Summary: Leadership is a magnet for pain and if pain is handled correctly it leads to spiritual growth and maturity.
FCA Connect meeting “Lead Pastors” - May 11, 2021
Topic: Leadership pain – the school of personal growth and ministry growth!
I heard a song a few weeks back listening to IHOP Kansas City and praying and a spontaneous song broke out that said “Pain is the school to growth – growth is the lesson of pain” – But this is why it’s called “Growing pains.” I laughed as I was praying and listening to this song – I thought how true and then reflected on this leadership discussion I was leading for the FCA today.
I wonder how many FCA pastors have been dealing with leadership pain factors this last year – even currently or something from the past?
I remember graduating from Bible College and being ready to save the world and not realizing the pain of leadership in front of me. I did not know “You’ll grow only to the threshold of your pain.”
My first church was in Mn a small town of about 250 people. The first year and a ½ the church grew – we started a Royal Rangers/Missionettes program which had around 40 kids in it (prior they only had a few kids in their kids programs), I approached the public school about releasing to us grades k-6th grade to us on Fridays for Release time for 2 hours – they agreed we had over a 60-70 kids – we were teaching the kids Bible and things were off to a great start. But then leadership pain hit at about 1 ½ year mark – at the time I did not understand that pain could and would lead to spiritual growth and ministry growth. I did not realize pain came with leading.
As I was leading my first church – seeing so much fruit – others on the leadership team saw my flaws – so a meeting was called by an Elder and Deacon his wife (both on the board) and I came into the meeting thinking they are going to tell how great everything is going – but instead they produced a yellow legal pad filled with over 100 things that were wrong with my leadership and my pastoral ministry! I was blown away – stunned – in shock– as I was starring at the yellow pad filled with my faults numbered 1-100 – I was thinking this is not how leadership is supposed to go! This hurts!
Here were some of my faults if you were wondering: I was criticized for having the heat to warm in the parsonage – I was criticized for not appeasing all the people in the church by making them happy – For example: I was not posting in the paper when I preached on tithing so those who disagreed with it could stay home. I was wrong for not telling the newspaper all the people we had over at our house for dinner – I was to Holy Spirit minded and offending people who do not believe in the Holy Spirit – I was too busy doing the other young ministries and not focusing enough on the older people! The list went on and on – so I looked at the leadership and I quit.
Over the next few month’s as I transitioned out these leaders quit the church and split it in ½ focusing over the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and they even started their own church in a town of 250? I ended heading to a Bible Camp and about 15 years later the church closed. The pastor they brought in to start their church whose name was we will say “Mike” too – he called me at Bible Camp one day to say Mike – “I am having a problem with a few of your former leaders!” – He said, “They came in with a yellow legal pad with over a 100 things wrong with my leadership – it really hurt!” – I empathized with him and shared my story of leadership pain with him – I also smiled inside but the pain was real – so I shared with him how this pain will lead you to spiritual growth and even ministry growth – I told him pain comes with leadership. This couple - who split the church and the other church but eventually moved to another city after his wife came down with Cancer – He called me about 5 years later to apologize to me for what they had done – he hoped his apology would help his wife be healed!
When pain overwhelms us how do we respond to it or even look at it? 2020 was a year of pain for many people – many ministries, pastors, ministers, missionaries and families. For some Christians there is a common myth out there that we should be immune to pain and suffering. They actually believe God should shield them from pain! So when pain comes some blame God – blame others or actually become numb to the pain and then they withdraw.