Very recently, I was in a conversation with someone I know casually. For a few minutes, the topic of the conversation turned to faith and with what congregation she and her husband worshiped. She began to give me the journey of how they came to be with the current congregation. And she said the phrase that this pastor detests as the reason for leaving the previous congregation for the current one. And, actually, a friend who was already attending their now congregation said this phrase to her about her previous congregation. I actually consider this friend’s actions to be “underhanded sheep-stealing.”
What’s this phrase that this pastor detests and can often be used as the reason (excuse?) for leaving one congregation for another?
“I just wasn’t being fed.”
I have 4 adult children, ranging from 25 in a month to 20 in 2 weeks. If I told someone that it was necessary for me to feed any one of them, I have to believe that that person would immediately think there is something wrong, either with me or with my child! Why is that? Because a child by the time s/he has been in school a couple of years should be able to feed him or herself! Oh sure, there may need to be some assistance with cutting of meat or something along those lines, but eventually that assistance is no longer needed as well. And that is considered proper and normal. Anything different is considered abnormal.
So, if I have to still feed my child who is an adult, there is a problem, and a severe problem.
True, as a parent, as my children were growing, it was my responsibility to provide the food so that my children could feed themselves, but the responsibility for the actuality of being fed was on my children.
It’s the exact same situation in the spiritual realm. If a follower of Christ who still needs someone like a pastor to spoon feed him/her, then I contend there is a problem with that follower. There has been a disconnect somewhere along the discipleship process. Oh sure, it is the responsibility of the leadership of a congregation to provide continued access to spiritual food, but if the person is not getting sustenance, then the issue is with the person doing the eating, not the one providing the access.
Honestly, I see the phrase, “I’m just not being fed,” as an indicator of a consumerist mentality which I believe is rife through the congregations of Jesus. And then it’s used as a reason to jump ship and run somewhere else.
But here’s what I have discovered about this type of person – eventually the pastor or leadership of that new congregation will be seen as “not feeding” that person any longer and it is then often the case that s/he will leave that congregation for another. I have found this to be the common pattern. This is because if the follower doesn’t take responsibility for his/her being fed, eventually any pastor or leadership team will fail in meeting the “feeding” expectations of that person. And this is reality because the person who claims to not being fed sees him/herself truly as a victim. Where s/he finds him/herself isn’t his/her fault; it’s someone else’s.
Let’s take responsibility for our own spiritual growth. Let us not just place the responsibility on the shoulders of a pastor or a leadership team.