Conflict is inevitable in life. Even for pastors and church leaders, difficulties are not absent. Some shepherds go through such terrible times in their ministries that it is akin to losing a loved one. For the most part there has been a lack of helpful resources for pastors who find themselves in such situations.
Steve Swartz’ book Shattered Shepherds fills this gap. Drawing upon Scripture and his own painful experience, pastor Swartz deals with how a church leader ought to deal with the aftermath of a divisive and difficult situation in church.
I was privileged to be able to go to seminary with Steve, and I am thankful for this new book which will help many pastors deal with painful issues that they have gone through. I definitely recommend it as a resource for church leaders who feel pained by others in the church.
On the other hand, the book is really good guidance for dealing with conflict in church in general. Although the target audience is church leaders, because the principles Steve goes through are thoroughly biblical, the book can be used by anyone who has gone through difficult conflict with other believers.
The book is divided into two broad categories: part one deals with what you must stop doing (in the aftermath of conflict), and part two deals with what you must start doing.
The core of pastor Swartz’ encouragement is that the pastor who has been broken and abused must not blame others, worry, succumb to anger; nor must he view himself as a suffering hero or one worthy of grand defensive statements. Steve gives very humbling advice that the pastor ought to view himself with a meek and lowly attitude, as simply a servant of Christ. The pastor’s greatest struggle in the aftermath of difficulty is replaying conversations, worrying about outcomes, and trying to save face with other people. Steve rightly encourages the broken pastors to look to Christ and get the focus off of themselves. Yes, experiences such as this are incredibly painful. But that doesn’t have to be the focus.
In the second part of the book, pastor’s Swartz exhorts believers to keep their eyes on the sovereignty of God, to accept the loving discipline of the Lord (which is not even necessarily motivated by sin on their own part), prayerfully move ahead through forgiveness and the Lord’s grace.
Recommended by John MacArthur, Alex Strauch, and Greg Harris, Shattered Shepherds is a good read both for the church leader who has suffered, and for the church leader who is going to suffer. I am thankful Steve has blessed us with this blend of experience and applicable Scripture.
Thanks to Roger Festa and Kress Biblical Resources for provided a copy for me to review.