Have you ever felt unwanted? I experienced this trauma firsthand! I finished college, Seminary, graduated with a Master's Degree, and have served Southern Baptist Churches in four states. God graciously allowed me to serve large churches with large Music Ministries.
After years of training, service, and faithfully doing what God called me to do, a pastoral transition led to my trial. One pastor left, another pastor came and my trial began.
During the transition between these pastors my wife and I decided we would stand in the Pastoral gap - as the long-term Minister of Music - and go beyond the call of duty. I went to everything the church had that year and represented the pastoral staff. The Pastor search committee was formed and the chairman would get up in the pulpit and give a "report" on a regular basis. In his report he praised the current staff and said “we have the best staff the church has ever had. We are looking for a pastor that will come and work alongside this staff. Those words were comforting.
The search committee told prospective pastors the opposite. When the new Pastor arrived he never commented on the music. After he arrived, I asked his opinion of the music. He had no comment. To make a long story short, it was on his radar to get rid of me ASAP. He moved me to a lesser position that was out of music. He also cut my salary in HALF. I could come and go as I pleased, He could care less and the message was loud and clear. I went to him and told him I knew "the drill." I asked him to please let me go and give me a severance package. I told him I would slip out. He said “NO you go to the new position.”
Thankfully another church came calling right away. In two months I submitted my resignation to leave the beloved church and congregation I had faithfully served for so long. We started with 15 in the choir and had built to 75-85 each Sunday with a full orchestra. None of this mattered. The members of the Pastor Search Committee began acting "sheepish" around me. They knew what was coming....but none had the courage to step up and say a word.
We were OUT and went to another church 1.5 hours away. This church was half the size and half the salary. However, I felt “needed” again. I was reminded that some new preacher may not want me but that did not diminish my CALLING. I was still God Called. The new church responded with growth, acceptance, and love. The church noticed and gave me a promotion. Wow!
It was humiliating losing family income plus being released after faithfully serving 25 years. God knew! We trusted, prayed, and called on Him. He provided! My wife's sister called and said she was getting a new car and wanted to give my wife her old car. We sold our car and lived off that income for several months. People from our former church would shake hands and leave large amounts of cash in my hand. These blessings saw us through. I've told others, “money would drop out of the sky as God was meeting our every need.” Our house had been on the market for over a year. We eventually lost our home in a foreclosure. A great new friend and real-estate person in the new church showed us a new house. This house had just become available for rent, and it was perfect. God was working, walking alongside us all the way.
In addition to the painful church experience I lost two family members in one day. My sister and brother in law came home because my father was dying of pancreatic cancer. My brother in law (unexpectedly) died in his sleep about four hours before my dad. I mourned the loss of a church and two loved ones, all at the same time.
Our best friends, from the church we left, never stepped up on our behalf. They seemed to "look the other way" and stopped communicating. BETRAYAL was the hardest thing to overcome. The pastor search committee’s betrayal was almost more than we could take. I never got to the point where I gave up on God but I did question HIM greatly.
The grief caused by the pain, disappointment, and feelings of betrayal would wash over us like a wave at the most unusual times. It has been a year now. Two Sundays ago a couple came up to us. He was a- music minister from another state. They introduced themselves and shared how much they enjoyed the worship service. They told us they had been fired by a young new pastor two weeks prior without any warning and told to get out. I said "welcome to our church and our story.” I invited them to lunch. I told them “you don't know why you chose this church today but I can guarantee you, GOD KNEW." Tears flowed from their eyes as we shared our story while listening to theirs over lunch.
God is AMAZING. HE can be trusted! I am still Praising My Savior, all the day long!