“I cannot recommend her for any kind of pastoral position.”
“He no longer has standing in our denomination.”
“He has a history of denigrating female pastors.”
“She has split the last three congregations she’s served.”
There is enormous power in being a professional reference for a colleague. And in the role I now have in denominational Mid-Council work, I am charged with doing clearance checks for any pastor who hopes to work within the bounds of our Presbytery. I’ve done this work in a couple of places now and the joys of doing these “exec checks” far outweighs the burdens.
The truth is that:
- Every pastor has growing edges.
- Every pastor is imperfect.
- Every pastor has ticked off somebody.
- Every pastor has failed at something.
- Every pastor has character flaws.
But all we have to do is look at the news from our Roman Catholic siblings to see that allowing pastors who have a history of abusing people to continue in professional ministry is disastrous.
I appreciate and treasure truth-telling. And truth-telling is not about gossip, agenda, or rumor. It’s about facts – especially factual truths regarding grave misconduct.
I love it when people tell me the truth – even if it’s a hard truth. Tell me that I talked too much at that meeting. Tell me if I overstep. Tell me when I need to take the proverbial bull by the horns. It might hurt for a second, but if I trust you, I can handle it. And if I want to grow, I need to hear it.
We in the Church are often afraid to speak the truth – even in love – and it only hurts us when we don’t. Thank you, colleagues, when your have shared the truth with me and when you’ve allowed me to share it with you. And if you have a history of misconduct, it’s best to tell me yourself. (But even if you don’t, I’ll probably find out.)
Image of Josh Duhamel wanting the truth from a blonde person.