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I Failed You as a Leader (Again)


Recently, I had a brief phone conversation with a woman in our church. (Well, apparently, she’s not in our church anymore.)


“Hey, this is Kurt! Just callin’ to see how you’re doing. It’s been a while since I’ve seen you. I know, all things Covid considered, that lots of folks have been out and watching online. But I just wanted you to know I was thinking about you, and you are loved and missed!”


“Please don’t call me again!”


Awkward silence.


“Uh, have I done something to offend you?”


“Because of Covid, I’ve been gone from Eastpoint for almost a year, and this is the first call from you or anyone!”


“Wow, I am so sorry . . . .”


Before I got “sorry” out of my mouth, she hung up on me.


I wish I could tell you I’m confident and secure enough to handle rejection.


I wish I could tell you this is the first time someone has been upset with me as a pastor.


I truly wish I could tell you that I’ve done an incredible job pastoring our people during the worst crisis I’ve ever experienced in over forty years of ministry.


But in so many ways, I’ve disappointed and upset so many people this past year.


  • The anti-maskers are mad at me for requiring masks at one of our services.


  • The maskers are upset with me for not requiring masks at all our services.


  • A group thought we should have stayed closed and at least stopped singing in our services. (I wrote about that here.)


  • Another group felt like we should never have closed at all (even for the few weeks we did).


  • Oh, and did I mention those who are upset with me over not saying enough about our country's racial tensions and recent political situation?


I quit trying to please everyone a long time ago because it's a foolish endeavor. As Aristotle once said, “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” Yep.


So, for the most part, I live to please an audience of one—Jesus. But I’ve never had to face a season like this before.


I had lunch with another pastor in town yesterday. We sympathized with each other over how it has felt like a lose-lose scenario for leaders during this Covid season. No matter what we pastors do or don’t do, big groups of people are frustrated and ticked off.


Sadly, the division in our country has seeped its ugly spirit into the Church.



Forgive me if I sound like I’m whining because that’s not my intent, but it’s been a tough year.


Speaking of forgiveness, here are some things I’m begging you to consider:


  • I believe it’s time to heal.


  • It’s time to forgive and set others free from our wrath.


  • It’s time to reconcile and reunite families, churches, and our nation.


  • It’s time to move forward as best as we can.


Please forgive me for not leading better.


Please forgive your parent, spouse, or adult child for anything hurtful or harsh they’ve done.


Please forgive yourself for any poor choices you made during this trying season.


Forgiveness literally means to “untie the knot,” meaning we release others from our right for revenge and from our personal judgment. Instead, we choose the path of mercy and grace.


And that choice isn’t based on our feelings or emotions, but on one thing: We forgive others as God chose to forgive us while we were still messed up and trapped in our sins.


By the way, the alternative to healing and forgiving is to stay bound in our anger and disappointment. But trust me, that path of unforgiveness isn’t good for you or anyone.


I truly am sorry for your angst and pain, especially for any part I had in your suffering.


By now, if you know me, you should know that I am far from perfect, a recovering idiot, and yet madly in love with Jesus.



And for the record, I have failed, I am failing, and I will fail in the future as a human and as a pastor.


I don’t say that glibly or without a sharp pain in my heart, but I’m doing my best to live shame-free because I’d rather be in process than stuck in unforgiveness.


So, I’m working on the godly choice to walk in forgiveness. How about you? Will you forgive those (like me) who have offended you?


And if you are a fellow leader in the Church, press on, and forgive yourself. I cannot promise easier days ahead, but we have all we need in and through Him. That’s God’s promise made to broken people like you and me.


“Keep your head up and your eyes fixed on the future before you.”

Proverbs 4:25 (Bubna Paraphrase Version)

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Kurt Bubna

Kurt W. Bubna has published seven books, is an internationally recognized blogger, conference and retreat speaker, as well as an experienced life and leadership coach. Bubna has over forty years of experience working with individuals, teams, and a wide variety of business and non-profit organizations.

This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. KurtBubna

    Cary, no one is lying, and I take the encouraging words from others as just that–encouragement. That being said, and speaking of referring people back to what my blog was about… it was a call to unity, forgiveness, healing, and moving forward. Please make sure your comments in the future support those goals. And if you’d like to discuss this further, please give me a call. Thank you.

  2. Bill Hart

    You are a great leader, and keep in mind you cannot please everyone. Some may not like your sermon one day, and others may love it. Personally, I feel if you were to reach out and check in on everyone, you would not have time to prepare for the next service. Also, the phone works both ways, if they were bothered by something last year, they should have spoken of it then, and not a year down the road.
    You are in a difficult position being the leader and trying to please all, but there is only one you need to please (no not me) lol.

    1. KurtBubna

      Thanks, Bill. Love you brother!

  3. Sue Tarmann

    First of all……you didn’t fail us. Maybe some of us failed you. I think sometimes we get so busy with our lives that we don’t pick up the phone and call someone to check on them and see how they are doing. That is meant as an encouragement to ALL of us to keep in contact with our church folk. Also, the phone line runs both ways. and obviously there are many things going on there, just not the fact that you hadn’t called her. I’m praying for her and all of those that are so angry over things that have been so askew over the last few months that they can find healing and peace from the one and only……JESUS.
    We are praying for our church and it’s leadership as well as all of the churches and leadership in our country. Casting out division., praying for unity and giving grace in everything around us.
    Praise the Lord Always…sue. and reed.

    1. KurtBubna

      Thank you for your prayers, Sue. Love you guys so much!

  4. Kev

    I wish I could say that as brothers we never had a fight growing up in the same house – but we did, plenty. I wish we could say that as adults we never disagree – but we do, sometimes. I wish we could say we never hurt one another – we have. The one thing that I’ve never had to worry about is that regardless of the pain we may have caused one another, in the end, you are and will always be my brother. We are undeniably part of the same family. My dad was your dad. My mom is your mom. I only wish that when those in God’s family have disappointments in one another that they would remember one thing – they are family. We have the same Father. We are born of the same blood – the blood of Jesus. We have been forgiven much and we must forgive much – this side of heaven. I love you dearly big brother. Nothing will ever change that.

    1. KurtBubna

      Wow, Kev, well said and very true. Proud to call you my brother. In times like these, I am always drawn to Jesus’ prayer for unity (John 17). Love you so much, bro.

  5. Mark Howard

    Dude (aka Pastor Kurt),

    Two words……YOU ROCK!!!

    Your leadership through this last year has helped me get closer to God more than any other season of my life. That’s a pretty good testimony in my book.

    We have a little saying in the military world, “There’s only one direction, forward”. YOU keep leading and WE will keep following.

    Drive on airborne!!!

    1. KurtBubna

      Mark! I love you and your heart so much! YOU are a blessing! Thank you for the very encouraging words.

  6. Kay Anderson

    Kurt, I am so sorry that you get blamed and skewered during this very difficult season. Even though the pandemic seems to be letting up with the vaccine, (please, God, make it go away!) so many have been shaken and are in the middle of mental, emotional, family and physical results of this trauma. They are not themselves–or their usual selves.
    My pastor, Russ, has spoken of this in his sermons. It is as if pastors are each wearing a target on their backs and it is open season for venting and blaming behaviors. Russ says that this happens because pastor are safe and don’t retaliate.
    I will be praying for strengthening for all of you who are in this position, and also that God will actually bring good out of this pandemic, especially opportunities for loving our neighbors, and the bravery and boldness to introduce them to Jesus. It would be amazing to see many children added to our Father’s family in this time and a revitalization of His Church!
    God Bless and Keep You! Kay

    1. KurtBubna

      Thank you, Kay. Your pastor, Russ, is a wise man. Appreciate the prayers. You are loved.

  7. KurtBubna

    Thank you for your thoughts.

  8. Dawn

    Pastor Kurt,

    Keep your head held high and remember that Jesus WAS perfect (Still is, I’m talking in His human form) and couldn’t please everyone. If others can’t handle compromise in uncertain times, that is sad. I feel this person is feeling a lot and simply took it out on you.

    I find it funny that people expect someone from a church to reach out to them, but don’t think that they could have reached out first, checked on the church leaders, or even offered to organize a check-up phone tree. Especially considering the ratio of staff to parishioners. Our society creates victim mentality and to be a victim, one has to assign a villain. You are not the enemy; Satan and his whispers are. Conflict comes from unmet expectations, but it is unfair when one doesn’t articulate their wants and needs.

    Thank you for continuing to lead despite harshness from others and for being authentically you. Thank you for being an example of what it looks like to love and follow Jesus and for keeping it real.

    P.S. Leaders only fail when they stop caring, so you haven’t failed. You simply created a learning opportunity.

    1. KurtBubna

      All is well, Dawn. As I wrote, my biggest concern isn’t me, but unity. Pray for peace. Thank you for your loving words.

  9. Linda Blehm

    Good Morning Pastor,
    Thank you for being a strong and mighty man of God. You are an awesome leader of a people who need to remember that you are one person in a huge pool of people. I know you didn’t post this to have anyone say poor Pastor,……. there are people who forget that they need to take a step/direction to reach out as well. The phone works two ways. You do what the Lord gives you direction to do and you do it well. Never ever on the earth will any Pastor be able to make everyone happy. Our precious Lord went through the same thing and the people that take on offenses instead of seeking the Lord and Praying for their Pastor will never be happy no matter what you do or don’t do. Sooo my Awesome Pastor you stand strong and mighty in the Lord and get a Starbucks. I love you and Laura and am so blessed that I have you in my life. Thank you both for giving to the Lord. I am a life that has been changed. (love that song)

    1. KurtBubna

      Hi Linda, you are too kind. Jesus is my model and rock. You are loved!

  10. Cindy Kelly

    Dear pastor, I hear you , I see you . This is what God dislikes ! People to place their focus on man and not Him . Yes you are our pastor but under God. We all to often place high expectations on Christians and the ministry team . It’s our responsibility to communicate with one another when we have been offended , and hurt . To cry out to God for how to proceed and when to communicate. You are right that we have one who we need to be caring to please . The rest then shall fall into place . God made you aware of this person who has been hurt and you were obedient to His leading . I will pray for this poor soul to cry out to God for healing . We cannot place high expectations on man because we will always be hurt and disappointed if we do . The one and only who never disappoints us is Christ Jesus. May we as the church grow up in forgiveness, forbearance, humility, and love . Thanks for your humility and honesty. Love ya! Keep pressing onward!

    1. KurtBubna

      Hi Cindy, yes God hates (according to Prov. 6) the sowing of discord, and Jesus prays for our unity (in John 17). Love and appreciate you.

  11. Bruce J Bowen

    If only it were all so easy. I have been reading a book by Charles Spurgeon called ” Eccentric Pastors” where he shares his own struggles as a pastor and defends others, even those he has theological differences with. He sees each as truly loving the Lord and doing a good work under trying circumstances. I see him saying the same about you.

    1. KurtBubna

      Thank you, Bruce. I’m going to see if I can find that book. It sounds timely. Love you guys!

  12. Scott Adare

    Kurt, my wife and I attended a couples retreat you led in Whitefish several years ago. I’ve followed your blog since. Some thoughts on this post: 1- pre-COVID: 1) you might never phone a person you saw at church(and possibly said hello to) most Sundays. I’d say there is more anger in this person, than that justified by your delay in reaching out. God has assigned someone else to deal with that issue, and it is no longer your job. Be at ease.
    2) you said “right for revenge”. Is revenge a right? I’ve never thought of it that way. Next time you are searching for a blog topic I’d like to hear more on the right to extract revenge! After all, wouldn’t we all like to feel righteous upon taking revenge?

    1. KurtBubna

      Hi Scott, thank you for following my blog all these years! BTW, I wasn’t suggesting we truly have a “right for revenge” but that we tend to believe we do have that right. Anyway, thank you for the encouraging words.

  13. Holly Webb

    Love you Kurt! You are real and full of wisdom. Thanks for being our pastor and friend. We think you are doing a fabulous job navigating these crazy times.

    1. KurtBubna

      Hi Holly, I do try. 🙂 Love you guys too!

  14. John N Guarisco

    why do so many judge when there is only one that can! I Love You Brother! I appreciate you!

    1. KurtBubna

      Hey John, good question. Tough times. Harsh world. But all is well. Let’s do coffee soon!

  15. Peter

    Very tough to see people you are suffering for becoming so resentful against you. However, forgiveness of yourself and others is the sure godly way. Thanks for sharing to encourage us. May God bless you and help us

    1. KurtBubna

      Thank you, Peter. Lot’s of hurting people. I’m trying to be like Jesus and not take it personally. Pray for me!

  16. Lynn Tobert

    I love your words untie. We are so bound up in everything and when I read these words I just relaxed. Thank you. Blessings for all you do. They are very appreciated.

    1. KurtBubna

      Love you so much, Lynn. Thank you for being such a faithful part of Eastpoint for almost 19 years! You’re amazing.

  17. Rod

    I think you have done a commendable job! With all the changes day by day almost, by the government and health organizations, you could never be right in everyone’s eyes.

    1. KurtBubna

      Thank you, Rod. It has been a tough year. Thank you so much for your faithfulness the entire time.

  18. Mahala Wiggen

    In love and faith never give up on us. You are one of God’s patient patient servants.God bless you and love you

    1. KurtBubna

      I can never give up on anyone because Jesus never gives up on me! Love you, Mahala!

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