Being a pastor is a little like a marriage. It is not a job, it is a lifestyle. There is certainly work aspects to it. Things you need to do. There are moments of boredom, frustration and just plain hard work. There are also moments of spiritual exultation, ecstasy and joy.
It can be intoxicating, invigorating and infuriating, all in the same day.
Yet it is a call. For as far removed as the contemporary pastor may be from their first century counterpart, ultimately most pastors don’t do it for the pay, conditions or perks. Its all about God’s call. In my view, there are far easier and less responsible ways to make a living.
What is a pastor to do when they say goodbye to the church they have loved, cared for, prayed for and agonised over? Thankfully this is not something I have had to think about, and have no desire to need to deal with for the next decade or two.
But recent events involving prominent pastors have prompted within me this thought. How does a pastor say goodbye?
Can I suggest they keep it brief. The reality is that it is about the church. It is always about the church. It has never been and never should be about them. If they leave well, celebrate. And then say goodbye. If they leave badly, grieve, and then say goodbye.
Seeing some prominent pastors splash their grief, repentance, desire to start something new all over their not inconsiderable social media following makes me wonder. Who is this about? Them? Or the church?
I can’t answer the question when is it too soon to come back from a moral failure. It seems far too complex to be prescriptive to any one formula. Every situation truly is different.
But say goodbye. Move on. Allow the church to move on. It was never about you. Even when it was.