Note: In our pursuit of understanding some of the pains that can come along with ministry, a former youth pastor (now serving at another church in a different kind of staff position) shared this story with us. We have changed the names and some details for the privacy of all involved. We will publish this story in two or three installments. The real “Brad” told us to publish this because “if it helps just one person, it will be worth it.” So, please, if you do find Brad’s story helpful, let us know and we will pass the message along to him.
Brad, Andrea and the kids drove off on the long trip to Brad’s new call: youth pastor in another state.
Andrea felt anxious, upset: she really didn’t want to be a youth pastor’s wife; certainly not one of those clergy couples that moved every two years or so. They talked it through, though, and she agreed to go.
Still, Brad struggled with the decision to completely uproot his family, even selling his home to move far away and start in a new ministry position.
Somehow, though, he believed God would bless this step of obedience.
Two years later, things seemed to be going just fine. At Brad’s annual review, the Board told him, “You’re doing a great job. We love having you here.”
It’s funny sometimes how only a few weeks change things.
A leading family left the church and pulled their kids out of the youth group. They let it be known they weren’t happy with Brad’s ministry.
The senior pastor called Brad on his day off.
“Brad, I need to see you in my office. Today.”
Pastor made the talk short and sweet, “Brad, the church has realized you’re not really called to pastoring youth. We’ve decided to put you in charge of visitation and some other things instead. Unfortunately, though, it will not be a paid position.”
Just like that, with no warning, the senior pastor fired him with, as Brad viewed it, no adequate justification. Even more than that, though, it felt like an attack on his identity. He was not called to be a youth pastor? Brad loved the young people!
Brad and Andrea, devastated and crushed with disappointment, soon did the necessary to survive: they found jobs back where they came from and returned to their home church.
Several years later, Brad related his story to me (through an email and a phone interview with my husband, Bud).
Today, he and Andrea have worked through the anger and bitterness they once felt. Their marriage strong, they work together in a thriving ministry. Emotionally, they say, they are in the best place of their lives.
They see God’s hand both in the events that occurred and in the healing that followed.
We don’t have space here to complete the story of their journey. However, in next week’s blog, I will share details of how God worked in Brad and Andrea through this situation to guide them to a place of prosperous ministry and deeper joy.
You may be surprised by some of the things they learned.
For now, know that Brad says to any who are hurting as he once did, “God is faithful”.