Two stories of leadership from the best eldership I can imagine. The first story was several years ago. Highland was looking at the possibility of moving to a new facility. One wealthy member, who reportedly had decided we should move out of this neighborhood, offered to pay a substantial part of the building project if we moved. But the elders decided that we are right where God wants us to be (yes, right in the middle of an area that is NOT growing, where there are no new restaurants, where businesses aren't dying to move in, where office space isn't at a premium). They knew that numerical growth would be easier in another, newer part of town. But they also knew that the church isn't primarily about numerical growth (as experienced by most churches in America, where "growth" means moving to a new part of town, having the hottest worship, or offering the most services). Eventually that wealthy member left. The second story is from 10 years ago. A few months after Megan died, I asked people on a Wednesday night to listen to a song from Wayne Watson called "Home Free" that had ministered to us during the early stages of our grief. I was speaking on God's healing, and I love the line "at the ultimate healing we will be home free." A couple days later all the elders got a note that I hadn't seen or been told about. A VERY powerful member of our church (and a very good person) wrote them and insisted that I be fired. The implication was that he and his wife would leave if that didn't happen. The elders met, prayed, and assured me that they were fully behind me. And again, eventually, this wonderful couple left. These were people this church loved -- and still loves. (In a place like Abilene you have to understand that there is constant flow from congregation-to-congregation. If you held grudges against people who left, over a period of time you'd be mad at most people in town.) I tell these stories not because I'm mad at these people. I'm not. But here's the point: sometimes leadership means having to let people leave. It doesn't mean you're calloused; it doesn't mean you don't listen; it doesn't mean you run over people and their feelings. But on the other hand, isn't it time to quit letting disgruntled, uncomfortable people chart the course? Aren't there times when you have to receive criticism, try to negotiate the conflict, love, pray -- and even then let someone go? Even when it's painful? Even when it shows up on the weekly contribution? Even when people question your motives?