It took me 11 years until my first thought after Sunday service was not about each individual who was absent. In year 13, sometimes I lapse back into wondering why Peter or Juan or Jazmine or the 32 other congregants that made my “my wanted list” missed the weekend services.
When they leave the church, that stings. Like a breakup, except they rarely tell you why. They rarely tell you anything. They just slip into the night. And it is hard to talk about. And who would I tell?
“Pastor, you absolutely cannot be bitter. You cannot speak with slight of those that leave or those that slander you or your wife or the church. We need you. We need you to be better. We need you to be above. We can all vent but not you. You’re our pastor. Set the example. Be the standard. We look to you. Don’t show us humanity, show us divinity.” That’s the response I got when I, in a private conversation shared my hurt feelings about some dear members that painfully left the church. And in truth, I received the rebuke.
So, what will I do? What will I do with the bottled-up frustration? I have found the solution. I smile. I wake up early. I spend time with my Savior Jesus Christ. I vent to Him. “God, I feel hurt and disappointed,” I can almost see Him, see Him smirk with a companion’s nod. I can almost hear Him say; “Oh yeah, I get that, Me too.”
“God, I love these people.”
“Oh yeah, I love them quite a bit more than you.”
“God, I’m disappointed they did not come to Your house of worship today.”
“Oh your disappointed? It was my house. It was my service. it’s my appointments. It’s all mine.” That’s true. It helps me to think of how He feels. It helps me to remember the early days, the days when no one missed because hardly anyone came. For every person that can hurt me I will be thankful, because it’s hardest when there is no people.
Pastors that love with a disappoint-able heart, an open heart, a hurtable heart get a glimpse into what it is to “share in Christ sufferings.” It is a high privilege to be a preacher of the gospel. To hold the door open. To be a Harold. My loyalty is first to my King. I am satisfied to serve Him. It is a joy. I mean it, a pure joy to pastor, I love it. No hurt or pain will taint that.