Rules over People

Today, after 14 years with my denomination, and 7 years as pastor of Calvary Open Bible Church, I was fired.  I was fired by my denomination 30 minutes before I was to start the church service.  My ministerial credentials of 26 years stripped from me.  Why?  “Conduct unbecoming of a minister” being unable to rule his own house well (First Timothy 3:4-5).  My wife left my son and me 6 months ago.

Instead of a pastor, the denomination is bringing in “speakers.”  There’s a huge difference between “speakers” and a pastor.  The responsibility of a pastor is to guide, provide, and protect the sheep.  A “speaker” just . . . well . . . speaks and then goes back to whatever, wherever.

What does it say that a leader is more interested in applying a rule than in caring for a church of people?  Leaders more concerned with not transgressing the Sabbath than healing the sick (Mark 3:1-5)?  Getting to their destination instead of caring for the man beaten by robbers (Luke 10:29 ff)?  Keeping rules about work rather than feeding the hungry (Mark 2:23-28)?

Now there’s a group of wounded people.  A flock which saw their pastor destroyed before their own eyes, then left without anyone who knows them, who loves them, or who will care for them.  Speakers are a dime a dozen; shepherds are few and far between.

A hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.  I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep  (John 10:13, 14, 11).


About Richard L Rice

Just an ordinary, balding, blind guy, making my way to Heaven by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone. Richard L Rice has been an ordained minister since 1986, and pastored 6 churches. A graduate of Multnomah School of the Bible (Portland, OR) and Abilene Bible Seminary (Abilene, KS), Richard is the author of numerous books, including commentaries on Matthew, Romans, the Minor Prophets, and the Pastoral Epistles of Paul. He is the pastor of a congregation in Portland, Oregon, and serves on the faculty of the Berean School of Ministry in Tala, Kenya. He lives near Portland, Oregon with his wife Kimberly and son Daniel. Further details about him can be found written on the pages of his blog.
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5 Responses to Rules over People

  1. Angel says:

    Oh, my goodness Richard I am so sorry. While I was not a pastor, at one of my churches I was a leader in children’s ministry and I have a similar story to what you share here. It is a long story, but basically I was voted out by the elders and pastor to teach because my husband left me. Rumors were spread of me having an affair when I was not having an affair, and I was seen unfit to teach children. No one from the leadership, or elders ever asked me why he left or if any of the rumors were true.

    That very Sunday, the pastors son was anointed into position of Children’s pastor. He had moved back home, his wife left him and they were getting a divorce. I was utterly confused and devastated. While your story is clearly more deeply rooted and devastating for you and your church family I can empathize with your hurt. For me I felt very betrayed and confused.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  2. Noel says:

    Richard, this post reminds me of the bad experience I have had with churches. I have been a deacon, usher, youth leader, secretary of men’s ministry and have been disillusioned with what the church I worked so hard at turned out to be. The pastor was concerned more about his own agenda (ambitious about building a new temple, focusing more on appearances, greedy, etc -) More than half of the church members left the congregation. But the pastor left us first because all of a sudden he had a new calling (out of convenience) and moved out of town. He placed a young pastor (who was already doing ministering in another country) to replace him but this new pastor realized the old pastor’s selfish plans and refused to support his ambitious plans and started pastoring in his own way (or what God told him) . Anyways, this new pastor ended up fired simply because he did not continue “the vision ” that God gave the old pastor who left us. Me and my wife ended up following the new pastor who started a new church, only to leave this church also because we felt we were not growing spiritually. In overall we started visiting other churches but but have not felt we have found the right one yet. Right now we are not congregating at all. This is when I started questioning churches in general and started to seek God without it, which has been more fulfilling, ironically. I started to accept the doubts. I have always had and use them as tools to grow spiritually. If I am no longer a Christian for thinking this way I can accept that. But I know I am sincerely seeking God any way I can… even outside the church. I hope you continue to grow in God and maybe you will pastor again..but please feed the flock with what they need, not what you need (I think you know this already) God bless.

    • Thank you for sharing your own experience and the pain that you still endure. It is so very hard when people fail us, especially when it is God’s people. I just keep reminding myself that not all those who call themselves children of God really are and that Jesus has never failed me. It’s so hard to do, but our focus needs to be on Jesus more than on ourselves or those around us.

      You’re well aware that you’ll never find a perfect church – as long as there are people in it, but please be careful not to neglect good Christian fellowship and instruction in the Word (Heb 10:24-25). It may just be a few guys at work, a neighbor or two, or some folk you find online.

      One last word of encouragement. I know it’s silly, but just bear with me. If you lost your arm, and it was possible to go buy a new one at Target or Sears, you wouldn’t just take the first one you found on the rack. You’d try a few on for size. You’d examine the skin color to match the rest of your body, and maybe the muscle tone. You would keep looking until you found the arm – not the was like the one you lost, but the one that was best for you today. You can’t be a follower of Christ without accepting His body, the Church. No need to question the sincerity of your faith. You just haven’t found the right “arm” yet to attach yourself to. Keep looking. It’s out there, maybe on the bottom shelf in an unlikely place, but it’s there.

      I’ll be praying for you, and please let me know where the Holy Spirit leads you. And anytime you want to write in a more private setting, I’m here (

  3. Bob A. says:

    You were Karen’s 3rd husband. That should have been a bit of a warning signal. She was 7-8 years older than you with almost grown children when you married.

    Knowing how you struggled in your marriage for years, it is not surprising she left. She did say she would never take Daniel away from you…. she kept that promise…… but she also did not leave you years ago as she said she did not want to ruin your ministry….so, I guess things simply reached the breaking point for her, and she could not keep that promise.

    Did she leave you for another man???

    I am truly sorry that all this has happened in your life, but I must admit I knew Karen was never right for you, nor you for her.

    I will pray that the Lord direct you to where you are supposed to go and that you will indeed find a godly woman with whom you will be more compatible. Karen really does have many, many demons and issues she deals with.

    I will pray for her also to find PEACE. When I knew her, she never had any.

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