created to worship Him. He doesn't make or force us to do it, it is something He wants us to do from the bottom of our hearts. He gives us the choice to worship Him or to not worship Him.[ read more...]
Fear can and will keep many good leaders from becoming great leaders. Many mountain climbers have stood at the base camp of Mt. Everest, yet only a small percentage of them have had the courage it takes to actually climb to the top of that mountain.
Fear of the unknown. Fear of what people will say if we fail. Fear of the criticism along the way. Fear of being the only one saying “It can be done.” Fear of our vision being rejected by others.
Fear can kill our God given directive. It can suffocate our dream.
A position or office does not cause a person to become a leader. Though a person be chosen to Pastor a church, they are not truly a leader until they face their fears and actually lead that congregation into the places that God would want it to go. Being chosen to lead is easy. Actually leading is hard.
What defines a true visionary? Is it someone who has a lot of great ideas? Someone who sees the need for change, but never causes that change to take place? About 1 year ago I asked my wife to be very critical of me. I asked her to honestly tell me if I was someone who saw the things that needed to change and caused them to change or if I was someone who pointed out all the areas of needed change and did nothing. Her response though honest, was not what I wanted to hear.
I have determined, that if I am unable or unwilling to cause change in a given area, I will keep my mouth shut. Although I may see a need to change, I will say nothing, unless it is to spark a vision in another person who is capable of creating the needed change.
When I see another person or ministry who is successful, I go to them and find out how/why they are having success. I try to learn from them. Yet, I usually find that the reason they are having success is something I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me about in the past. I get beat up pretty bad as I realize that God told me to do this same thing several years ago, only I lacked the courage to launch into it. You must admit with me that some of the more successful people around you are doing things that you yourself have considered, only they did it and you didn’t.[ read more...]
"Today I yield the floor to Rev. D.E.Haymon. I came across this wonderful article this week and with his permission would like to share it with you. If you have an article that would be an encouragement to our ministerial audience, please feel free to forward it for consideration. "
“Dealing With Self- Doubt”
We wouldn’t worry nearly so much about what others think of us—if we knew how seldom they did! Our natural social and emotional insecurities sometime make us feel far more vulnerable than we really are. I’m talking about self-consciousness—the feeling that everyone (at least someone) is watching and carefully critiquing every move we make.
Having a clear conscience goes a long way toward giving us self-confidence. When we have nothing to hide, there’s nothing to fear! This Scripture clearly lays it on the line: “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). Someone long ago said, “I’d rather go to bed with a mangy dog than try sleeping with a guilty conscience.” Of course, both the filth and stench of the dog, or the conscience, would equally make sleep impossible.
We may safely assume that many of the complaints made in the Psalms, especially those written by David after his sin with Bathsheba, and having hired the assassination of her innocent husband, reflect abject fear. Even after his confession, David carried the scars of his evil deeds. It is especially touching that, to clear himself, he honestly accepted full responsibility. “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight,” he said, then added, “That thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest” (Psa. 51:4). Literally, he committed himself to whatever horrible thing God might say or do in judgment for his sin. Oh, that all might exhibit such humility![ read more...]
An indispensable trait for successful pastors is perseverance. The New Testament word, hupomeno, is best translated "Patiently enduring" or "overcoming difficulties." This unglamorous component of leadership may disappoint those hoping to build effective churches by means of skill, charisma and intelligence alone. Never the less, those who persevere - who doggedly pursue what God has shown them - are more likely to reach their pastoral goals than those sprinting along in reliance on their natural abilities. Perseverance is characterized by three elements:
- Learned Optimism
Resilience - is the ability to bounce back.
Learned Optimism - defined as having an eye for what is going right.
Opportunism - enables the pastor to see opportunities amid the problems.
- Maintain your confidence by being in right relationship with God. You can’t be objective or discerning if you’re not in good standing with God. A strong relationship with God gives you the grace and confidence to deal properly with difficult people.
- Remember over- reacting will only accentuate the conflict and confuse the issue.
- Hold realistic expectations. Make sure the difficult person can reach your expectations. You may be expecting him to do or be something that is impossible.
- Quit trying to change the difficult person. Give up your rights and expectations regarding this person. Accept the fact that you can’t change him, but you can change your reactions to him.
- Refuse to play his games. He may attempt to use you or make you feel guilty or obligated. Recognize the emotional games, and don’t participate.
- Don’t allow yourself to become the difficult person’s slave. Be honest with yourself and learn to say no.
- Keep a proper spirit and attitude. Maintaining credibility is the greatest struggle. Don’t let bitterness, anger, or resentment grow.
Identifying that next leader is not easy. You must often times select a few prospects and begin to work with them waiting for the cream to rise to the top. While you are mentoring and waiting for maturity, here are a few things to begin to look for.
Leadership in the past. The best predictor of the future is the past. Is this a person who has worked well on a team previously? Maybe, they needed a break and stepped aside for rest, but are now able to get back on board.
The capacity to create or catch vision. When I talk to people about the future, I want their eyes to light up. I want them to ask the right questions. When you are sharing your vision with people do they get excited along with you? Do they offer suggestions that spur your imagination further? When you find someone who is able to catch the same vision as you, you have found someone that you can entrust much of the responsibility with. They will have a similar passion for the work as you yourself would.
A constructive spirit of discontent. Some people would call this criticism, but there's a big difference in being constructively discontent and being critical. The unscratchable itch is always in the leader. These people are a bit hard to sift from the genuine critics, but when you do you may have found a diamond in the rough. Just because they are questioning a few things does not mean they are not on your side. Give them an opportunity to help make a needed change and you may have found a great friend
Practical Ideas. Not everybody with practical ideas is a leader, of course, but leaders seem to be able to identify which are and which aren't. A person's experience will often times lend practical ideas. When someone offers an idea that is helpful, it may be that they have been involved in a project much like what you are facing which will make them a helpful candidate for your ministry team.
A willingness to take responsibility. Leaders will bear work, for the feeling of contributing to other people is what leadership is all about. When you find a person who is willing to take responsibility for not only the ministry you have given them, but also the success of it, you have found pure gold. These are people to build upon. The ministry is dependent on individuals who are willing to take responsibility.
A completion factor. In the military, it is called "completed staff work." The half-cooked meal isn't what you want. Someone who competes what they have set out to do is invaluable. When looking for leadership that will help you move your church forward, look for people who finish what they start, no matter how small or trivial the task is.[ read more...]
Here's a question we would almost never ask somebody. And what an incredible question it is. "Are You Backsliding?" It's not a question to condemn. It's a question to ponder. As ministers of the gospel, some would never want to ask their congregations this question as it might offend. How many however, might still be saved today if only someone would have asked them this simple question while there was still time to correct their path?
We ask people all the time, "Are you ok?" "Is everything alright?" And why not? We are genuinely concerned about the welfare of the other person. True concern however, causes one to ask the deeper questions. It forces us to enter into a conversation on uneasy ground. Barbara Walters is renown because of her ability to ask interviewees the probing questions that often times bring those she interviews to tears. They never expected her to ask "That" question.
We oftentimes don't like to ask the hard questions. We rarely enter into conversation with someone where we don't feel comfortable. Yet, here is the place where a person is most vulnerable. Here is a place where they are searching for answers. Here is a place where they often times feel lost. Hard questions demand hard answers. Hard answers lead to a right way of living.
A person who is "off track" seldom realizes it before it is too late. Recently, the news has read like this...
Aug 6, 2011 - A hiker fell to his death from a cliff near a waterfall in the Angeles Forest in Eaton Canyon early Saturday, the second fatality in the...
Aug 1, 2011 - A 26 year old woman fell to her death Sunday while descending from the summit of Half Dome within Yosemite National Park.
July 27, 2011 - A Hiker fell to his death in Buckskin Gulch.
July 19, 2011 - A hiker died on Monday morning after sliding between 50 and 100 feet on a steep snow field along the Grinnell Glacier Trail.
June 25, 2011 - Officials say that a woman fell to her death while hiking on Mount Evans Saturday.[ read more...]
There are many different ways to lead God's people.
- Visionary leader - These leaders have a crystal-clear picture of what they want to happen. They cast visions powerfully and possess indefatigable enthusiasm to pursue the mission.
- Directional leader - The directional leader can carefully assess the values, mission, strengths, weaknesses, resources, personnel, and openness to change of an organization - then point that organization in the right direction.
- Strategic leader - A strategic leader forms a game plan everyone can understand and is able to get various departments synchronized and focused toward the goal.
- Managing leader - These leaders possess the unique ability to establish mile markers on the road to the destination, then organize and monitor people, processes, systems, and resources for mission achievement.
- Motivational leader - These leaders possess insight into who needs a fresh challenge, additional training, public recognition, and an encouraging word or a day off.
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