Enjoy the honeymoon while it lasts.
It will end for most of you.
I love hearing from pastors and other church staff about their honeymoons and the reasons they ended. Here are the top seven reasons I compiled from those conversations.
- Because reality sets in. The honeymoon is that period where each of two parties sees the other through idyllic lenses. But the pastor and the congregation will soon discover that neither is perfect. Indeed, each party may be even more critical of the other because the idyllic period seemed so bliss. The new era becomes a stark contrast.
- Because the pastor leads change. The search committee and the congregation as a whole assured the pastor they were ready to make changes. What they did not fully communicate was that change was okay as long as it did not affect them personally.
- Because the pastor search committee set unrealistic expectations. The search committee or similar calling group may have said things about the church and her future that just was not true. They may have been delusional more than deceptive, but the impact is the same. The pastor is disillusioned with the church he came to serve.
- Because the pastor set unrealistic expectations. It works both ways. The pastor could have set some expectations about his leadership that just did not come to fruition. In secular terms, he oversold himself.
- Because the pastor did something stupid. It happens. I have my own miserable stories as I pastor I could share with you. But I won’t.
- Because the staff persons revolt. A pastor decided to establish reasonable work expectations of the staff. Some of them did not like the idea of working, so they revolted. The honeymoon ended quickly. In more than one church, the staff even joined the bully cartel to oust the pastor.
- Because the pastor follows a beloved person. That beloved predecessor was likely a long-term pastor. The moment some of the members discover the new pastor is different than “Pastor Bob,” they don’t like it or the new pastor. They especially don’t like it if he changes things Pastor Bob instituted.
Except on rare occasions, all honeymoons come to an end. Expect it. Learn to lead and to live with it. Just try to avoid number 5. There is really no need to do something stupid.