It was not that long ago that this congregation was without a full time preacher. As such, I am certain most of you can remember what it was like to not have a full time preacher doing the work of an evangelist. I want you to consider that when you read this article and now ask yourself, why do you want a preacher in the pulpit? Perhaps you want a preacher because you were one of the men that filled in while there was no full time preacher here. Perhaps preparing lessons week in and week out became too much and you needed a break. So, you wanted a full time preacher to take the load. Perhaps you are married to one who took on that responsibility. You saw your husband spend precious hours he was home in the good book preparing another sermon. Perhaps you felt that it was needed so that you could “have your husband back.” Perhaps you wanted continuity. You wanted the same type of teaching and preaching in the pulpit. Perhaps you didn’t like the way things bounced around from Sunday to Sunday. Perhaps you wanted a full time preacher to return things to “normal.” Perhaps you wanted someone to be a friend to you. Maybe the congregation is filled with strangers to you and you were hoping the new preacher and his family would become your new best friend. Or, perhaps what you really wanted was to keep things the way they were. Maybe you didn’t want a full time preacher. (I don’t deny some would prefer not to have a full time preacher working with a church because of the financial strain it puts upon a congregation). I write this because brother Divis stirred some things up in me. During the meeting he often talked about the hardships preachers and preacher wives (and their children) go through. Why do preachers go through these hardships? Why is it that a church is super excited about getting this new man to come and work with them, at some point after his arrival this excitement goes away? And I know that it does. During my 1st work the excitement lasted for a good while. After about 1.5 years that excitement began to wear off. I think it was caused by the fact that the church was hit with the reality that they couldn’t afford to have a full time preacher. They had to cut my salary by 1/3 (only to find out that a few months later that it had to drop even more). In my second work, the “new preacher feeling” wore off during a gospel meeting that went awry. The preacher, whom I had suggested we bring in, preached some things the saints didn’t agree with (even I was shocked by something he preached on) and from that moment onward I was not viewed as a friend, but as an antagonist. My third work lost its “new preacher feeling” rather quickly. The point in this is that the honeymoon period does eventually end. When it does the attitude towards the preacher often changes. Perhaps we no longer view his sermons as insightful, but vindictive. We usually are no longer willing to overlook that “annoying preacher habit” we once thought was neat. We no longer invite him or his family over. We get used to having him around and take him for granted. Of course, the relationship could go the other way. Maybe the honeymoon period ended because the preacher changed. Maybe he is being a bit vindictive in the pulpit. Maybe he isn’t inviting people over anymore. Maybe he is the one who has become distant and reclusive. I realize that the bible does not use marriage terminology to describe a relationship between the preacher and the local saints, but in may ways we are like a marriage. We enter into a covenant relationship with one another. We have certain expectations of services to be rendered from both parties. We have a great deal of admiration and respect one for another. And then, we actually begin dwelling together and with time, those things can be forgotten. We see the flaws of one another and next thing you know, the relationship is soured and the preacher moves on and both start the process of courting a new relationship all over again. We need to remember what it is that we wanted to work together in the 1st place. I shouldn’t lose sight about what made this place so intriguing to me to begin with. I should remember the kindness, the charity, the devotion that you should me nearly 5 years ago. And whatever it was that I had you liked, don’t lose sight of it. Hold on to those things so that when you feel frustrated you remember the love you once felt. Furthermore, I would add that we both need to be certain that we continue to cultivate this relationship. Just because we “won” each other doesn’t mean we should quit doing what we did to “win” the other over. In fact, it means the opposite. We should still be doing those things that helped us to build our relationship in the 1st place.
Grinnell church of Christ
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