One Sunday afternoon, my father—a pastor at the time—came home from church and shared with the family some news about a beloved couple.
They were leaving.
The news crushed my family with a wave of disappointment and discouragement. There are people one may wish would leave the church and there are others one hope’s will never leave. This couple was the latter not the former. I immediately thought about all the ways their presence would be sorely missed. Then quickly, I thought of attendance numbers and how frustrating it is to lose such great people when we were finally on an upward swing of momentum.
My father continued to share how a great job opportunity had presented itself, how it seemed like the right time to move for this couple. My mind was racing and my dad’s words left me flabbergasted.
“Why didn’t he encourage them to stay? We need them here! Is this really God’s will when there is so much to be done in this city?” I thought to myself.
I focused on the hole they would leave, not the benefits this new opportunity offered for them. My dad’s response to this obviously sad news left me amazed. How could he just let them go without trying to convince them to stay?
Love and care for his church family, concern for their wellbeing more than how it would impact his work, the church, and so on. My dad saw the good for those he loved despite the cost it would bring to him personally.
The much younger me wanted to control and keep everyone around, so that the church could flourish. I missed entirely the point of what the Church is and how real love works. Love lets them go when it is time. Love serves and gives continually even when the investment benefits others more than oneself.
This lesson applies far beyond the relationship of a pastor with a congregation. Even if ministry is not our vocation, life offers many opportunities to love others when it isn’t beneficial for us. We have the choice to either control or let go. Sadly, we use God’s name to wield power over people instead of seeing with His eyes and discerning what He is doing in the lives of others. We aren’t good at letting go; in other words, we aren’t good at loving others.
Where do you need to love someone enough to let them go today?