Does your congregation have a good minister? Hopefully so. A congregation really ought to encourage and value such a person.
Unfortunately, many other ministers start out well but then make one of three fatal errors which often brings a ministry to an end. In this case, the problem wasn’t a cantankerous elder or harassment from a segment of the congregation. Rather, in this case, this minister made three mistakes which are often fatal to to a ministry.
Three fatal mistakes a minister can make:
When a minister fails to be trustworthy. When a minister lies, plagiarizes sermons, or pushes a hidden agenda with the congregation, the elders, or both, this could be a short ministry.
After all, good ministers are trustworthy. They tell the truth and live trustworthy lives. You don’t have to wonder what they are up to. They are authentic (no hidden agendas) and take seriously their own transformation into the image of Jesus. This transformation includes their ethics (which impacts how they work with a congregation) and their morals (which impacts their decision making).
When a minister continually shows poor judgement. When a minister continues to use poor judgement with his choice of words, sermons, relationships, behavior in the community, behavior in elders’ meeting, etc., this can cause a ministry to end prematurely. Poor judgement can get a minister into trouble quickly.
Meanwhile, good ministers consistently demonstrate good judgement. They don’t cause others to cringe when they preach. They are not regularly pulling surprises on a church like a magician who might suddenly pull a surprise out of his hat. You can depend on them to handle various situations in a way that is mature. This congregation knows their minister will handle difficult situations with wisdom and grace. Their manner reflects they are trying to work with the congregation.
When a minister is constantly looking out for himself instead of serving the congregation. Such a minister is always trying to figure out an advantage for himself. Many years ago, I knew a minister who approached businesses in the small town where he lived and asked for a discount solely because he was a minister. I cringed at the thought of going in a store and asking for some sort of favor simply because I preached. While many of us would never think of of doing this, there are some who expect to be treated as extra special and not subject to the rules because this person is a minister. When a minister takes certain liberties with the truth, with a church credit card, with an expense account, or with someone else’s wife, he is on dangerous ground.
Meanwhile, the really good ministers serve instead of looking for what they can get from someone. They choose to give to others instead of using others.
There are many good ministers working with congregations. Many of these people are servants who use good judgment and are trustworthy. Unfortunately, there are others who may see a ministry come to an end prematurely because they have violated trust, consistently used poor judgement, and were focused on themselves instead of serving.