Ministry life is different than any other profession I know.
When we moved here, we left a place we loved. We had wonderful relationships, a great staff, a fruitful ministry and felt God was truly still working through us. We didn't seek out a new place to serve. They found us. We had no reason to leave where we were except for we knew God was calling us to a new place. We still say that we could have stayed there forever.
Because of our love for the church and the people there, we speak very highly of our 7+ years in Vidalia. Dan references them in sermons. We keep in touch with people from there. We have had TONS of visitors from there. We speak with kindness, love and respect for the ministry we left behind. Yet, a little over a year ago, someone told us that there were people here who felt we loved that place too much? A few more conversations revealed that it seemed to be an underlying issue with our love for FBCV that led people to believe that we wished we had never moved. That wasn't the case, but it was the feeling of many people in our congregation at Stetson.
Just today, I read an article about the quickest way to find a staff family to avoid is one who consistently talks negatively about their former church. Staff members get frustrated when their own church members speak bad of the bride of Christ yet they do it often when they move to a new place of service. (And unfortunately, many do it while serving at the church.) When you find a staff family that complains about other staff to church members, money, being overworked, leadership or budget issues, there is usually an issue much deeper within those individuals that needs to be dealt with. It becomes cancer wherever they go.
So, there is this fine line where former churches are concerned. If you talk about them too much, then it seems you shouldn't have left. If you talk mostly negatively about them, it reveals your heart. But, former churches are a part of who you are. They leave marks on your heart, family, life and ministry. You can't avoid talking about them at all costs. Every church experience we have hasn't been rosy. We have both served on several church staffs and have experienced some junk. But, I can guarantee you, people know much more about the good God did there than the bad we experienced. The world talks bad enough about the church, it should never hear the bad from within the body of the church, much less from staff members! If we could all take that negative energy and put it to work for good, big things could happen.
Ministry hasn't been a surprise to me. I was in ministry before I met Dan. I knew what I was getting in to when I married him. On many occasions, I've heard people excuse poor spousal behavior by saying "Well, she didn't set out to marry a minister, she married an Accountant who was later called to ministry." Or, "She never wanted to be part of a church staff, she wanted to live a professional life." That's tough. It really is. But, ministry is a couple endeavor. If you both can't get on board, you both shouldn't be doing it. There are plenty of jobs out there that don't require the extra heart that ministry does.
I've watched our Student Pastor and his wife do VBS this week. They are a team. They aren't joined at the hip but they certainly walk in step with each other. She does her ministry, he does his and together they love kids, minister to them and serve our church well. Over this week, I've heard a constant string of comments about how committed they are to this church and the cause of Christ all while seeming "GLAD" to do it all. What a picture of health that is for the world to see.
I've been praying that God would bring more of that to our church. We are currently looking for two staff positions and I ask God to bring TEAMS to us. I ask him to bring people who love their former place of service, use negative experiences from there to build their ministry and to build up the cause of Christ where ever they are. A church can only benefit from staff families who love Jesus, love the places they have served, love people and love to see people come to Him.