Pain in Pastoral Ministry
Last year Karl Vaters wrote a thougtful article on the pain pastors experience when people leave their church. Vaters writes specifically on behalf of pastors of small churches. I have pastored a small church. In a small church a pastor is more likely to know the members of his church. He's been with them in their joys and sorrows. He has worked hard to preach faithfully week after week as God has commanded. He has labored over their souls in prayer. These are blessed labors for the faithful pastor. He is grateful for the priviledge of being entrusted with such a precious stewardship. But these blessings are at least part of the reason it is so painful when members leave. Because problems or failings in a church are generally attributed to the pastor, he cannot seem to escape the gnawing feelings of shame and failure when members leave.
If you are a pastor I don't know of any easy answers to the pain when those you have invested in break fellowship with you. People will complain about your preaching, your lack of empathy, your lack of courage, your excessive boldness, that you're too political or not political enough, that your car is too new, that you failed to notice them at the store, etc. It is simply part of the calling.
Last year I wrote a series of posts on a different but related subject: battered pastors. The MOS team also recorded an episode on the topic. You can find the posts and the podcast HERE.