Q: I have been a minister of religion for approximately five years now. It has not always been my desire to be a pastor as I just did not ever think to pursue a career in theology. However, I could not disobey God's calling to fulfil His purpose for my life. My tenure at the college was gruelling, heart-warming, and more educational than I would have thought. They were the best three years of my life and I could not wait to lead church members to Christ.
A month after graduation, I was sent to my first church, a very small sanctuary. The members were warm and receptive. The congregation made me feel that I was leading them to be more like Christ. I have been told that they were more disciplined with reading the scriptures and that issues were being resolved. I felt somewhat pleased with my leadership, but I knew not to get complacent and that my work was just beginning.
I was saddened when I was transferred to a slightly bigger church two years later. However, I am always more than willing to continue God's work and win more souls for Him. I spent just three short years there, and I will forever have their kind spirits with me.
I love my current church and I'm doing everything possible to attend to the needs of each member. However, I seem to be doing everything wrong in the eyes of one particular member. I just can't seem to address the issues with the individual and this person is claiming that I don't give enough one-on-one time. The individual's problem is multi-faceted, and I have spoken to the individual many times and dug as deep as I can in conversation, advising the best way I know how. This, however, has not been enough. The committee meetings which the person is a part of are turning into complaint sessions where somehow the church's issues are being labelled results of my tenure. They leave me questioning my leadership.
It has been going on for quite some time now. I had never dreamed that my pastorate would encounter problems like these. I am at a loss. I pray about it every day, but I do not know what more I can do at this point. What approach do you suggest I take with the individual and with the church?
A: Sorry to hear of your troubles at church. It is good to remember that Jesus had problems with his 12 disciples, the children of Israel complained against Moses, and Saint Paul had his detractors.
You have done well by approaching the member who has issues. You need to be firm when chairing meetings and not allow anyone to dominate the meeting. In addition, persons ought to stick to the matter being discussed, and you should not allow digressions during meetings.
You should get feedback from experienced and trusted leaders on what is the root of the problem; what faults you might have that cause an escalation; and what they would recommend as possible solutions. You will have to be mature to accept their assessment and be determined to try their suggestions. If this fails, then take it to those who are in authority in your denomination for awareness and action.
Sometimes these problems might not go away and the person becomes a thorn in your flesh. Nevertheless, you must at all times love this person and minister to that person in times of need.