My daughter has been begging me for a garage sale for weeks. I finally gave in when she said she wanted to give all of the proceeds to missions. How on earth am I supposed to deny my precious 8 year old the opportunity to sell her toys to give the money to a great cause? We don’t even have enough for a worthy garage sale, but you better believe that I will proudly display our few tables of treasures for her sweet smile.
During the process of preparing for a garage sale, we’ve been going through the house collecting things that we no longer need. It’s an emotional process to say the least as each item forces us to decide whether it’s serving the purpose it needs to serve, or it can better serve elsewhere. Sometimes it’s because I really love that item, but it’s no longer practical or useful in my home. Sometimes it’s because I don’t even appreciate the item, but there is a sentimental attachment to it that is unbreakable.
I see a similar trend that plays out in many pastors with whom we have crossed paths. As a whole, lots of pastors try to hold on to people in their churches, for a variety of reasons, at any cost. They look at people they love and cannot handle the idea of letting go. As a shepherd of a flock, this is both a strength and a weakness. Of course we should love each and every sheep, but sometimes love is holding on and sometimes love is letting go.
Sometimes pastors hold talented and called people too tightly and are gripped with fear by the idea that God may call them somewhere else. How would I do my ministry without them?!?! Rather than dreaming for the BEST for their team, they hope that they only become the best while serving within the context of their church.
Sometimes pastors put up with division, bad attitudes, and negativity because they so desperately want to avoid rocking the boat. For attendance, financial, or relational reasons they allow the inappropriate voices to have a place in their church.
I think one of the most difficult and necessary steps to a healthy church is that we, as pastors, must love people enough to LET them go (and in some cases, help them on their way). When they have a dream from God, we should swing wide the doors of our church and fill their pockets with financial blessings on the way out. When they have a negative voice, we should rebuke and correct as the Bible instructs, without fear of whether they stay or go. As a good friend of mine once said, “Their negativity is costing you more than their tithe is giving you.”
Bottom line: Pastoring takes guts. Guts to throw 100% of your heart at people that are not yours to keep. It is our job to understand releasing people with blessing and growing people without fear. Good luck.