Posts Tagged ‘pastors as rescuers’

Today’s guest blogger is Pastor Rick Rehmert, who has pastored for years in the Midwest.  Rick is currently serving a church as an interim pastor.  Thanks, Rick!

The fall, the splash, and then the desperate cry for help – an adult is drowning.  This is a terrifying scene.  Most “would be” rescuers jump in immediately.  The experienced rescuers hesitate.

As pastor, I am by nature a rescuer.  I am the proverbial dysfunctional preacher with a need to be the hero.  How this has cost me!  I don’t know exactly when it started but somewhere along the way I confused my need for validation with another’s need for life changing transformation.  This confusion, once erased, has led me to the truth: “understand what is.”

The experienced rescuer learns to observe more than just the person needing rescue.  What are the hazards?  How deep is the water?  How strong is the current?  What materials are at hand?  What is the best way to get the person out of trouble?  Is the one drowning capable of drowning him?  He observes “what is.”

Unlike the watery scene imagined above, the pastor usually has more time to assess a crisis before jumping in to solve it.  Belaying that jump can be the difference between a rescue and a double drowning.

What do I mean by “understand what is?”  This statement comes from the recognition that God is already rescuing and I must work in concert with Him.  He may be bringing a person to the end of themselves.  If I interrupt what He is doing, I risk His discipline.

Understanding must precede action.  Reacting is “jumping in” without a clear picture of what is really going on and what a rescue would affect.  Connecting the what, why, and how is vital.  Prayer and biblical insight is our best tool.  Good questions are also good tools.  Before we “fix it,” we need to know what broke, how it broke, and why it needs to be put back together.

The most common crisis in many churches is the unhappy member who threatens to leave.  They can be big givers or well connected or whatever.  The emergency is clear: they are upset.  “Would be” rescuers jump in but wise pastors do not.  They hesitate by asking: Why are they upset and threatening to leave?  What happened?  Explore the scene; secure a mutual understanding of the event in question.  Is this response appropriate?  If not, what would be appropriate?  And why is this not what we are seeing?

Water rescues are risky.  Church rescues are as well.  Most unhappy members do not leave over heresy or immorality; they leave because they lose power – the power to take the church down with them.  This may be a time when the pastor needs to “understand what is” and simply watch.  He will learn so much in such a short manner of time as he prayerfully takes inventory.  God will give him insight and wisdom.  His questions will pierce to the heart of the matter.  He just may become the tool God uses to jump in.  And when He does – His splash will be good for everybody.

Check out our website at www.restoringkingdombuilders.org  You’ll find Jim’s story, recommended resources on conflict, and a forum where you can ask questions about conflict situations in your church.

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