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3 ways to respond when you care less

June 27, 2016 | by Christopher Harris

You don’t trust anymore. And if you do it’s with major conditions, which are often unrealistic expectations. You don’t give people access anymore. You’re in the people business, but you don’t really put much hope in humanity anymore. You have slowly transitioned from engaging in life with people, to seeing who can help you fill the next gap. The people in the pews often talk about church hurt, but often omit the hurt that Pastors and Senior Leaders experience.

Staff transitions are often expected. Members that leave come with the territory. But what’s not expected is how staff leaves or even how often they leave. What doesn’t come with the territory is when the member who is assumed to be loyal turn out to be the Judas or the individual who leaves in the unhealthiest way possible.

As the day-to-day work of the church plays out, behind the scenes there are hurt leaders who are forced to move on because they don’t have the time, energy, resources, or leadership to simply stop and process it all. They have to keep going! Sunday is coming, meetings have been scheduled, programs have been booked, home life doesn’t stop, there are budgets to meet, and the pseudo-momentum can’t be troubled. All of this is snowballing, while hearts become jaded.

Jaded in the sense that there’s still care there, but there’s less care. They could care less. They could care less when the next person to whom they pour out their hearts abandon their leadership AND take immature people (families) with them. They could care less that another minister has started slowly plotting behind their back. They could care less that important matters like branding, facility signage, social media, and staff appreciation have all become trivial. They could care less that another family in their church has gotten divorced and affected not just two families, but also created an untold amount of collateral damage. They could care less about meeting with staff or leaders or members because everyone only brings their problems to them and rarelyare genuinely concerned about HOW they are doing. They could care less that another Pastor across town is in a scandal and has to fade into the black.

Pastors, Senior Leaders, Staff – I hear you! 

Your heart is probably saying right now, that somebody else gets it.  Actually, what you may not know is that a lotof people get it! They understand, have been there, and can empathize with you. And in many other cases, they are you.

It is interesting in Matthew 13 how Jesus takes a moment to focus on the condition of hearts as he and the disciples engage in life together. The condition of a person’s heart will dictate how they receive and respond to people and circumstances and predicaments.  It also affects how they perceive and adjust to things.

Through observation, spiritual discernment, history, and reading, it becomes crystal clear to any observer of the engagement and interaction of Pastors and Senior Leadership Teams and Ministry Staffs that many are serving in ministry with jaded hearts.

Their care is becoming less. They started the journey with hearts full of compassion, energy, high expectations, hope in people, a sense of awe that God allowed them to walk in their purpose full-time, a divine sense of direction for their area of ministry, and so many other factors that caused them to be excited to serve.  None of these are misguided or unhealthy. They are necessary for ministry. But the trials and toil of ministry have caused all of these sentiments to subside and passions to wane. And these fleeting responses are very subtle. They result in discounting humanity, unauthentically praying when we say, “I’m praying for you.” They result in reading scripture as cute stories that are impossible to actually implement in real life. They result in fake smiles, deep desires to withdraw, less creativity, and stale ministry.

We look forward to seeing you next week for 3 more ways to respond when you could care less.

Christopher Harris

Christopher J. Harris, a native of Palatka, Florida, is currently Executive Pastor of Crossover Church of Tampa, Florida. He is also oversees Strategic Implementation for Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International. He's served at ministries in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Chicago. He’s an author and blogger and most recently wrote, Temporary Assignments.He's an alumnus of Florida State University, University of South Carolina, and special studies at Princeton Theological Seminary. Harris currently resides in Tampa with his wife Carmen and their children.

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