Several years ago, a church member I couldn't please was on the phone. "I want you to know," he said, "I have no problem with what you are trying to do, but … "
His criticism wasn't any worse than usual—the Sunday evening service "was dull"—but it hit me at a bad time. Earlier that week I had waded through a 15-page epistle correcting my view of baptism. The previous Sunday, tension had crackled over approval of the church budget.
I was tired of it. I came home defeated, telling God and my wife, "I have to do something else with my life!" The next day I took my first mental-health day. I went to the library and researched a doctor of ministry program in marriage-and-family counseling. In short order, I enrolled with the intention of changing careers.
I was through with the pastorate.
As part of the requirements for the program, I had to reflect on relationship patterns in my family of origin and in my marriage. I discovered I was a "conflict avoider." Around angry people, ...1