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About to quit - needed to vent a bit and ask for an outside opinion

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  • About to quit - needed to vent a bit and ask for an outside opinion

    So I've come to quite a crossroads in my ministry life, and its a sad one with a tough decision ahead of me. I wanted to come here for some outside input, since I'm still undecided how to proceed. Just a warning, this will be lengthy.

    I've been the Worship Leader and Music Director for a Local Brooklyn Church for about 3 years, a member for 7. We've had our ups and downs, as usual in any music ministry, but those who were called to remain, remained. We were never a large group, never more than 10 ppl at one time.

    Cut to the beginning of this year and the pianist+drummer and her family decide to leave due to a constant power struggle and inability to submit to authority. So it just me (guitarist) and the choir of 7 people left, when the Pastor's son and his kids show up to save the day and join us. I'm ecstatic since the Pastor's son, we'll call him Robert, used to have a recording studio and was very skilled with many instruments.

    Things start off great, but a divorce in Robert's marriage causes him to start to miss services and cancel last minute frequently, which I completely understand. While it was frustrating for me at times, I completely understood the difficulty of going through a divorce, having had my parents split 5-6 years ago. Throughout this whole ordeal I am in constant communication with him assuring him to not feel bad, that I understood, and to encourage him.

    I've always wanted to improve the quality of the worship service, by bettering the quality of music and giving skillful worship to the Lord. I thought with Robert it would be achievable, but it was obvious this was not going to work out in the long-term.

    I acquire Reason 5 and my mind is blown with the possibilities that are open to us now. I start to make backing tracks to accompany the group and my lonely guitar for the worship services and it working great. In the beginning of last month the elders in the ministry decide to make a concert/banquet to raise funds at the end of the month and ask us to prepare. Riding solo for about a month, I reach out to Robert and ask if he would like to work with us, which he says yes. But the whole month goes by and he does not respond to my messages, so I decide to prepare as I always did, as if i were the only instrumentalist, and make backing tracks covering the drums and and piano. In the middle of the week leading up to the concert he contacts me and apologizes for being dark and would like to help in the concert. So i send him the backing tracks and music sheets and ask them to practice.

    The concert is here, and we've all been practicing the 11 song set that was selected. We begin to practice, but they are all over the place. They don't know the rhythms, the changes in the songs, its a train wreck. And the choir is complaining that cant follow the music, and we're only up to song 3 of 11 with 30 minutes left. So I make the decision to ask them to sit down and use the backing tracks. I ask the group to take a 5 minute break and ask Robert and his sons to side, and said I apologize but this just isn't working out, we have 30 minutes left and we're not even getting close to covering the songs in time. They understand and sit down with no problem. We continue to have a successful practice and a great concert. But Robert and the kids have disappeared, and the Pastor is wondering what happened that they didn't play. I go on to explain, and he begins to sound upset at hearing what I did (which was made worse by the fact that he did not come home that night).

    He tells me, the Pastor, that the weekend before Robert had quit the ministry completely, that he had given up on everything including his kids and family since he was so distraught (still understandably affected by the divorce). I am completely in the dark about all of this, because although I was constantly sending messages, he never opened up to me, and no one ever told me about how fragile he actually was. The day after (on Sunday), before the service the Pastor calls the group up and says that hes decided to sit the whole group down indefinitely because of my decision the day before. He does explain hes upset and that hes not himself and out of it at the moment, but that he doesn't want anyone to be up there right now.

    I understand where the Pastor is coming from, but from our conversations it obvious he sees me guilty for adding the "last straw that broke the camels back". In hindsight had I known about how fragile Robert was, I probably would've made a different decision. But knowing what I did at the time, I don't accept any guilt for my decision. I believe I made the best decision for the group, and with 30 minutes left before the concert, we didn't have many alternatives.

    I've made a decision that once things have died down a bit, and to not pile it on the Pastor right after possibly loosing his son and grand kids, to step down as Music Director and Worship Leader. My wife does not agree with my decision, reminding me that the Lord's calling is irrevocable. I feel a passion for the Music Ministry, but with this situation and the possibility of this happening again, I don't believe its working out. Robert has always had a rep of being very flaky, its to say he would promise alot, then not show up or come through. He's always been like this. Another reason, I'll admit this one to be a bit selfish, was that I work a night job so that I can watch after my 2 children during the day, which automatically deprives me of sleep to start. But I worked at least 4 hours a day that month on those backing tracks to make the concert something the Lord could be proud of in our effort. I worked so hard and this is what I'm re-payed with. I am hurt personally, but I feel like my time as the leader here has come to an end.

    TL;DR (FYI - TL;DR means Too long; didn't read):

    Music Director for 3 years, solo instrumentalist since 2012, pastors son comes and joins, but due to personal problems is unable to be constant. I chose backing track over pastors son for concert since they did not practice. Group is sit down indefinitely and Pastors see me guilty for their sons decision to leave the ministry. I've decided to step down a leader.

    Sorry for the long post I tried to format it so it was easy on the eyes. Basically I want know what you guys/gals think about my decision to leave. Am I running way, or making the best choice for the situation at hand? Thanks for your feedback.

    Sad and Confused,
    Jon
    Last edited by NathanLuna87; 06-04-2012, 12:31 PM.

  • #2
    Brother, it sounds like your team and your church are under attack.

    Short answer- don't quit unless you feel at peace about it through prayer and seeking. God's calling is irrevocable, but that doesn't mean He won't move you around.

    As far as your situation, it sounds like there is a lot of family and personal situations that are influencing people's decision making process. The pastor's family has issues and it's bleeding over into the church. Your frustration level is to the point you are wanting to walk away. But walking away under emotional duress usually leads to regrettable decisions.

    My wife does not agree with my decision...
    Ok, this is one factor. In my experience, my wife has been good at seeing things that I don't see in these kinds of situations. Being a little more detached, she's probably seeing the bigger picture. That's important. My wife is usually right, too.

    He tells me that the weekend before he had quit the ministry completely, that he had given up on everything including his kids and family since he was so distraught (still understandably affected by the divorce). I am completely in the dark about all of this, because although I was constantly sending messages, he never opened up to me, and no one ever told me about how fragile he actually was.
    Finding out this stuff later is always frustrating. You feel bad because you basically made a bad situation worse, but you don't feel like you did anything wrong because you were ignorant of the facts. If no one tells you, how are you supposed to know?

    But, that doesn't change what happened. Now that you know, what can you learn? What needs to happen to make the situation better?

    He does explain hes upset and that hes not himself and out of it at the moment, but that he doesn't want anyone to be up there right now.
    It sounds like your pastor is hurting and making some reactionary decisions that he might rethink once the emotions settle down. It's hard, but try to see things from his side and give him some leeway.

    I would suggest, after a cooling off period, sit down with him over coffee, from one minister to another, and get it on the table and worked through. Then, after everything settles down, if you still feel led to move on, you can do it with more of a sense of closure and knowing it was based on a solid foundation and not a reaction to an emotionally charged situation.

    Praying a peaceful resolution.
    If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks Mike.

      Have to admit your right about our wives, mine is usually good at seeing my bad decisions and calling me on them, and shes usually right.

      I sent a long letter explaining the situation, but overall apologizing to my Pastors for what happened that same Sunday night. I explained that I believed I made the best decision for the group at the time, but that I understood their situation and reaction, and how sad I truly am to learn about their son. Also sent a letter to his son, just apologizing for aggravating the situation I was unaware of.

      I can't make heads or tails of how I feel about leaving leadership, maybe God wants me to sit on it more, since I don't feel compelled to make this decision right now or inform anyone except my wife. You're right about how emotionally charged things are right now, my Pastor is so down in the dumps he confessed he didn't even want to know anything about church or the ministry. He's my Pastor, but also my friend, and its hard to see him like this.

      Appreciate the input Mike. Thank You

      Comment


      • #4
        You're in a foggy area. When driving into a foggy area - SLOW DOWN! Don't make a reactionary rash decision with the wheel and change directions. Listen to the voice of your wife (but not because she said God's call is irrevocable = His call on your life is, his location for you is not quite so Calvinistic {sorry to the Calvanites out there} but because God uses her as your helpmate.

        It sounds like you're in this situation due to the fact that your worship area was a little desperate for musical skill and you only had an unreliable vessel with other options difficult or impossible to come by. The inadvertent, understandable error was after not hearing from him after a time, still letting him play a role that would be pivotal to the process. It may have avoided this to let him add in something peripheral that wouldn't detract from the total picture in case he was ill prepared, or to politely ask him to sit this one out do to the lack of prep and communication. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20 and I only offer that as constructive towards future experience. It isn't a criticism at all brother. It also sounds like he needs to sit things out on a spiritual level and go through some healing and restoration rather than leading/assisting in worship. Again, I know you feel like you need his skill (I would argue that you might not.) And it sounds like the church needs a bit of simplicity as there is more going on than just his situation and it would help to get back to the basics and reorient the faith community (with the leadership/pastor on board of course). Don't try and pull out "Hillsong" events right now in other words (and I really wish I had other words but you get my meaning). Do what you can do well.

        Let time heal this wound and see what becomes of the situation in the coming days. God may need you to learn something through these trials to prepare you for some future need. I know it is painful, frustrating, and other things. Be strong and courageous! He has called you. So be strong and very courageous! Keep soliciting advice from this community. There is a lot of wisdom and experience to gleen from among these board members. Praying for you.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by NathanLuna87 View Post
          Basically I want know what you guys/gals think about my decision to leave. Am I running way, or making the best choice for the situation at hand? Thanks for your feedback.
          Jon:

          All of this is IMUSLPO (In my uninformed simple lay person's opinion). This is my third attempt at writing a response, hopefully it's more helpful and coherent than the last two.

          Matthew 5 (NIV)

          23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
          It sounds like you're already in the process of being reconciled to your pastor. I would urge you to continue that process to its completion before making any decisions about the gift at the altar.

          Hebrews 12 (NIV)

          2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
          In thinking of your future service to Christ (in music or not in music), I suggest you also look back to Christ, and remember what He endured for us, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

          I hate conflict within my own ministry, and have been greatly discouraged a number of times with myself, my decisions, the people I work with, and even the authorities I report to within the church. But compared to Christ's sacrifice, or even those of the martyrs, my troubles aren't even a drop in the bucket.

          I praise God He's still working on me!

          As far as your particular situation, I would suggest the following:

          1) Pray for your pastor regularly. It's obvious he's under attack.

          2) Finish the reconciliation process with the pastor.

          3) Determine at that time with him whether or not he would feel more comfortable with a different leader. (I assume that your church structure is such where the pastor is the one in authority over your position) .

          4) Lastly, if your method of service to God is to change, spend more time with Him to determine what that new role looks like: as a music leader somewhere else, as a musician, a sound board tech, a children's worker, a street preacher, etc. etc.

          God lead you in your pursuit of Him!

          Comment


          • #6
            Good insight Moosic, thanks. I agree looking back there's always that coulda, woulda, shoulda about these difficult situations.

            I was so involved in preparing for the concert, since i am the only one who had the responsibility to (literally a one-man-band if it wasnt for the backing tracks), and since he wasnt responding to my messages, I decided to take the easy route and become self-reliant on this one. I was as considerate as possible taking them to the side so the rest of the group wasnt aware of what had happened, and to not embarrass them. And no worries on offending me with any criticism if you had any. I welcome all input, since I know I can make some major mistakes, just like anyone of us can. It's an opportunity to better myself and better serve the church and the Worship Team.

            And as much as I would love to have with next to me in the Worship Team, I know it would be to the benefit of noone. He has an amazing gift, and a great heart to serve but, He really does need to take a step back and recover. I even suggested he get some Christian counseling, It really help me deal with some tough personal times in my life.

            Wish we didn't have to go through these valleys sometimes, but I know I can't fear whats to come. Thank you for the encouragement!
            Last edited by NathanLuna87; 06-04-2012, 02:25 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              lol wow after5, I couldn't help but smile after decoding that acronym. I'll have to use that sometime .

              You make a great, and I believe overlooked, point with Matthew 5. In my little experience working in Music Ministry, I have seen so many un-resolved grudges and bitter-resentment between ministers, its frightening. Like 1 John 4:20, how can we say we love God when we hate our brother? It was because of this I felt the need to write a letter to my Pastors, and their son asking for forgiveness. My intention was to never offend, I only wanted to give the best. Some might say what I did was not intentional since I was uninformed about his situation, and there technically was no need for me to apologize. But I felt otherwise. I hold no anger or resentment at my Pastors for what they've done, I wanted to mend our relationship, and assure that the enemy wouldn't take advantage of this situation to do more damage.

              After talking about it and looking at the bigger picture (how little this suffering really is), it comforts me to know that there really is no need to fret over these things. In the end, God will direct my path, of staying and serving, or perhaps serving in another ministry or church (although I have no desire to leave).

              Thank You.

              Comment


              • #8
                Run away! Run fast. Don't look back.

                I'm not kidding.

                Nate
                Practical Worship

                Please Pray For My Wife

                Comment


                • #9
                  Wow... that is a lot but you explained it very well.

                  I really can't help with the decision, but I will add that wives are a blessing when making decisions and God put them in our lives as helpers for a reason... to typically call us out on our BS haha...

                  I see a lot of dynamics here that I would have a problem with as a lay person, let alone leading a ministry, that I would have addressed with the pastor. I don't want to start an argument, that isn't my intent, but I at least what to get some concerns out there.

                  Yes, we are fallen people in sin, that is very clear. But in some seasons where our sin or life situations hit on some major issues, as a pastor, I would expect him to ask someone going through a divorce to step down for a bit in their ministry (yes even his son, I'm a pastors kid and my dad would do more than ask me to step down). I completely understand that no one is without sin, but some things are big issues from an example standpoint and an emotional standpoint that I feel get in the way of the person ability to minister others. Things like pornography addiction, divorce, etc. (even non-sin type family issues like a child getting cancer, etc.) should be a perfect example of reasons to have that person step aside and go through that season focused on the issue at hand and not on others.

                  Divorce is gnarly and NOT what God wants from a marriage, it's outside his plan, therefore it is sin in almost all instances. I can't speak to this situation, but someone going through this and following through with a decision to split a unity made under God must be going through some very intense emotional and spiritual battles. I could never endorse someone going through that leading others spiritually. IMO, every person doing something more than sitting in the pew is a part of the ministry in some fashion, so I would expect even an usher to take a leave if in the same situation for the same reasons.

                  I would be slightly worried in a pastor that does not feel the same way, though I would not leave immediately because of it. I would try and sit down and reconcile the issue with him, but if we disagreed on the issue, I personally would have to look somewhere else because I find it to be such a big deal. I want to be clear though, I’m not trying to be legalistic here and forget forgiveness and mercy. But the Bible is clear that divorce is sin, just like the sin I commit daily, but some sin has bigger impacts on one’s life and ability to lead. A divorced person (or other sin we elevate for whatever reason) can certainly be brought back into the ministry fold, but not until the issue has been resolved and the spiritual healing has taken place in that person. Some of the greatest influences in my life as a man have been men who went through a divorce at one point in their life. But all of them would agree that that season in life is not one to be leading others.

                  I do though have to agree with milepost13 a bit though, the situation LOOKS like something that won’t get resolved and the result may be to step away. There is a LOT of other dynamics going on here that would worry me. But I wouldn’t just run away, there is always room for reconciliation and mercy within the body of Christ.
                  Lov'n Jesus

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by milepost13 View Post
                    Run away! Run fast. Don't look back.

                    I'm not kidding.

                    Nate

                    Classic, nate!

                    Seriously, I wouldn't necessary say to run away, but this does indeed show some serious issues with leadership. The response shouldn't have been to set all of you down, in my opinion. Also, the Pastor should have seen that Robert really wasn't in a place where he should be ministering, period... I'm all for giving grace and helping people through a rough time. At the same time, we need to understand that maybe being in public ministry, on stage, in leadership, isn't the right place for you always when you're in the middle of that. I'm not being judgmental, just stating the fact. It's different with each situation.

                    I think cooler heads will prevail - sit down, and talk it over. See if humility and grace can come into the conversation. I agree with those who said don't act rashly or in a hurry.
                    Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
                    blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

                    Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:
                    www.soundcloud.com/FredMcKinnonMusic
                    www.youtube.com/c/FredMcKinnonMusic

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Reply & Update

                      steensn & fmckinnon Thanks for the advice. I wish the Pastor's family would see it that way, about giving him some time to recuperate, but its sort of seen as not relying on God's grace in their eyes. They say that making the sacrifice and effort to make it to service is the better choice, and it helps to be lifted up by the fellowship of those around you instead of sulking at home wallowing in your thoughts. Although, I dont want to make it sound like they were pressuring him, that was absolutely not the case. They gave him his room, and did not object to him coming when he could.

                      I agree to that mentality in some circumstances, but in this one I can't. It was obvious to them (but unfortunately not to me) that he was going through somewhere dark these past 2 weeks, or longer, and they really should have gotten him outside help. But then again, after their son saying he's done with the ministry, and seeing him unexpectedly show up again, who would tell their son to sit down?

                      And I'm sad to report that things are not getting better.

                      My wife told me this morning there was an Elders meeting last night, and our Pastor is doing really bad. He addressed the issue and said he had read the letter I sent and understood where I came from. Never-the-less the problem he saw and brought to everyone's attention, was that no-one should be sat down because of lack of talent. It's true, in the 7 years I've been there regardless of your skill level if you had a heart for worship you were never sat down. And his son as a Pastor and Previous Worship Leader, should not have been sat down. If that courtesy was extended to others, how much more not to his own son? Looking at it that way, I can see where I picked the importance of sounding good, over his family, and Im starting to feel guilty about it. Plus the fact that our Pastor is practically my wife's father (he's been the central male figure in her life since she was 13, her parents divorced early) doesn't help the situation. Seeing him like this is really hurting her.

                      My guilt is of course made worse by the fact that they have not heard from him since this Saturday. He's not missing per se, but refuses to communicate with his parents and has not come home to sleep at the house (where he's been since the divorce). Knowing this and how he had said he had given up on himself the week before, idk if I could handle it if he did something. I definitely would walk away out of shame, in my head I know I wouldn't be responsible, but I could never look them in the eyes again. I'm talking worse case scenario here, but it still wracking my head.

                      There's nothing I can do to make it right anymore. It's not as black & white as I first thought, I just hope and pray that God can fix this huge mess with no casualties. Geez I wish time travel was real sometimes .
                      Last edited by NathanLuna87; 06-06-2012, 09:14 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by milepost13 View Post
                        Run away! Run fast. Don't look back.

                        I'm not kidding.

                        Nate
                        lol run huh? Anymore insight to share before I put my Nike's on?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Man- I feel for you.

                          Well, here's what comes to my mind, as I'd consider strapping up Nike's in your situation.

                          - Would leaving now be the right thing to do? Would you be comfortable with yourself? When the going gets tough do the tough quit? That's not meant to be masculine or macho, but I don't care where you go, there will be problems. There is a time to cut bait, but there is also a time to stick it out.

                          ...that no-one should be sat down because of lack of talent. It's true, in the 7 years I've been there regardless of your skill level if you had a heart for worship you were never sat down.
                          I would think a formidable rebuttal would be that he wasn't sat down for lack of talent- it was lack of preparation and commitment (unless you clearly said lack of talent in the letter). I don't care how big your 'heart' (a.k.a intention) is, if you unprepared and uncommitted, it's grounds to sit out.

                          And his son as a Pastor and Previous Worship Leader, should not have been sat down.
                          It seems he's putting family over ministry. This is lose-lose. If you sit him down, you embarrass the pastor. If you leave him in and the show falls apart, you embarrass yourself and the ministry. Neither scenario ends well.

                          This is one of those times where the church finds out what it's made of. The pastor is hurting, and this could lead him to hurt others. This is compounded by the fact your wife sees him as a father, so it's not going to be a clean break, no matter what color Nikes you put on.

                          There's nothing I can do to make it right anymore
                          That may be- but what you can do is pray, be wise, and maintain love and understanding. Like any other relationship, you will have to determine what is there to build from, to learn from, and make stronger.

                          The entire church is watching what's going on. This adds fuel to the fire. People will pick sides, people will speculate, the rumor mill will be in full swing, there will be a lot more drama. Try your best to avoid that by telling 'your side' only to those whom you trust and know will keep your confidence- even if it's people outside the church. If people ask questions, politely tell them that you are working it out with leadership- remember, you don't owe them an answer. They don't need to know. How you handle this will go a long way to establishing your level of integrity.

                          Still praying- it's a tough thing for a church to go through.
                          If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            And to tag along here.....
                            enjoy the summer break! wooo hoooo relax. rejuvenate, learn new music recruit new players!!!!!!!!!!

                            Then come back stronger fresher, newer in August!

                            see, thats not so bad an idea is it?
                            I didn't mean to be inaccurate, but I wasn't trying to be precise.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well put Mike.

                              Nathan, you are in a tough spot. I can bet that most here disagree with the idea that no one should be sat down for lack of talent. If it is going to be a distraction, then the church is better off just singing “a capella.“

                              Further, the son doesn't only have two options: (1) Serve the church by ministering to others, attend church, be part of the fellowship, receive good council, etc. OR (2) sit at home and sulk. He can be part if the body, fellowship, and submit to the Lord while he goes through this season in life without ministering to others. It's a sad misconception of your pastor that I would personally call him out one-on-one regarding as I feel it is so significant. The church should be circling around the son in such a way that he doesn’t feel he even has a choice to not fellowship and take council.

                              You're in a tough spot, I know the Lord will use it to his will as he always does.
                              Lov'n Jesus

                              Comment

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