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Illustration by Daniel Richardson

Why leaders are a pain

Truth telling in the parish

Recently I spent an hour with a young pastor who, six months after starting at a small-town church, discovered that the congregation was in greater difficulty—financially and demographically—than it had recognized.

“How do I tell them the truth without their hating me for it?” she asked.

We discussed strategies and issues of timing and presentation—much the same issues that a preacher confronts when preparing a sermon on a tough text. I was impressed with her determination to find a way to speak the life-giving truth that previous pastors had avoided.

Toward the end of our meeting, I said, “Just a couple of decades ago, ministers wouldn’t have had this kind of conversation. The church has handed us some hard work, work few of us expected and for which none of us is trained.”

She replied, “I thank God that I’m not only a pastor but also a mother. Motherhood has given me lots of experience in telling painful truths to people I love.”


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