There are, let’s be honest, a lot of creeps and jerks in the ministry. The author of Hebrews knows that. He also knows that most people in ministry are decent servants of God who love the Church and its members. Of that sort, Hebrews declares
Obey your leaders and give way to them; they watch over your souls because they must give an account of them; make this a joy for them to do, and not a grief — you yourselves would be the losers (Heb. 13:17)
I’m thinking of this passage today because yet another friend of mine, a long time Pastor, has left the Church and left the ministry. And we talked about why. Here’s what he told me:
I left the pastorate because just one jerk made ministry so miserable and the pastorate so awful that it finally came down to a very simple choice for me: I could stay in ministry and have a stroke (my Doctor warned me that it was on the way) or I could leave the ministry and live longer. I chose the latter, not for myself but for my family.
We had a long talk about the circumstances of his choice and I think that everyone in ministry knows what he means. And everyone in ministry understands his choice. The tragic thing is that, as he told me, his Church didn’t understand it. Instead of supporting him by shutting down the ‘jerk’ they stood silently by and said things like ‘everyone knows what he’s like’; dismissing the Pastor’s dread of constant and unending attack for the sake of ‘the peace of the Church’.
As we hung up the phone he said ‘I think the Church will have peace now that I’m gone. Until they call another Pastor. And then it will start all over again sooner or later for the new Pastor.’
I’m sure he’s right.