By David Brumbelow
Christian Action League
July 12, 2022
When you are anticipating your soon resignation or retirement as pastor, you may get a bitter urge for revenge. Some pastors begin adding up all the slights and unjust things they have suffered during their pastorate. People, even Christian ones, can be mean, critical, unthoughtful, unfair.
These thoughts may even be absolutely true. Though you may have magnified them a bit. When a person is hurt or upset or struggling, the pastor is sometimes the one on which they unload their frustrations. You’ve taken a lot. And you’ve not been compensated for it.
So, now is the time to get them back. “On my last worship service, I’ll tell them just what I think about them. I’m going to get even. I may even get ahead! Now is my chance to tell them how sorry they’ve treated me and my family. I’m going to tell them what lowlifes they really are. They don’t pay me enough to put up with this. After all, what can they do? This will be my last Sunday at this poor excuse for a church.”
You may want to write it down. Make an official handwritten record of all the junk you’ve suffered and put up with in this church. Take some time to document it on paper. Name names. Use bold print, underline, and add exclamation points.
Then, take this official document, this masterpiece, and shred it. Then burn the shredding.
1. Yes, you’ve taken a lot, but the ministry was never meant to be easy. Of course, some is easy, some is joyful, some is not.
2. The church members, and God, called you to pastor this church to help them, not hurt or destroy them.
3. You, of all people, should want to make the ministry of the next pastor as fruitful and joyful as possible.
4. If you start listing all the faults of the church, they may start listing all the faults of you as their pastor.
5. When Jesus was reviled, He reviled not again.
“Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” -1 Peter 2:23
6. Commit these things to the Lord. If you really believe in the One whom you preach, will He not eventually make things right in the end?
7. Don’t end some of the wonderful past and long-term relationships you’ve made at that church. Even though you may not be seeing them often, there are still good, solid friendships that should continue.
8. Wouldn’t you prefer the church folks think of you fondly, and with respect, instead of with hurt and disappointment?
9. Not everyone at the church offended you. If you leave on an angry note, some good, loving, young believers may be harmed. They may be seriously hindered in their spiritual lives.
10. Set a good example for your church, and your family.
11. Some things need to roll off of you like water on a duck’s back. Don’t become too sensitive. A thick skin can be a great virtue.
“Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.” -Psalm 119:165 NKJV (KJV “nothing shall offend them.”) This verse was a favorite of my mother, Bonnie Galyean Brumbelow, an outstanding pastor’s wife.
12. You’ve preached about being spiritually mature. Now is the time for you to practice it.
13. It could be some of your perceptions were wrong.
14. In spite of it all, why not leave on a good note? Love the ones who deserve your love. And even learn to love the unlovely.
15. You may have deserved a better church, but then, they may have deserved a better pastor.
16. Some of those church problems just may have had something to do with the pastor.
17. Some of those disgruntled church members may have been placed there by the Lord to help knock off some of your rough edges.
18. Get over it. There is a time to feel sorry for yourself, and a time to get over it.
19. Time will ease some of the hurt and anger you feel today. So just resign on a good note, and give yourself time to heal.
20. Make the church sorry to see you go.
21. Putting up with critics and some foolishness through the years has also allowed you to continue preaching the gospel and ministering to others. It has allowed you to continue leading boys and girls, men and women to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Graciously resigning may better allow you to continue doing so.
I understand there are extraordinary circumstances. But I’m talking about the 95-99% of situations where you should resign with graciousness.
I’ve had the opportunity to pastor three fine churches. I’ve not been the perfect pastor. Every pastor has his strengths and weaknesses. But I am proud to say I’ve left each church on a positive note. And each church has later invited me back to speak.
So pastor, if at all possible, leave on a positive note. It’s good for you. It’s good for them. It’s good for your family. It’s good for the cause of Jesus Christ.
David R. Brumbelow is a graduate of East Baptist University in Marshall, Texas, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He served as pastor of Northside Baptist Church, Highlands, and previously pastored churches in Henderson and Beeville, all in the Lone Star state. Brumbelow is also the author of Ancient Wine and the Bible: The Case for Abstinence, which Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, has said is the most comprehensive work on the question of abstinence from alcohol he has ever read.