I served on a session with two godly elders for whom I was and am very grateful. We had a great degree of harmony among us, and when we disagreed about some things, God was kind to enable us to figure out a solution. On a number of occasions we faced very difficult circumstances. As we thought about the different options and ways we might tackle an issue, one of my elders always offered very simple but nevertheless profound advice. He would remind us, “No matter how difficult it might be, we need to do the right thing.”
For example, we had a situation where someone all of a sudden stopped coming to church. This person didn’t respond to e-mails and it was quite difficult to get in touch with him or her by phone. When I finally talked with the person to determine what was going on, I uncovered a number of questionable moral issues. Our session faced several tough decisions. Do we place the person under discipline? Do we simply let them go? (The person indicated that he or she no longer wanted to attend church.) How long to we let this situation go on? Long story short, my elder piped up with his simple counsel: “The situation is difficult but it looks like church discipline is what we have to do. It may be the tough thing, but it’s the right thing. So let’s do the right thing, and let’s pray that God will bless this course of action.” This wasn’t the only time that he said something like this, and I was grateful for it.
In the pastorate you will undoubtedly face many challenging circumstances and decisions—choices that will cause you great grief, stress, and anxiety. But if there is a clear but nevertheless difficult path, do the right thing. At the time, you may regret it, but looking back many years later, you will be thankful that you didn’t shirk your responsibility or take the easy way out.