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.
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12 thoughts on “Make Sure You Leave Right (IBTR #57)”
In these types of situations, I believe that the Pastors forget that they are sheep also. Yes they are called to feed the sheep, but they are also sheep of God.
I also wonder how often this happens at a churches that a pastor founds and then is at for a long time. In that case he may believe that he is the church and they church cannot function without him. So really everything is about him and how he feels since it is his church that is being hurt by somebody leaving.
Fair points! It is all too easy to forget what it is all really about.
My FIRST pastor left the church (he founded it 8 years prior) about a year after we joined. He NEVER attempted to contact any of the members afterward, even though he lived in the area; apparently, he knew HOW and WHEN to leave. He did NOT like the choice of the pulpit committee, but said nothing and the church still exists today, 35 years later.
Sometimes it goes right!
We “left right” once … it wasn’t easy because we were quite aware of some of the things that were said (behind our backs) and the things that were left unsaid (“mis-communications” as our pastor called them). HOWEVER, the best part about “leaving right” was we had a clean conscience. We didn’t try to justify ourselves, we didn’t try to take people with us, we didn’t try to expose the things we knew. God knows the truth … and that really does set you free!! (and the people who knew us best KNEW without words even having to be spoken what had happened … humanly speaking, that was just a little bit satisfying!)
This is such a great point. We should still be right, even if they are not. Nothing is worth more than a clean conscience.
How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
Folks get off the straight path, maybe they lose their job, or a spouse decides to leave the marriage or a wayward child has a child out of wedlock or any number of stressful events that can befall us. The life of that brother or sister is collapsing all around them. It seems as though there is no reason to go on.
When a pastor believes the ministry is “his”, forgetting that everything belongs to God, he most often will not go after the one, but instead stay with the ninety and nine. Why? He is more drawn to protecting “his” ministry than doing what the scriptures teach.
Is it any wonder that folks often leave dismayed, distrustful and dejected? Nobody stepped outside of the camp to lend a word of encouragement. Simply saying, “We will pray for you,” is of little consolation when your world is caving in on you.
Facing such devastation alone can lead to resentment, anger and harsh comments. Albeit such a reaction is not what we would hope for, but in the real world it is fact of life.
May all of us in positions of leadership be sensitive to the needs of others and never be hesitant to leave the ninety and nine to go after the one.
We left the church I mentioned in my first post. We needed to get away from “performance-based” church, and we did. Other members called to ask why; I said “We left for our own reasons. If you want to leave, you’re going to have to find your own.”
25 years later, we left that church, too, as things went bad. And we left “right”, just walked away. UNTIL the pastor – addled with decade-long drug addiction and the mental deterioration that goes with that – decided to go on spree of character assassination. lies, and slander. And a VERY unusual thing happened: just about every evil deed he had pulled off got exposed and landed on my doorstep. He chose war, and that’s what he got. God has since removed him from the scene.
I’m doing FINE.
Many of these stories are shocking!
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