Occasionally I hear accounts where a person had a horrible thing happen to them and they visited their pastor who blew them off insensitively.
The last one I heard of was by a woman who was raped. She told her pastor who blew her off by telling her she probably led the guy on to do it.
Here are two observations I have about these sorts of stories:
1) Many of them are true. Many pastors are idiots. Also, some people say things and they think they are being clear and the pastor is not sure how to take what was said and insensitive things can be said.
Pastors make mistakes. I have said things to people I wish I could have taken back. It happens. It’s a bummer when these mistakes lead to harmful reactions. It is also unfortunate that people don’t talk to the pastor about these things and instead just leave and get mad.
2) People exaggerate to make their own problems seem worse than they are. I know many situations I have had with people where I know exactly what I said and it’s not the way they repeat the story to others.
One guy stopped coming to church because apparently I told him I didn’t like him anymore. Absolutely nothing of the sort was ever communicated to this guy.
People remember things in such a way as to make them look better, and, if it helps, to look more victimized. As long as their problems are other people’s fault, they don’t have to fix it.
One of these two reasons is behind these stories. I’ve been around long enough to know that pastors make mistakes. I’ve also been around long enough to know that people lie like crazy.
Next time you hear one of these stories, be careful how you respond. It may be true, it may not be. There are always two sides.