"It's your wife's fault..."
I was a pastor at a small, rural church of about 40. Their longtime pastor - a beloved man - had just died after many years at the helm.
After several months of preaching, a Deacon's Meeting was called. Pertinent questions were asked - the usual pre-selection process. I had made it clear in this meeting that I was not interested in filling the previous pastor's shoes, nor being forever in his shadow. I was interested in being God's messenger, and helping Him grow this church in a much-needed way.
The vote was unanimous. At first, the congregation was ecstatic to have a new, young preacher and his family coming on board to help shepherd their church! It was especially exciting to tell this congregation that I was "not interested in pew-dwellers, but people who were willing to further God's work". It was pure excitement. Everything was a success. There were people saved. There were baptisms. There were youth activities, parade participation, Bible school. Several new families began attending. Things were going great.
Fast forward about a year and a half. The church is stagnant. The enthusiasm is gone. I am struggling with God's direction. Do I stay? Do I go? My family is struggling right along with me. I humbly pray that God shows me what to do.
Easter Sunday...I am excited, as any pastor should be. Our youth are preparing to sing songs in a wonderful display of Easter celebration. I am running over some last minute checks when I am approached by a deacon. After a 10-minute tirade, I am accused of not allowing God to run the church, but rather, furthering the decisions of my wife! My changes are not appreciated. I'm not doing it the way "we used to do it". I am a gossipper, a slanderer, and a troublemaker. It is made clear that I need to go back where I came from.
I had arrived early at church that day. When my wife arrived later, the look on my face told her all she needed to know. Tearfully, I sat before the congregation on Easter Sunday - explaining that I simply no longer had the strength to stand - and resigned. Some left, some smiled, and others sat in shocked silence. Many asked if it was something they had said or done. My explanation was simple: I had asked God for an answer, and He had answered loudly and clearly.
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