Serving as a minister can be hard – very hard. Yes, there are many situations where preachers and their families have been mistreated by their own congregation. These are real situations and deserve our thought, attention, and prayer.
Yet, I don’t want to overlook another reality for many who preach. This reality is the self-inflicted wound. Some of us misbehave and do not model what it means to be a healthy or a Christ-like minister. For example:
*One particular preacher would not respond to the elders of his congregation. Their requests, regardless of how small, were generally met with pushback. He said openly that he does not like dealing with elders or anyone who might have authority. He has only been with the congregation for three years. (He was at his prior congregation two years.) It appears that unless something changes, he will be asked to move on.
*Another preacher was known to have a volatile temper, particularly when he did not get his way. He became incensed one night in an elders’ meeting and spoke sharply to two elders who had raised a few questions about an initiative that he proposed.
*In one congregation, a long-time minister attempted to manipulate several elders so that he might get what he wanted from the elder group. Often, he would pay one or two elders a lot of attention outside their meetings, leading them to think they were “best friends” with this minister. Whenever this minister had a complaint or a request, he would use these two to push his agenda in the elder group. Eventually, these two elders differed with him on a particular matter and the “friendship” was over. It took some of the elders years to see how they were being used.
*In still another congregation, a minister was known as being very difficult for the other ministers on staff to work with. Volunteers at the church also found him difficult. He was once asked about his stubbornness. His response was “That’s just the way I am.”
These self-inflicted wounds damage marriages, friendships, and one’s ministry with the congregation. They often reflect emotional immaturity instead of displaying emotional maturity. Such wounds may cause a ministry at a congregation to end abruptly or prematurely. The bottom line, however, is that this does not have to be this way.
Ministry is hard enough. However, self-inflicted wounds sometimes defeat a ministry that would otherwise contribute to the spread of the kingdom in that city.