middle desk drawer for the incoming pastor. Attached to the envelopes is a note that says, “To be opened when you run into trouble.”
Well, a new pastor is called and sure enough it isn’t long before he gets into an argument with a fellow on the elder board.
He suddenly remembers the envelopes. Going to his desk, he sees an envelope marked #1 and opens it. A note inside says, “Blame your predecessor.”
The next fight for the new pastor comes not long after that and the new fellow opens envelope #2. He reads this note: “Blame the denomination.”
And you guessed it, it wasn’t long before the new pastor found himself on the wrong side of an issue with an older woman he knew to be the church’s tribal chief. He quickly opened envelope #3 and read: “Prepare 3 envelopes.”
Sad to say, that has been the story of too many pastors.
Having met face-to-face with well over 100 pastors in the last couple of years, can you guess those pastors I usually find myself most drawn to? The Smartest? Nope. Those with the greatest vision? Nope. Those who smile the biggest? Of course not.
Actually, those who are humble. That’s right. Especially those who are intellectually humble. Pastors who don’t always act like that are always right, especially theologically right, are much more likely to be forgiven by those who took offense at something that was said by the pastor.
In a blog post by David Briggs, he says that real humility by a pastor means being other oriented. Intellectual humility in particular means being open to new ideas and being willing to check arrogance and your need to be right.Those pastors I know who act humbly are pretty quick to receive trust from others and find parishioners open and agreeable to their ideas.
Just think about it. Don’t you think that people who find you humble usually are quick to forgive your mistakes and not sit around and plot ways to get even with you?
A church community with humble leaders creates a context for people to care about each other, to show compassion to each other, and to model for people that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Perhaps with that kind of mindset, outgoing pastors might have only to prepare 2 envelopes for the person succeeding them. The first envelope to be opened at a time of trouble would read, “Be humble.” The note in the second envelope would read, “Stay humble.”
Then maybe there wouldn’t be a need for a third envelope.