We have a young man who had just been affirmed for pastoral ministry in our church. He recently came to the final stage to become the pastor of another local church. He went to preach in view of call, which appeared as a formality to most of us since the church had responded so positively to him and his family. To our amazement, the church vote was not high enough to call him to be pastor. This became a very painful experience, especially since this family had grown to love the people of that church. How do you shepherd that young man and his family through that experience?
Exhort them to trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness. It is one thing to believe that God is sovereign in difficulty, but trusting God is good in the midst of it is much more difficult. Yet, we must remind those who walk through this rejection that the Lord is in control. He could be wanting to teach that aspiring pastor something. He could be sparing that young man from a nightmare of a church situation he is unaware of. He could be wanting to teach that church a tough lesson. Regardless, we must remind them that God is both sovereign and good in the midst of it.
Encourage him and his wife to grieve. This couple had already made some sacrifices and plans so they would be able to go and minister at this church. His pastoral gifts and their love for people had already caused them to grow to love these people and look to become their shepherd. That was taken from them. Not only was it taken suddenly, but there is a sense of hurt that these people they grew to love maybe did not love them as they thought. There is a sadness and brokenness that is good and healthy for them to experience to help them grieve over this perceived betrayal. Much like when we lose a loved one, grieving is part of the process. In a similar way, it needs to be for them.
Affirm his gifts even more. This rejection can lead to many fears and doubts, one being the personal questioning of his own gifts and calling. However, as his pastor and sending church, it is imperative that we affirm his gifts for pastoral ministry even more. This only revealed this was not the Lord’s will for them, not that his gifts are to be called into question. Especially, when he is one of the most gifted brothers for ministry that has come through our church.
The Lord is sovereign, good and is at work, even when he is rejected at the last minute. You know it. I know it. But does the rejected pastor and his family? Care for that family so that they realize it. To quote an older mentor to us both after hearing the news of the vote he said very wisely, “Well, take a deep breath and by faith breathe a sight of relief.”