Several years ago when I was a young, inexperienced youth pastor I parted ways with a pastor I had been working with. I was young and single and learning the fine art of being a pastor. He took me under his wing and gave me an opportunity to be a pastor to the youth in his church.
I did my best and thought things were going reasonably well for the first few months. But it began to become apparent that he was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. He began to try and help me become what he desired in a youth pastor.
I began to feel that he was disappointed in me. I knew he was when he began inviting me in to his office for ‘little talks’.
Little quirks and habits of mine were getting on his nerves. I was not very polished or professional in my demeanour.
One day he sat me down and said, “I don’t think you have what it takes to be in ministry. If you ever thought about doing something else, you should.”
Needless to say, I moved on shortly after that to a long, healthy youth pastorate.
But what about the things that had come between us? What about the hurtful things he had said to me? What about the ways that I let him down?
Fortunately, God gave me grace to overcome the momentary hurt and carry on with the leading of God in my life. I realized that he was partly wrong about me and had a different viewpoint on what ministry is. I was fortunate to have come through the experience without any bitterness. Anger and disappointment accompanied my sense of failure, but I never lost sight of the goodness of that man and the work of God going on his life.
Most of the youth pastors that followed me in that place, experienced similar experiences and departures. Some of them did not cope as well. Some left the ministry for good.
Many years later, I sit on district committees with the same man and even played golf with him, a sport he excels at. It’s a game that I have no interest in.
How is it that I can feel safe around him and even be friendly toward him after the things I experienced?