Monday, September 26, 2005

Something Like a Personal Pity Party

I don't know if this is the appropriate setting for these thoughts, but I feel the need to get them out. I might delete this later, but I just wanted to type a bit.

Yesterday was my last day as the Senior Pastor of Ithaca Baptist Church. I don't want to be one of those people who expects to be coddled and cared for, but I was surprised by the farewell we received. There was nothing planned officially by the deacon or deaconess boards beyond the fifth Sunday like meal in the afternoon.

The morning service was fine but flat. I had picked all songs I like to sing for the worship time, which was nice. But several of our closest friends decided not to come to the service because they told us it would be too hard for them. I understand their sentiment, but that hurt a little bit. I tried to explain why to Vanessa. For nearly five years at Ithaca, I have said as a mantra, "It's not about me." Part of me just thought that yesterday was actually about me and that people who really cared about me would come to support and encourage me, putting their own feelings aside for me. I was disappointed that I was wrong about this.

I preached as normal and then had to ask one of the deacons to pray because I thought it inappropriate to give directions and such for a dinner in our honor. We did have a potluck dinner, but it was like every other run of the mill potluck we've ever had at IBC. There was no service or farewell statement at all. There was no goodbye gift or prayer, no chance to say any final words of thanks to the church or to explain what we will be doing in Arkansas. People just came up to us and said good bye when they were ready to go, but many didn't even do that. The deacons decided to have an impromptu meeting, I assume about our student ministries pastor's status after we leave. It was like we were bystanders and intruders at our own party. Throughout our time here in Ithaca, we have had a few families leave the church to move to another area. All of them had nicer farewell times than we did.

I know the right answers, the spiritual responses. And I will force myself to have them eventually. But today, I just feel sad. I gave a lot to IBC over the past four years, and while many have seen and appreciated that, yesterday just didn't do justice to what we have all witnessed God do during our time here. Certainly there were some who gave us cards and gifts and spoke kind words to us, but the lack of anything "official" was indicative. I fear that it is an indication of the storm clouds on the horizon. And that makes me feel a bit like a failure and a lot sad.

OK - all that said, I will see how I feel. Something tells me I won't let this post stay up very long.


Faz said...

You should leave this post. One day you will find this again and reflect on it, on God, life, your ministry and yes IBC.
This is now part of your story. You are a gifted servant of God my brother. I know that. God has led you into a new ministry and neither you or I can imagine all he has instore. God will use this hurt to effect other people story for his purpose and glory.

By his grace


Don Kriss said...

Leave it up.

A said...

I agree. Leave it. Let it stand, for the record.

What does that verse say? "... shake the dust from your feet ..."

You've got a lot of love waiting for you in Arkansas!! We kiss our cousins here, just think what that means for best friends!!

SLF said...

hey Robb,
this is my post on Vanessa's new blog::
hi vanessa, I just wanted to tell you that: this too will pass! I have just experienced a ~similar~ situation-rejection,lack of understanding and love,chaos,but also......... joy,excitement,creativity,fun,passion for His glory!I see His hand in all that is happening to me and my family.I hope to watch your adventure unfold through your blogs, with anticipation of something wonderful for your sweet family and for the people in your new community;to see what God has prepared for you in OK at Vintage!SLF in NY

ps--OOOPS! I put OK instead of Arkansas.
~May God bless you richly!

rocket said...

Hey Robb. Please take this right. I'm not trying to preach to you. Remember why you are in ministry in the first place. Galatians 1:10. It doesn't matter what kind of party or farewell people may give you.

And don't be too hard on the people at Ithaca. It's different when a pastor leaves than any other church goer. They are hurting to see you leave, more than you know.

Robb said...

Rocket, thanks for your comments. I know that on many levels you are right. Sometimes, we need to vent. I honestly don't know if that is an appropriate thing to do or if it is better to keep it all inside. Thus my angst about leaving the post. I am trying to be authentic about my feelings, grief, and need for growth. If having to face my disappointment (even misguided disappointment), so be it. I can't paste on a smile and pretend everything is ok. Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

I'm more sad than I can express at how the church responded. You and Vanessa have done so much for them, and I doubt I will ever find another pastor/wife/and kids that I will love like I did you. I pray that if nothing else, their lack of goodbyes will make it easier for you to move (not that I want you to). I miss your preaching and I miss Vanessa and the kids. I'll be thinking of you and praying for you. Hang in there.

rocket said...

It all the way makes sense and I'm not trying to tell you that you are handling things wrongly at all. I'm trying to encourage you to remember that when we have eternity in mind, well pleasing God is all that matters. I believe that you did that at Ithaca. It hurts when we are wronged. Sometimes when we share that pain we can help the people who are doing the wrong to see that it should be avoided in the future. Instead of telling you that you're wrong, I'm trying to encourage you that God is pleased and that the people will miss you. Maybe they will learn from this and do the next pastor right.

I shared Galatians 1:10 because it helped me a ton through a similar situation when I was asked to resign from a church. The senior pastor at that church never was able to explain why he was asking me to leave. He later apologized but has given me headaches again since then. Leaving that church hurt a ton. I almost gave up then and there. But I had to remember that I wasn't there to please him or even anyone else in the church. I was there to please God. I believe that I did that. So now *bad attitude alert* I don't care what he thinks about me. Ok this was way long and I've probably lost my anonymity, I loved it, so I'm done.

Wait. Are you sure this pain isn't just from my Colts beating your Browns?

Sara said...

That makes me cry...i don't know where i would be in life without you two or where i would be going.
It still baffles me as to why you two chose to invest so much into my life when before you two came few people did.
I wish that i could have been there i would have done something even if it wasn't through the proper 'channels' maybe thats wrong..but you two deserved so much better than that.