It appeared I had jumped in over my head at my first senior pastorate. The church was bitter and broken from a soured relationship with its former pastor. He abruptly left one day, and I was hastily shuttled in. I intended to usher in healing and hope, but I underestimated the depth of congregational pain. The church was swollen, and it throbbed. Infighting was basic operating procedure. Quickly the enormous negativity engulfed me. Their pain became my pain.
I soon discovered the church had a bully—a petite, articulate, well-dressed woman bent on controlling the church like she had her household. Carrie ruled the congregation with a caustic tongue. She'd burst into a meeting, lob a few strategically placed insults and cusses, and the room belonged to her.
I became Carrie's main target. She'd tear down any idea I put forth in a meeting, talk loudly to herself during my sermons, and regularly put her car in my designated parking spot.
I kept waiting for someone to rescue me, but the members' ...1