Answers to "Ask Mike" Questions
45. How do you cope with a minister leaving after they have become your friend?
Details: "I read the article on this site about the youth minister resigning. My youth minister just resigned Wednesday night and I am very close to her. She and I were more friends than youth minister and youth and I feel very hurt by her decision to leave. She feels that God is calling her somewhere else, but I just don't see what could be anywhere else that she doesn't already have here with our church. I am having a difficult time coping with her leaving our church and town and my question is, how DO you cope with a loss such as this?..."
It is inevitable that we become close to those who minister to us the most. It hurts when these close friends leave. It is a genuine loss, sometimes it is as painful as the death or abandonment of a loved one. At the same time, however, we are not to follow humans but to be loyal to Christ. Here are some things to think about.
(1) Ministers often have a variety of motives when they leave a congregation. They may choose to leave because there are problems unseen by those closest to them. They may choose to leave because they feel they have accomplished all God hand in mind for them when they came. They may respond to a greater challenge. They could leave because they sense that some are developing a dependency upon them which is counter-productive and hurtful. Some may choose to leave because they were presented with a more challenging opportunity with a larger salary.
(2) No matter how close a friendship becomes, sooner or later our friends will let us down. There is only one who "sticks closer than a brother" and who will never fail us: Jesus.
Many who serve as "servant leaders" are hurt when an individual's loyalty focuses on them instead of the One they serve. Every believer must understand that a minister's task is not just to be a friend, a helper, but one who challenges and pushes each believer to grow. Paul wrote, "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe —as the Lord has assigned to each his task." (1 Corinthians 3:5 NIV)
How do you cope? You get involved with others in your youth group and seek to draw them all closer to Christ. You encourage the next individual who comes to serve as your youth minister. You step up and help. You get involved and take the focus off your own feelings. When you do that, you will find some of the most exciting life events are yet to be.
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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.