How to Destroy Your Pastor
Image: Katie Landry/Flickr

Over the past 15 years of pastoral ministry, I have contemplated quitting at least 3 times. The first time was when I had to dedicate a tiny baby who had passed away after being born three months premature. The second was when my wife was diagnosed with cancer, which I describe in great detail in my book. But the time I most seriously considered quitting took place in the living room of a church member.

He and I had been in almost constant conflict over the course of two years. I was at his house to try to figure out what the problem was, and how we might fix it. With my head in my hands, I poured out my heart to this man I considered my brother in Christ, sharing all the woes and fears that I had faced that year: the break-ins at my home, my wife’s cancer diagnosis, our meager attendance at church. My voice choked with emotion, I confessed to him, “I really could use a break, you know?”

He looked at me, and with a flat voice dripping with contempt, muttered, “You are just so . . . emotional.”

Speechless, I stared at him. I realized then that he didn’t see me as I saw him, as a brother in Christ. I was his enemy, worthy only of his derision, not his compassion. As he met my stare with a stony one of his own, I pledged to myself, “That’s it. I quit.” For months and even years after this experience, I struggled to comprehend why this man viewed me with such disdain. The only thing that I could discern was that his entire small group seemed to collectively hold a pretty dim view of me as their pastor.

For a long time afterwards, I thought that my experience was unique. But as I spoke with other pastors, I realized that this narrative was an altogether common one. ...

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Third Culture
Third Culture looks at matters of faith from the multicultural and minority perspective.
Peter Chin
Peter W. Chin is the pastor of Rainier Avenue Church and author of Blindsided By God. His advocacy work for racial reconciliation has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR, and the Washington Post.
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