Over the years of my pastoral ministry, I can still remember several church members who did or said something that just plain made me mad. Looking back now with a bit more perspective, though, I realize I learned something in the process. To protect the innocent (and the guilty), I’ve categorized these members rather than name them:
1. Brother “You’re still young, pastor.” I was sure I knew all I needed to know to pastor well, and he thought I was still so young (20 years old) that I wasn’t nearly as smart as I thought I was. He was right. I was WAY wrong.
2. Brother “You shouldn’t be counseling.” He was an older member, and his honest concern was that I shouldn’t be doing marriage counseling because I was a single adult at the time. I don’t think I was wrong to counsel, but he was right that I had a lot to learn after I did get married.
3. Sister “I’m leaving the church if you don’t ______.” You fill in the blank, and you’ll probably be right. She was angry at almost everything. What she taught me is that the church has some miserable people—and I need to pray for them rather than let them get under my skin.
4. Sister “You need to straighten out my son.” Her son did, in fact, need straightening out, but I thought it was more her job than mine. I learned from her, though, that some parents really don’t know what to do with a wayward child.
5. Brother “My theological system is the only right one.” What his system was doesn’t matter for this post; what matters is that he showed me that (a) some people in my church didn’t believe exactly like I did as their young pastor, and (b) some had actually given great thought to their system. We differed, but I respected this man.
6. Brother “Pastor Chuck never got to Jesus.” This brother was publicly sharing his conversion testimony, and he pointed out that I first told him all about the church, but nothing about Jesus. I was both angry he said it and mortified he had a reason to say it. He taught me a big lesson about witnessing that day.
7. Sister “You know, don’t you…?” She apparently knew everything in the church—or at least she was trying to find out everything. I learned from her to be careful in what I share as a pastor. Some people use information as a weapon or a badge.
8. Brother “I’m trying to reach them by living like them.” So-called evangelism was his excuse for his continually sinful lifestyle choices. From him, I discovered that lost people were on the church roll.
Sometimes we learn the hard way. What church members who taught you something would you add to this list?