Of course, his e-mail reminded me of a similar time in my own life. I was flooded with memories of the time I spent in my first pastorate. Like this young man, I am thankful for all those ministers and churches who collectively invested in me prior to that opportunity. Together, they helped to prepare me for my role as a Senior Pastor. Of course, not everyone is so blessed. For instance, I read recently about one such fellow. It seems…
The new preacher moved his things into his new office and came across the former pastor, taking his items out. The former pastor said, "I left three envelopes in your desk. If you have any trouble, open them."
Well, of course the new preacher thought he would never have to use them, but in his youthful enthusiasm, he tried to change the order in which the children marched in during Vacation Bible School. Well, this made the workers absolutely furious; and there was a lot of ugly talk about the new pastor.
He remembered the envelopes and opened the first one. It said, "You haven't been here long, but you decided to make a change in the Vacation Bible School; now everyone is mad. Tell everyone that the former preacher had told you this was how they preferred to do it." So the young preacher did that and it worked well.
He had been there about a year and a half when he tried to change the Deacon position from being a life-long job to a position that rotated annually. Well, this made the Deacons really mad, and they were the ones who made his annual salary recommendation.
So he went back to the drawer and got the second envelope. It read: "You did something to make the Deacons mad and there's talk of replacing you. Tell them this is the official denominational policy, and that you simply thought they wanted to comply; but it really doesn't make you any difference what they do." He tried this; and again it worked great.
You guessed it. After three years, he finally told the Women's Organization that they were going to have to open the kitchen so that it could be used without a representative from the Women's group being present. This put the Women's Organization in open revolt.
So he went back to that third and final envelope and opened it. Here’s what it said: "You've been here about three years and you finally got the Women's Organization mad. The only thing you can do at this point is to prepare three envelopes...”*