Make sure you leave right. Ever heard that one before? It can be said to church members, and especially to departing staff members. I’ve had many a letter describe a sordid tale over simply leaving. In fact, a reader even asked me to tackle this topic.
This is an awkward subject in the sense of who wouldn’t want to follow “make sure you you leave right” as a principle? In leaving one could, of course, be unchristian and bring damage to the cause of Christ. We should recommend this as a course of action to each other in the instances of life where we must leave.
Just because it is a good thing to do, and a good step to recommend, does not mean it cannot be used in some bad cases of abuse. It most often rears its ugly head when a pastor abusing his role like an oily hireling uses it as manipulative–PR moves, scapegoating, character assassination, or ego enhancement.
Oftentimes the church member or staff member will strive to leave in the best possible terms. Some things that could be said are graciously left unsaid. Care is taken to get into no gossipy situations. And especially, must respect is afforded the pastor.
Then sadly, that respect is not returned. Accusations are made. The pastor acts like the ends justifies the means even if that means destroying someone to protect his ministry. Sad when we forget it is God’s ministry.
In some cases it is only an assistant being called out to other work. This should be a cause of rejoicing like a Timothy going out from Paul, but instead the pastor is only concerned with the immediate impact on him. He acts like his ministry is the height of God’s work instead of seeing that God’s work often thrives by others being sent out.
We need a call back to pastors as shepherds. We give our lives for the sheep, not destroy the sheep we were called to love and care for. May God help us.
Find all articles in the series here.