A pastor must stay longer than 5 years to learn about the sweetness of tough love. Every pastor thinks he wants everyone to instantly receive him and his ministry and think those ultra-supportive church members are exactly what he wants. But I have learned that to have church members hostile to you, not receive you, and make you pursue them in love is a sweeter and more rewarding relationship when you win them. I have some incredibly supportive people in our church now, but the relationships that mean the most to me are those with whom I fought in the early years, struggled to love in any way, and yet we grew and learned how to love each other.
To be greeted every Sunday with a smile, hug, and warmth by the man who led the charge at year five to try and remove me is hard to describe and it still moves me every time. That is an evidence of God’s redemptive grace every time we see each other that I do not experience when I am greeted by my greatest supporters who have always been with me and for me. Had I left before five years which I almost did, I would have missed one of the greatest joys I now regularly experience almost thirteen years later as a pastor.
Pastors, hang in there. Hold fast. There are rewards waiting for you on the other side if you can remain steadfast and just hold on. And remember, the Chief Shepherd knows your struggles and he is with you.