The Corinthian Christians were having difficulty adjusting to new leadership. In his first letter to them, St. Paul describes how transitions are a normal aspect of the life of Christians in community. His focus is upon the common purpose of building up the Church in its mission.
For when one says, ‘I belong to Paul’, and another, ‘I belong to Apollos’, are you not merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. – I Cor. 3:4-9I might have written it this way:
It is human nature for one to say, ‘I liked Fr. So and So’, and another, ‘I didn’t like Fr. Such and Such’. Both are Pastors who tried to help you in your journey of faith using the gifts the Lord gave to each of them. One planted seeds, another watered them, but the resulting growth came from God. So, it’s really not about the Pastor, it’s about God! Each of us Pastors has a common purpose and that is to help you have enough faith to do the work God has prepared for you to walk in. – I Ron 3:4-9I am not the Pastors who came before me. Nor am I the Pastors who come after me. God has gifted each one of us in different ways according to the leadership God desires the Church to have in a particular place and time. Each of us brings something different to the communities we serve. Each one builds upon the work of those who came before, so the changes each one brings are not intended to dismantle things. Instead, the changes are related to the common purpose we share and are to be understood as additions or enhancements to what has been. Our common purpose is to help you be the Church in mission. It’s not about Fr. So and So or Fr. Such and Such. It’s not about me. It’s about God and God’s mission of reconciliation in the world beyond those red doors.
Change is difficult for many people. We don't like it when something upsets the equilibrium and pushes us out of our comfort zone. So we resist and complain. Resistance to change, while human, can undermine the true spiritual discernment that has led to this union of Pastor and People, thwarting God's purpose. Most complaining about change when a new Pastor arrives constitutes avoidance of the real work to which God is calling the faithful. Valuable spiritual energy is wasted in an activity that is useless to the cause of Christ!
This time of transition is a unique opportunity for God to work wonders through divine interaction with the new relationships that are being formed. God is creating a new context in which to bring about growth. Trust God enough to invite your new Pastor and encourage one another to fully express the gifts God has given to help you be the Church. You will grow, the Church will grow, and the Kingdom of God will grow.
So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. – I Cor. 3:21-22