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Posts Tagged ‘the pastor’s wife and forced termination’

I have been blessed to become friends with many pastors and their wives through this blog.  Sometimes a pastor reads my articles and shares them with his wife, while other times a wife shares them with her husband. 

Several weeks ago, I asked a wife whose husband went through a forced termination if she would be willing to write an article about how her husband’s departure affected her personally.  Because she loves writing – and has a blog of her own – she quickly submitted the following article.  I’m choosing to keep her identity anonymous so that nobody can trace this article back to her.

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“Well, you will never guess what happened at the deacon/elder meeting tonight,” my husband said as he sat down on the edge of the bed.  I figured it must be monumental considering the late hour. 

Then he proceeded to tell me about the conversation that had taken place and his reasons for resigning.

Yes … resigning.

Somehow I knew that things were building up to this but hearing it verbalized finally made my suspicions a reality.

How had we come to this place and what would we do?

He resigned without having another job lined up.  Nobody in their right mind does that!  We still had our youngest child living at home and heading into his senior year of high school.

Despite all of the questions whirling around in my head, I knew that he had been backed into a corner and if he hadn’t resigned, the people who wanted him out would keep pressing in until eventually he would be fired.

There had been the few disgruntled people who weren’t happy with his leadership.  They found a few others who had felt slighted or hurt or ignored … or claimed they weren’t being spiritually fed … or that my husband’s sermons were too negative … or that they weren’t hard hitting enough.

They had talked with each other, had secret meetings and eventually had convinced the deacon/elder board that the pastor needed to change.  (After having a fairly uneventful pastorate for almost two decades, how does one change and become someone else?)

My husband apologized for any ways that people might have been hurt, though most of them were nameless to “protect their anonymity.”  It was a no-win situation.

There was an agenda that had taken on a life of its own.  Without any possibility of due process occurring, we knew it was over.

As I watched this man whom I deeply respected begin to grieve and mourn the many losses that accompany this sort of situation, I began to enter into a journey of my own.

It started with a fog of mainly going through the motions of life while trying to figure out the next step.  We had just moved out of a parsonage and bought our own house.  We even had major projects we were in the middle of.

How would my husband get another pastorate after this one did not end well?  What if he didn’t want to pastor anymore and has no training for any other type of job?  Where might we have to move?  What about aging parents and our children who were all in various transitions of life?

Those were just the practical questions I was trying to process.

The other issues I wrestled with were the hardest.  How did this happen?  Why did this happen?  I thought we were all Christians?  Is this how the body of Christ is supposed to treat their pastor?

There was no doubt in my mind that my husband wasn’t perfect.  Good grief, I was married to the man!  However, when a pastor is attacked, the one person who would be his best character witness and knows him more than anyone else gets the least amount of input.  I knew him better than anyone and I didn’t have a voice.

Nobody saw the countless times he wrestled in prayer for some of these people.  They didn’t know the many ways he would alter his schedule or put personal time aside to counsel them or give them a helping hand when needed. While they were believing the worst about him, most of them were people he would have called “friend” and would have certainly considered a brother in Christ.  He would have dropped everything to have been there for them if he was needed or given them his last dime if he knew he could help them. 

He was a good pastor and a caring shepherd, but my opinion didn’t count.  I could do nothing to help my husband but stand with him in his suffering.

I as well struggled with personal hurt.  I had poured myself into these people and their families.  I had babysat their kids, fed them meals in my home, cared for them, prayed for them, been vulnerable with them, laughed and cried with them.

I began to see certain women who I thought were friends withdraw from me with no explanation.  Who had they talked to?  They hadn’t talked with me or even asked what was going on or how I was doing.  I began to realize that other people were influencing their opinions and that they didn’t want to know mine.

On the other hand, would I have told them if they had asked?  What details would be appropriate to share and which would not be?  How do I reflect Christ in this situation?  What does it look like?

I spent a lot of time reading blogs such as http://blog.restoringkingdombuilders.org.  I devoured books on pastoral termination and church conflict.  I found great comfort in the Psalms, identifying with David as he cried out to God in those situations where he felt attacked and alone.  I prayed often that God would guard my heart against bitterness.  I desired that He would allow me to learn, grow and somehow be able to make use of the pain.

I learned a lot about the lonely suffering of Jesus.  He was forsaken by almost everyone at his crucifixion.  The disciples ran away, the people who were shouting “Hosanna” the week before were now screaming at Him, mocking Him or simply not even there.  We are told in John 2:24 that Jesus did not entrust Himself to any man because He knew what was in their hearts.  I began to coin a phrase: “Love them deeply but hold them loosely.”  I realized that Jesus loved man enough to die for him but He also knew that He could not fully trust in men because they did not have pure hearts.

I decided there were four types of people in these sort of situations:

*There are those who mean to do a pastor harm.  Sometimes they harbor a grudge; sometimes they have selfish ambition or control issues and operate out of evil places.

*There are those who just follow along because the first group influences them and they don’t know what to believe.

*There are those who really love the pastor and don’t like what is happening but they are not vocal or are too intimidated to find their voice.

*By God’s incredible grace, there are those amazing few people who may stand up and be your greatest supporters.  Because we were blessed to have some of those godly brothers and sisters in Christ who knew how to support us, it has given me the understanding and the ability to do that for fellow pastors and wives when they find themselves in similar situations.

One of God’s gifts to me is exhortation so I cannot leave this place without offering the hope that He will take care of you.  God provided for us and He indeed pulled a Romans 8:28.

We are in a new pastorate and provided for well.  We have moved far from our families but God has taken care of all of them.  His faithfulness and provision have humbled us and taken our faith and trust in Him to a whole new level.

This does not in any way nullify that there was wrongdoing on the part of some.  However, we leave them to the One who knows what is in the hearts of all men.

My prayer for you comes from Paul’s words in Philippians 1:3-6: “I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

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If you are the wife of a current or former pastor, and you’d like a safe place online to share thoughts and feelings about what you’ve experienced in ministry with other pastor’s wives, please drop me a quick email at jim@restoringkingdombuilders.org and I will pass on your information to this article’s author.  Thank you!

 

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