I Just Can’t Share Their Bitterness

Neal Pollard

I write this as someone who has spent his entire life in a preacher’s home. I grew up a preacher’s kid, whose dad was fired twice (once for baptizing a black woman and later for standing against the “New Hermeneutic”). I have been a full-time preacher for nearly thirty years myself. Now, my sons are devoting their lives full-time to preaching. To an extent, our family’s lives have revolved around preaching. Have there been hurts, disappointments, and occasions of mistreatment? Certainly. Of course, plumbers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, and builders will tell you the same. But, we work with Christians, who should know better? That’s true, but they are still humans constantly struggling with the battle of self. 

My dad has always spoken of the value and blessing of the church, even when dealing with personal hurts. He loves the Lord and His church. As we grew up in the home, he taught us to have a high esteem for the precious bride of Christ. In college, I had one teacher who especially counseled us to look at the church–and the people who make it up–with hopeful, optimistic eyes. We generally find what we are looking for. If we are looking for injustices, offenses, and disappointments, we’ll see an endless supply of it whether we’re looking at elders, deacons, long-time members, or new or weak Christians. If we can view the foibles of others with patience, compassion, and empathy, we are likely to help each other grow and transform. We will definitely steer away from an “us versus them” mentality.

If you are in full-time ministry for any length of time, you will have some stories to tell. Some will be full of joy and excitement. Share these generously. They will encourage and edify. Some will be unbelievable, but not in a good way. Use wisdom and discretion about how, who and if you tell those. What are we hoping to accomplish by such sharing?

Preaching is not lucrative business. It’s not paradise on earth. It’s not easy and not everyone can (or should) do it. But, it’s the greatest work in the world! It constantly impacts eternity in seen and unseen ways, in a way that perhaps nothing else can match. There will be some lumps and bumps. Ask Paul (2 Cor. 11:23ff). But, listen to Paul, too. In prison, he wrote of rejoicing about preaching despite its various pitfalls (Phil. 1:14-24). Some seem bitter about how they have been treated in preaching, and I hope they can work through it. But, I love this life so much, and I just can’t share their bitterness!

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Our staff introducing themselves to the 2019 Future Preachers Training Campers

9 thoughts on “I Just Can’t Share Their Bitterness

  1. I love this post. Bill and I both were raised in preacher families. I loved being a preacher’s daughter but I just loved having great parents. Being a preacher ‘s wife is wonderful but it’s wonderful because of who I married. There have been good, bad, ugly, beautiful, exceptional times: some I wouldn’t trade for anything. Others I hope never to repeat but I love the people we have worked with and served with and laughed with and cried with. It’s not perfect but nothing in this life is. I’m proud to be. Ill’s wife. I’m thankful for the life we have. Thanks for posting g your thoughts. Love to you and Kathy, Beverly Watkins, wife of Bill Watkins

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  2. Bitterness needs repented of immediately. One cannot share the Good News if they care more about what someone else has said or done than what the Lord has done. A pouting preacher is a pitiful thing. “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” – Romans 8:37 One choses to be a victim. You have made a wiser choice, Neal!

  3. My husband was a full time Preacher for 15 years. He now works a secular job, and is an elder for our congregation. The most discouraging things that have happened along the way have come from those who believe themselves to be the “elite”, learned preachers, who, in my opinion cause hurt and division when throwing out the “liberal/conservative” labels. It is so incredibly sad to see this in the Lord’s family. Thank you for this article. Spot on!

  4. Great article! It is worth noting that a good chunk of Jesus’ New Testament would not exist if not for churches with problems. Corinth was a mess, the churches of Galatia needed rebuke, the Ephesian brethren left their first love, the teaching of Balaam & the Nicolaitans troubled Pergamum, Thyatira tolerated Jezebel, Sardis was dead and Laodicea was lukewarm. The churches were rebuked, but was anyone encouraged by Jesus or an apostle to leave those congregations or spend their lives making sure everyone else knew their faults? Is the church ever troubled by those who are actually following Jesus in trying to win souls?

  5. David still preaches, “Heartaches, disappointments, all the troubles in life either make you bitter or better. You choose which attitude to have.” I think this was directed toward me. I always said that he got his sermon material from living with me.

  6. Thank you, Neal. During a time of searching for a new place to serve, these words remind to focus on the positive memories, while remembering also to recognize strengths that may be gleaned from newly acquired scars.

  7. I so appreciate your comment, “We generally find what we’re looking for…” This is true for every area of our lives. We will always find negativity wherever we go, but if we’re looking for it, we will find just as much positivity, too!

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