“The only people I owe my loyalty to are the ones who never made me question theirs.”
― Joe Mehl
Were you loyal to your pastor? Did he ever question it?
We had an exodus of about 20 people one year. All at once. It sure took me by surprise. I thought some of them were taking extended vacations that Thanksgiving Holiday. But then I realized they had left. Gone. Just gone. I thought “Wow, why, what happened?”
The pastor was obviously upset by it. We lost some of the best workers in the Choir, Sunday School and Bus Ministry we had. How were we going to carry on?
I never did know all the whys and wherefores of that exodus. But it seemed to have something to do with the ones in charge of the Sunday School not being able to fully do their job, which was being very creative. Suddenly (as I remember it happening) we went from doing some really fun things to back to the “old way”. (I thought there was a lot more to it, but I was not privy to all the information).
The pastor suddenly was uncertain of everyone and their loyalty to him, not trusting anyone at all. We had meetings with the Department heads (I was one for that year) and all he talked about was how the people who left had been his friends one moment and then enemies the next. We got very little done in the meetings. We began hearing this from the pulpit the same thing. One moment he would be preaching away on a topic and he would suddenly stop and go on about how people had “hurt” him and he was certain more would do the same. We were to be loyal to him. He was the pastor. We were to respect him. He was the pastor. Our leader. This went on for years. Really.
He did not trust any of us. He seemed to think all of us were thinking of leaving. He always told us to “get over it” when we thought he “hurt our feelings”. (He sure was not getting over his “hurt feelings”). Anytime someone did not show up for church and did not call him, he knew they had left. It was just that we might be sick and just didn’t think to call. Or something had come up, we didn’t always consider his feelings. We were not being loyal to him. We didn’t mean it, really.
I always felt loyalty should go both ways. I have your back, you have mine sort of thing. We came to church and paid our tithes, praised the pastor’s preaching with “Amens” and the singing (lead by his wife) with our worship. We were to accept his leadership without question. Sometimes he would say something and someone would tell him that what he said hurt their feelings. He would preach about that later and tell us “So what if I hurt your feelings? Too bad! Get over it!” After a while I know I stopped feeling sorry for him (so did some other people) as he would go on and on about how people hurt his feelings and made him not trust the rest of us. It didn’t seem we were on a two way street here after that Exodus. I think most of the congregation was over it way before he was. Of course, in a way, we were not directly affected by the exodus the same way the pastor was. They were only our friends. He was their shepherd, pastor, leader.
Those of us left were sure we would never leave that church or pastor and would remain loyal forever. But some of us trickled out over the years just the same. I am not certain but I think his feelings of insecurity toward all of us after that time affected us more that we realized.
How can you be totally loyal to someone if your loyalty is called into question just because a group decided to leave?
Although my leaving took place about 10 years after this incident, I have wondered if there was a change in my thinking or loyalty that helped me out the door.