It happens. Suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere a pastor abruptly resigns from his church and the people are left in a position of being without their shepherd. It can be a scary and anxious time for a church. It can lead to great spiritual victories or terrible calamities.
For many, they feel betrayed because they have given their heart and loyalty to the pastor and now he is leaving for whatever reason. Our reactions are important in these situations so we must make certain that our actions are principled and that they honor the Lord. Here are a few suggestions that all of us should consider when we hear of one who has resigned his church.
1. Do not assume the worst.
Speculation is the enemy of truth and the friend of scandal and rumors. Men leave and they do so for a variety of reasons. Some leave to go to another work. Some leave because they are spiritually burned out. Some leave because of family issues. A small percentage leave because of a moral failure. Why do we assume the worst rather than hoping for the best? Regardless of their reason for resigning, we ought to assume the best not jump to quick conclusions.
2. Do not read the gossip blogs to get your “news.”
Inquiring minds do not need to know. Busybodies do! Be very careful about seeking information on a matter. In this day of the internet, there is such a temptation to get information on the internet that is totally false or biased. Mind your own business. Keep your focus on the work that God has given you to do and avoid the temptation to be diverted from it. Bloggers typically have an agenda. For us to go to them to find out “the truth” is ludicrous and wrong.
3. PRAY! Do not talk to others about it.
The minute you hear something you should begin to bathe the pastor, his family and the church in prayer. If we had more prayer warriors and fewer internet browsers maybe we could have revival.
4. Be considerate of the church.
It is sad when a church gets caught up in a whirlwind of outside interference when they need to be focusing on finding God’s will for their future. Do not call church or staff members to get information or to give advice. Allow them to grieve and to begin to go through the process of seeking the will of God. DO NOT assume you know who the next pastor should be or how they should go about seeking one.
5. Be considerate of the pastor and his family.
The last thing they need is my opinion or my questions. While I stand ready and willing to assist if I am called upon to do so, I must otherwise show respect to the privacy of the pastor. If I know him well, I may write a brief note expressing my love and my willingness to be of help, but I must not interfere. Give him and his family some space to allow them to begin making the adjustments they need to make. No matter what the reason for resigning remember that they are hurting too. Saying goodbye is always traumatic.
6. Remember that God is in control.
It is so easy for those of us who are leaders to immediately begin to second guess a situation rather than waiting to see what God has in store for a work. Let it play out and see what great work God can do even when we do not understand.
7. If there was a situation that required the pastor to resign, BE SPIRITUAL.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1, 2.
There are three principles here that we are commanded to follow IF we are spiritual. Maybe this will be a test of your spirituality.
First, we are commanded to restore the one who was overtaken. That should be the first thought and desire of any Christian when they hear of one who has fallen.
Second, we are to consider ourselves lest we be tempted. Tempted to do what? We must ask God to deliver us from the temptation to judge, to accuse to listen to talebearers, even to become prideful.
Thirdly, we are to bear the burdens of others. Remember 911. Our fellow countrymen had been slain and we all felt such a desire to help the families of the victims. That is how we should feel about the victims of one who has fallen, including the church and even the family of the one who has fallen. We should rally our support with love and reminders of the goodness and sovereignty of God. However, let us make certain we do so in a way that is appropriate. One way we can ALL bear their burden is to pray for them.
8. Keep your opinions to yourself.
In fact, why should you have an opinion in the first place? That is presumptuous and prideful. All too often we jump on the bandwagon of giving our thoughts on things about which we really know little or nothing.
9. Keep your eyes on the Lord.
Sometimes we all must be reminded that God is our hope and He alone is worthy of our trust and faith. It is not wrong to look to a man as long as we never forget that he is, in fact, JUST A MAN. God removes men from positions as He wills and He alone should be the one in whom we put our trust and confidence.
Let’s face it. Pastors do resign and often the scope of the man’s influence causes an unhealthy stir among us that can only hurt the cause of Christ. Be cautious lest you make a difficult situation even worse.