Buyer’s remorse for pastor search committees

By Marion D. Aldridge

questionmarkASSOCIATED BAPTIST PRESS — Members of pastor search committees often experience buyer’s remorse. Buyer’s remorse is when a person or a family has made a large purchase — a house or a car, for example — and then begin to second-guess their decision. Regret sets in.

“Maybe we spent too much…”

“Maybe this isn’t the right location…”

Maybe this. Maybe that.

I have noticed (and experienced) that pastor search committee members are sometimes afflicted with buyer’s remorse. It is not unusual for a pastor’s first adversary in a church to be a member of the committee that extended the call. The committee has invested a lot of time, energy and emotion in making a good group decision. They stood up and testified before an entire congregation that this was the person the Lord led them to choose. The attributes of the candidate are listed. He or she is portrayed as the epitome of a pastor with all the right skills — a good preacher, excellent reputation as a pastoral care provider, superior administrator, and exemplary family life.

Then, the new pastor arrives and turns out not to be perfect. Sermon content and delivery is OK, but not great. Hospital visits aren’t as frequent or as long as expected. The pastor seems to be spending money in ways that were not approved in the budget. The former pastor would have done things differently.

Buyer’s remorse sets in.

I believe you can’t move forward until you have diagnosed or named a problem. The pastor might have issues about which the congregation needs to be concerned. However, buyer’s remorse is the shopper’s dilemma. In this instance, buyer’s remorse is not about the product, not about the new pastor; its root cause is usually fear, which is a spiritual matter. Worry, anxiety, embarrassment and shame are all about the person experiencing those emotions, not about another individual.

My hope and prayer is for members of pastor search committees, when their task is complete, to relax, to show grace for themselves and their new pastor. They are no longer personally responsible for what happens next. They have done their job.

Marion D. Aldridge is a popular preacher, public speaker, workshop leader and an award-winning writer. Author of numerous books and hundreds of articles on topics ranging from religion to sports to travel, Aldridge’s interests are wildly eclectic. He has invested a lifetime in discovering what it means to be a citizen and participant in God’s wonderful world. Aldridge is at home, whether having High Tea at Harrods or rafting on the Chattooga, or worshiping at our planet’s holiest shrines.



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