In a previous post, The Best Day of the Week to Fire Your Preacher, I told of the way my dismissal was mishandled. There is certainly a better way and a better time to tell a preacher he needs to leave.
But the elder who did this wasn’t a vicious man. He was a gentle man. He didn’t enjoy what he did that day. He had only served as an elder six months. He was influenced by a small group of discontented people. He didn’t come up with the the idea to advise me to leave.
For seven or eight years after the painful day, I felt I was the victim. He did everything wrong. I did everything right. I couldn’t help it.
Then I started thinking. Why would people ask him to ask me to leave? Why didn’t they talk to me? Why was I so surprised? The idea of resigning, as he suggested, never entered my mind. I loved the people in that congregation. The church had grown every year since I came. We enjoyed the community. I planned to go to heaven from Madisonville, Kentucky.
Why were people upset?The reason people do what they do is because they believe it is the right thing to do. Click To Tweet
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2, NKJV).
What Did I Do to Give People Reason to Be Upset?
1. I didn’t handle anger well. I worked hard. I expected perfection from myself and others. Others and myself didn’t do everything right. I was frustrated. About every six to nine months, I preached a “mad” sermon. I thought I was “preaching the truth without fear or favor.” However, I was venting my own frustration. I can hear it now in my memory. There was certainty and disdain as I told the brethren how they needed to repent and do better.
2. I feared, avoided, and ran from any criticism. I thought if anyone criticized me I might be fired. The solution was never hear criticism. Years later, I was told by a counselor, “If you will communicate continually you don’t want criticism, not many will criticize you…until they get ready to fire you.” He was on target.
When I won’t allow others to tell where I’m missing expectations, there’s no way to relieve the pressure and natural differences. One day, after I had been told to resign and was already looking for a church where brethren would appreciate a great preacher, a sister came to see me. She said, “Jerrie, you talk like you’re better than everybody else. You talk down to people. You talk like you’re right and everybody else is wrong.”
My reply, “Why, I don’t do that! I don’t think I’m better than everyone else. You’re wrong.” It took years to recount more objectively the conversation and understand I did exactly what she said I was doing.
3. I didn’t have a trusted friend, mentor, or counselor who might have helped me deal with my anger, and evaluate perceived, actual, or needed criticism. I had fears of what others thought but I was afraid to give them permission to tell me. I didn’t know or trust anyone to help sort through my doubts, lack of knowledge, and frustrations.
One of my helpful prayers is:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24).
If I can’t find a way to improve a painful event, I am a victim and will be hurt again by the next person who wants to hurt me.