Posted by: critzpastor | May 2, 2009

Life without plan B

My friend shannon asked for folks to tell their storries of times of transition when there was no plan B. Here is mine, (names and key facts have been left out. I have ministered in several states in two different denominations and one independent work).

Once upon a time, when we were in youth ministry at a church for less than a year of a 5 year commitment the Lord began to stir our hearts toward being senior pastors. We had never considered being senior pastors before, ever!. We were confused because we didn’t really think that it was time for another transition so soon. But the fact that this “stirring” was in an area of ministry we had never pursued really gave us pause. So we sought out counsel.

I attempted to contact a friend who the Lord had used in the past to help us find direction, it just so happened that he was the pastor of my parents church. So I placed a call, but I found out it was to no avail because he was out of town. So I called my parents to see if they knew when he was due to return. It was at that point that one of my parents mentioned some one else who they knew was a friend to their pastor. This gentleman was known to me, but mainly because he was in charge of church planting for our state. I made the appointment and went to meet him. I sat down and told him how my wife and I had been struggling with this unusual stirring to senior pastor. It was at that point he looked at me and asked, “Jack, do you know what I do here?” “Yes sir”, I said. “Your in charge of church planting, but that’s really not what this is about.” It was at this point that he informed me (remember you guys, youth pastors don’t always keep up on things outside of the youth ministry in general) that he was also responsible for helping the bishop find pastors for churches.

I was floored and a little embarrassed. Anyway, he suggested that I go back and tell my pastor what we felt like the Lord was telling us and ask for his prayer and advise. Neither my wife or I felt like this call was a “go now or your going to get zapped call.” Our pastor at the time was relatively new to the state he had planted a successful church in the past and now was the pastor of a good size church. So we felt like he might allow us to begin “training” of sorts and look toward a future of ministry as a senior pastor down the road as we continued the youth ministry. After all we had not been at the church long and we were not looking to go anywhere. We just had these promptings by the Lord that we couldn’t ignore nor did we fully understand.

So I left the meeting and decided to tell our pastor the next day. I mainly wanted to ask him for prayer to help us find direction in this matter. I wasn’t sure of any clear direction, but I knew we needed prayer. That was plan A. Pray! It was a good plan we thought.

Plan A blew up in my face, literally! We didn’t know how unhinged this pastor was. He yelled at me for 45 minutes straight. I’m a big guy and he had former military experience that he liked to bring up often in conversations, to the point that he kept a weapon in the office. I mention that only to explain why I say unhinged, because at one point he made a very aggressive move toward me and I had to jump up and get into a position to defend myself. It was crazy! There was no resolution at the end of the tirade. I stood there dumbfounded and amazed that a simple request like “Hey pastor I’m confused will you help me pray about something?” turned into hysterics and threats.

I dreaded work the next morning, but hoped and prayed that over the evening something would have happened to help calm things down. I was wrong. He came in and began by telling me that I had lied and mislead him when I agreed to come to the church with a 5 year commitment. He said he had “heard from God and God said I had 30 days to change my mind and never mention being a senior pastor again, or my resignation would be expected immediately!” He ranted and raved for another 30 minutes. He told me I was totally wrong, and that I had not heard from God at all. Again I reminded him that all I did was ask for him for prayer and counsel, but the days of talking were over. For the next 30 days he did not speak hardly a word to me. Oh, did I forget to mention that I was forbidden to talk to anyone in the church or outside the church about this?

Plan B, uh, there wasn’t one because I was just asking for prayer. I had no ideas or intentions beyond, “hey what does this mean? Will someone help me figure this out?”. The only thing I could do was call the gentleman I had talked to and prayed with at our state office and explain what had happened. I knew that regardless of what happened I could not continue to work with a man that was so obviously volatile and off in left field. I may have failed to mention that this pastor also believed that as the pastor God would speak to him about his staff and his congregation. If God did not confirm whatever it was with him personally then they had apparently missed God. Seriously, he had chapter and verse too!

No plan B, I was told secretly that there were possibilities of churches in the state maybe opening, but nothing definite. All we could do was pray. We did tell a few people in our church because we were scared and wanted people we loved and trusted to pray with us. But for 30 days we waited. We didn’t pack. We didn’t send out resume’s. We tried not to be bitter or under mind the pastor (luckily I had read, A tale of three kings!) At the end of the 30 days God did open a door for us to take a small church as our first pastorate. But all of that was beyond our control. And maybe, just maybe that was for the best, scary yes, absolutely, but for the best!

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