What to do, pastor, when you are the victim of a rumor

“Why would you rather not be wronged?…..For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:7,20).

In 1990, after a preacher had served only seven months and tore the church up twice, I arrived as the new pastor.

I  was not the excited new kid on the block as with my previous moves. This was different.

I had endured a brutal three years in my former pastorate and thought perhaps the Lord wanted this broken church (to which I was coming) and this bruised pastor (moi!) to help one another heal.

Some years later, I learned a preacher in our area was telling people that I had torn up this church because of some serious immorality.

I sought him out and asked if he were really saying this.

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Perhaps the greatest failing of godly pastor-husbands

Many a preacher who loves the Lord, enjoys his ministry, and seems to be doing well, wishes he had married differently.

His wife does not appreciate him sufficiently.

Give me a break.

Here’s what this looks like…..

Pastor Chuck is sold out to the Lord and completely committed to the ministry to which he was called.  The church he serves is doing well.  Everything is fine, except for one small thing….

His wife irritates him sometimes.

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My love language was “being on the same side.” Here’s the story.

In an earlier article on this blog, we told how Judson Swihart’s book “How Do You  Say I Love You?”was all the rage in the 70s and 80s, until Gary Chapman restated and refined his material down to “Five Love Languages.”  Swihart’s book featured eight languages of love–meeting material needs, helping each other, spending time together, meeting emotional needs, saying it with words, saying it with with touch, being on the same side, and bringing out the best in the other.

When Margaret and I discovered the Swihart book decades ago and then did the assignment in the back to determine our love languages, we made some interesting discoveries.  We found that hers were “helping each other” and “spending time together”. Actually, this came as no surprise. I had known for some time that nothing made Margaret feel more loved than when I pitched in and helped around the house and we spent quality time together.

The surprise was discovering my own love language.

According to the formula, my love language was “being on the same side.”  If Margaret wanted Joe to feel loved, she should support him as a man, husband, father, Christian, minister, pastor, etc.  And she did.

I’m the one who had an awakening by this revelation.

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Valentine’s Day: “Oh, are they having that again this year?”

My sister Carolyn sent me a list of lame excuses men use as to why they didn’t get their sweethearts anything for Valentine’s Day. “The Hallmark store was closed and I refuse to give you anything but the best.”

That sort of thing.

At the end, her list cited a quote from the old comic Red Skelton.

“All men have flaws; but married men find out them a lot sooner than others.”

You think that’s funny, but it’s not.  A lot of truth to it. And good truth, may I say.

This will be my first Valentine’s Day without Margaret, who left us for Heaven a few days ago. My first anything without her, as a matter of fact.  And I was thinking….

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Today my wife told me she loved me

“Herein is love, not that we loved God–but that God loved us and sent His Son…”  (I John 4:10)

I found the note today–five days after Margaret’s funeral–where she had listed in her handwriting some of the reasons she loved me.

Here’s what happened.

Just before Christmas, our pastor, Dr. Mike Miller, told the church how one year his wife Terri filled a jar with 100 notes, each one telling why she loved him. Each day he drew out one and read it and basked in the glow. He was reluctant to draw out the last one, he said, and has left it there ever since.

Margaret and I teased about that afterwards, as to whether we could do it. I told her I could list a hundred reasons she loved me.  She laughed that she might have trouble getting to a dozen.  Then, over the next few days, if one of us did something the other didn’t care for, we would tease, “Okay. One less reason” or “You’re now down to 5.”

It turned out she actually was making such a list.

And today, I ran across it.

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What my wife would tell pastors’ wives

This is being written two days before my wife’s funeral.

An hour ago, the pastor who married Margaret and me nearly 53 years ago sent a note of his love and prayers.  Bill Burkett is 90 now, living in Kentucky, and seemingly as sharp and gracious as ever.

I told him, “You would have been proud of Margaret.  She was a wonderful pastors’ wife.”

I know a lot of the Lord’s people who would attest to that.  Over a period of 42 years, we served seven churches in four different states. Every church situation differed, the needs varied, and her roles fluctuated with each.

Once, after we’d been married perhaps 15 years, at my suggestion Margaret met with a few wives of pastors in an informal setting. The stated object was for fellowship, but the result was usually mutual encouragement and more.

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When the leadership wimps out, what’s a pastor to do?

“But as for you, keep a clear head about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5).

The deacons in Church A promised the new pastor that if he would come, they would deal with a difficult situation they had been condoning and which was destroying the witness of the church.

A man and woman in leadership positions were co-habiting as husband and wife, though unmarried.  The deacons agreed that it was unscriptural and could not be condoned and that they would address it.

Six months later, the pastor resigned.

He was informed that the deacon leadership had no intention of acting. “We’re cowards,” the chairman said.

That’s when the pastor tried to deal with it himself.

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20 questions a pastoral candidate should ask a search committee

After the committee has grilled the pastoral candidate and the tables are turned, what information should he want from them?

Pastors toss me this issue regularly.  Somewhere in the archives of our website, I’m sure we’ve dealt with this subject.  However, with over 2,000 articles and no index of these things, I suggest that they google “McKeever + (subject),” and see what comes up. Usually, if I’ve written on the subject, it’ll show up in the results.

That said, perhaps it’s time to say a few more things about this.

Here’s the situation.  You, the pastoral candidate, are sitting in a room with a committee of anywhere from 6 to 20 people. They have spent the evening tossing questions, real and theoretical, at you.  You are drained and everyone is ready for the evening to end.

But not yet.  Finally, the chair says, “And pastor, is there anything you would like to ask us?”

You bring out your list.

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The two times the pastor is most vulnerable

“Guard through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us the treasure which has been entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:14).

We’re all vulnerable.  Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall (I Corinthians 10:12).  The brother who gave us that reminder was himself constantly being knocked down, but getting back up.  If anyone knew the subject of vulnerability, Paul did (see 2 Corinthians 4:8-10).

After telling young Pastor Timothy of a coming time when people would not stand for sound doctrine and strong preaching, but would “turn away their ears from the truth and will prefer myths,” Paul said, “But as for you, be sober in all things (that is, clear-thinking), endure hardship (expect it, and plan to get through it), do the work of an evangelist (keep telling Heaven’s good news), and fulfill your ministry (do not let any critic pull you off course).”  (With my interjections, that’s 2 Timothy 4:5).

I find it amazing and truly heart-warming how such reminders to a minister twenty centuries ago fit us so perfectly today.  That’s one more reason, out of ten thousand, why you and I live in this Word. There is nothing like it anywhere.

Now, returning to our subject of the minister’s vulnerability….

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Ministry miseries: How to be sure you got ’em!

I don’t know anyone who wants to be miserable in anything, much less in serving the Lord, but some people give the appearance of working hard to achieve it.

Here are three self-destructive things (you’ll think of a hundred) we ministry-persons do which undermine our effectiveness in the work and fuel the angst of frustration which many people live with on a daily basis….

1) Expect to be paid what you think you’re worth.

Figure out what you are being paid, then total up the number of hours you put in, and divide the second into the first.  The result is your wages per hour.  Disgusting, ain’t it? (smiley-face here)

There is perhaps no more certain path to misery in the ministry than to estimate your own personal value based on such factors as years of training, the degrees you hold, and the tenure you have logged in the Lord’s work, and expect to be paid appropriately.  If this misery is not enough for you, then figure in the number of children you have, the hours your spouse invests in the ministry too (all of it unpaid), and the errands your children run for church members.  You will not, of course, ask to be recompensed for any of that, but dwelling on it makes you feel worse, and after all, that was the point in the first place.

In retirement, the math for certain misery gets easier.  You were invited for a specific event–a retreat for which you were the speaker, a banquet you did, a revival you preached for a church–and when it was over they handed you a check.  You have no trouble at all counting the miles you traveled, the hours you spent in your car, and the costs associated with your trip: meals, tips, dry cleaning bill, and other incidentals.  Then, you figure out the actual number of hours/days at that church, and compare to the numbers on the check you were paid.

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