When a pastor stands to preach, he never knows who is listening to him. And if his sermon is recorded or broadcast, he has no clue who will be hearing his words. He will do well to make sure he knows what he’s talking about.
Case in point.
Last Sunday evening, I spent three hours with the deacons of a church near here. At the conclusion of the two teaching sessions, I shared a favorite story.
Ted Traylor, pastor of Pensacola’s Olive Baptist Church, told this story to Leadership Journal back in 2001. For over a year, the pastor had tried to get a veteran staff member to make some needed changes in his ministry. But he refused all offers of help and all attempts to supervise him. The staffer owned this particular phase of the church and no one was going to tell him what to do. So, finally and reluctantly, Pastor Ted terminated him.
The day he fired that staff member, the church held its regular business meeting that night. A lot of people on that fellow’s team were incensed. “How dare the pastor do such a cruel thing!” The anger was palpable. The pastor’s name was mud. For weeks afterward, the bad spirit persisted. People would call the pastor’s home in the middle of the night, then hang up the phone. Women said harsh things to his wife in the store. Pastor Ted says, “Had a search committee from Toadsuck, Arkansas come, I would have gone with them.”
One night, as the pastor and his son were returning home, three men from the church were standing at the edge of the yard, waiting to talk. Traylor sent his son into the house and walked back to where they were standing.
Even though these were among his greatest supporters in the church, Pastor Traylor figured they had come to ask him to leave.