My first crack at shepherding a congregation came during seminary days when a group of twenty families, ranchers and farmers living on the Kansas-Colorado border, offered a parsonage and a small paycheck if I would be their pulpit-guy. My wife, Gail, and I enthusiastically entered the rural culture to serve the people. They taught us much, and we loved them in return.
A few months into this experience, the deacons convened a meeting to resolve a business issue. I can't remember the subject matter, but I do recall that people I really cared for began to say things to each other that left Gail and me devastated. It was like being parents of children fighting in the back seat. It sounds prideful, but we couldn't believe that people under our ministry influence could act so unpleasantly.
After the meeting, a women approached Gail and me to say, "Now you know who we really are. And some day you'll be just like us."
Gail responded, "No! We'll never allow ourselves to become like that." A bold assertion, ...1