Let’s say you are a minister on the staff of a medium-sized church. You finished seminary and at the invitation of this church, you moved your young family here to this city and have gotten deeply involved in ministry. You are in the process of buying a house. Life is looking good.
Then one day, you are asked to attend a meeting with a few leaders of the church. The administrator is there, accompanied by the chairman of the personnel committee and the deacon chair. Long story short, you learn you are being terminated. Let go. Superannuated. Fired. Getting the ax. Pink-slipped.
They gave you reasons. They said things like, “We love you. We appreciate your ministry. You have a great spirit and we treasure your family.” Then they added the “however.” Things like: “Things are not working out, finances have been down lately, it’s not a good fit, you and the church.” Or perhaps, “Some people are unhappy with the way you do things” or “Your manner is abrasive and you have rubbed some people the wrong way.”
You did not see this coming.
They gave you no warning. You wonder why.
I’ll tell you why. They are cowards, and would admit it in most cases. “This is painful and I don’t like to make people unhappy.” “I’m a peacemaker,” one said, “and have a hard time with conflict.”
So, they spring this on you.
You are informed that you will have a meeting with the pastor the next day, but don’t make the mistake of thinking he’s going to reverse this decision. He is the one in back of it. I guarantee you if he wanted you to remain on staff, you would still be there. This was his call.
So, what are you to do? That’s the reason for this little piece. Here are our suggestions:
1) Hold your head up high.
2) Be prayerful, sweet-spirited, and humble.
3) Do not argue. Nothing you say now in defense of the work you have done is going to change things. So accept it. Thank the leaders for the privilege of serving the Lord’s church for the period of time you had.
4) Recognize that how you exit this church is going to affect a lot of people…
–Church members who love you need you to take this on the chin and not like a spoiled child. If their leadership acted wrongly, they must deal with it and not you. Encourage them to keep their eyes on Jesus and to love their church. Let the Holy Spirit lead them if they need to address some issues with their leaders. However, discourage them from trying to reverse this action regarding your employment. That is over now.
–Your family needs you to be strong and confident. You are naturally concerned about providing for them in the future, but if necessary, you know you can flip burgers or unload trucks at Walmart until the Lord opens a door for your next ministry.
–The next church (its pastor and key leaders) will be looking to see how you handled this. If you bad-mouthed the preacher, even if he was evil incarnate, that reflects poorly on you and they will move on. This is an ironclad rule, my friend. Believe it.
5) Keep your eyes upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
Never forget that He was betrayed by His own apostle and then abandoned by most of them at Calvary.
I will promise you something. When you are old and your ministry is drawing to a close, most of the deepest pains you have borne and the worst scars you carry will have been inflicted not by the enemy but by the Lord’s people.
That is the saddest thing I know, but it’s the truth. So, don’t let trouble blindside you. Expect this to happen. Eyes on Jesus, friend! He alone is your Lord, your Source, and your Resource!
6) Stay in the Word and on your knees.
If you do not, expect your carnal nature to rise up and take over and for anger to poison your system and contaminate all you touch.
As you search the Scriptures, ask the Lord to speak to you through them. In your prayers, claim the fourfold command of Luke 6:27ff, and show your enemies (those who have mistreated you) love by doing good to them, blessing them, praying for them, and giving to them. Ask the Lord to empower you to do these things and show you when and how.
7) Believe that God has better things in store for you down the road. And that this is the method He has chosen to use to get you there.
Believe that these things have not happened without His knowledge, and that He will use them for His glory and your good.
The day will come–write this down and claim it as from the Lord, my friend–when you will give thanks for this termination. Had it not occurred, you would not be where you will be at that point, enjoying the people God has put in your life and the ministry He has given you.
The problem for you now is getting through today.
8) Be sure to rally your network.
Let your pastor friends know, those favorite seminary professors, and classmates with whom you bonded in Christ. Ask for their prayers and if the Lord so impresses them, to give your name to a church in need of a minister with your calling. Send them your resume’. (Be sure to work on your bio and get good advice to make it a positive thing.)
God bless you. You can do this. Head held high, now. “Go in this thy strength” (Judges 6:14). After all, the Lord says, “Have I not sent you?”
I would add, “And has He not told you the way would sometimes be hard, the side effects painful, and the people you were counting on undependable?” You may want to read Matthew 10:16-42 again. (And again and again.)
You can get through this, friend.
See you down the road!