Pastor, You Feel Unsafe Because You Are

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A friend asked me if I’d be willing to spend time with his young pastor.

We shared a meal and talked about church. The more the young pastor talked the more uneasy I felt. I’ve learned over the years to identify that uneasiness as the Spirit compelling me to speak up.

“How’s your leadership team? Is there unity? Do they feel valued, and do you feel safe?”

Those aren’t difficult questions to answer, but they are questions successful and hard-driving pastors and church leaders are seldom asked.

Until they meet me. I could care less about their vision or strategies. I want to know the health of their leadership team. 

The young man tried to assure me that all was good…except for some small strains between him and some staff members. Oh, and a few of the wives didn’t seem to care for one another. And then there was the denominational supervisor who had great influence in his church and was quick to let everyone know when the new guy was leading the church in a “dangerous” direction.

“But,” his eyes looked off at the back wall, “I’d say I feel pretty safe.”

My answer surprised him: “You’re not safe, my friend. If you don’t address these issues today it’s not going to get better. It’s going to get worse. And then, suddenly, you’ll be through.”

I begged him to let me in, to give me an opportunity to at least try to bring the health Jesus can bring to a leadership team when they’re willing to do the hard work of building trusting relationships.

I flew home without hearing more from him or about him.

Until some brokenhearted members of his church told me he had resigned.

His resignation letter looked suspiciously like a masterpiece crafted by his enemies. Apparently he was the only one to blame in this mess that I’m sure caused tears in heaven and on earth.

As I read the letter I wept. You could smell the politics and behind the scenes power plays.

So there you go.

Another fractured leader.

Another wounded church.

And more everyday Christians left out of the process and wondering if it’s worth it to go to church.

This dear young pastor’s tragic mistake was thinking that he could fix the leadership problems in his church on his own.

That’s not the way it goes.

If you’re a leader feeling unsafe due to the backwash of disunity and politics, please let me in.

You feel unsafe because you are.

It’s what I do, and you can’t do it alone.

Let us help.