Last month, I returned two sets of keys: one for a church I helped to lead, and another for a business I part-owned. Both failed. The business failed financially, and had to close down. The church, while still open, has failed spiritually, and is dying a slower death. I feel disappointed by both failures. I knew the business would fail, after just the first few months, as we were under-capitalized and my partners were mismanaging it. I myself share some of the blame, as I neglected the business and left it entirely in their hands, once I saw that it was unprofitable-- basically a money pit.
But the church is a bigger disappointment. I invested a lot of time and energy (and, yes, money) in the church. I "delivered the message" there, about 12 times. I lead a weekly Bible study for over a year, I attended weekly leadership meetings, helped set up charity projects, and so on. More than that, I felt like part of a community of believers-- friends-- who were working together to build our church.
Then we decided to pay our pastor, who had been unpaid up until that point. Somebody said, "If we are going to pay the pastor we should do it right, and make a contract." I said, "Fine", and wrote a business-like contract, which made the pastor responsible to the church elders. He refused to sign it. And that's when we began to see how our pastor truly felt about our church. That it wasn't 'our' church at all... it was 'his'. At every meeting, his ego grew. Or perhaps just became more apparent. As his pride and stubbornness grew, so did divisions within the church, and one-by-one members left. A few of the church leaders remain, and they have decided to make one last effort to reason with the pastor. But I'm not hopeful.
Did I invest three years in that church for nothing? Should I have fought harder to save it? The pastor seemed to believe that I was trying to lead a mutiny, to take over leadership of 'his' church. That was never my intention. In fact, I left to avoid such a power struggle. But as I remove these keys from my key ring, I wonder: what did I do wrong?