Monday, March 1, 2010


Often when people are fondly recalling their former preacher – repeating something he said, or telling how he did something, someone will say, “They have preacheritis.” Certainly Paul addressed the harmful allegiance to men that was causing division in the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:1-15). It is not right to follow a human instead of Jesus. It is not right to cause division in the church because of personalities.

However, it may be that some people are dealing with the loss of a preacher, a brother in Christ, a friend, in a normal way.

Does a woman who is depressed, angry, disoriented, sad, and crying have “husbanitis” after her companion of twenty or more years is buried?

Did Job‟s wife have “oxenitis,” “donkeyitis,” “sheepitis,” “camelitis,” and “childitis” when she said to her very sick husband, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9)? Years ago, I was critical of Mrs. Job for this statement. But I have never attended the funeral for all my children in one day in addition to going from being one of the richest persons in my community to loosing every investment and the health of my companion in a short time.

Did Mary and Martha have “brotheritis” when they individually said to Jesus when he came to visit, ““Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32)?

The normal human reaction to loss is grief. To deny people the right to work through their feelings of sadness, anger, fear, and jealously or their feelings of joy, guilt, and frustration (depending on whether that person is the one who wanted the preacher to go or stay) is to create an atmosphere to act out in an unhealthy way what could have been talked out in a mutually beneficial exchange. It may be that listening and asking questions to allow more talking would be more helpful than being critical and assigning a negative label to the person talking about their recently departed preacher.

This is one of the benefits of interim ministry. A trained interim sees complimentary comments about the previous preacher as a normal part of the transition process and is not threatened. The interim preacher does not come to replace the previous preacher. He is working in the congregation in the in-between-times. Part of the service of an interim is to “be there” to allow time for grief and adjustment after a long ministry or during a time of conflict.