The Silent Killer

August 10th, 2010 Posted by 8 comments

This blog entry is contributed by our oldest child — a PK who has been hurt by the ministry.  Many of you will relate.

The Silent Killer

When I was 15 the church that my parents moved to Boise to pastor made a decision to merge congregations with another local body.  It seemed to be mutually beneficial to fuse our congregations together under one roof and my parents were certain that the Lord had placed the idea on their hearts in order to unify our parishioners.  Unfortunately, the merge did not last and so began an extremely painful journey through the land of church politics. Many people left both congregations and deserted the pastors and families they said they loved and supported.  Lies were spread, gossip abounded, friendships were betrayed, even a law suit was filed!  My parent’s reputation was tarnished and my father, many years later, gracefully stepped away from his original credentials even as leadership in the credentialing body continued to be dishonest about how events unfolded.

Leviticus 19:17-18
Do not hate your brother in your heart…

I was devastated by the spiritual carnage left in the wake of those who abandoned our church.  I had never witnessed people who claimed to be Christians treat others the way my family was treated.  Slowly, over the following years, more people’s feelings were hurt and more left for one reason or another and it all colored my view of the local church.  If there is such a thing as tar-colored glasses as opposed to rose-colored glasses, then I wore them consistently as I transitioned to adulthood.  The culmination of wounds left me a very broken and angry person but because every wound took place over years and for various reasons, I never really tied my anger back to a single starting point.  Instead, I was angry at everyone all the time.  Any time something was misunderstood, a complaint was spread around, or a church member started a fight over something as silly as a pew or a glass vase, I seethed with resentment; bracing myself for the inevitable fallout.

James 1:19-20
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires…

It wasn’t until I returned home for the holidays last year that I began to piece together the common thread that ran through seemingly random hurts:  I was an unforgiving person.  The culprit was not a person or entity or ideal that I had been hurt by.  No, the scars I proudly displayed were formed out of my own bitterness and hate.  Then I found out in early July that I would be returning home to Boise for my grandfather’s funeral and the funeral was going to be held in the church building that the merge and split occurred in.  Many people directly involved with the split were going to be attending the funeral and I was going to have to face my demons.  Suddenly I had a choice to make.  I could return home with all my walls up taking every look and every word as a reason to feed my anger or I could finally release my resentment and let it be buried too.

Ephesians 4:31-32
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you…

I won’t tell you that it was easy.  I am a very nostalgic person and it hurt to walk the hallways of that church building again.  I saw a lot of faces that at one time I never cared to see again.  I had to make a conscious decision to accept people’s words for what they were and not conjure up what they might have meant underneath.  I had to purposefully let things roll off me lest I make a big deal out of something that could be kept simple.  By the time I left town after several days later I felt like a piece of me had been left behind…a piece that I didn’t care to pack around with me anymore despite how familiar it had become.

Proverbs 19:11
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense…

Now several weeks later I find that I have quietly forgiven many hurts left in the wake of people simply being people.  I have also come to see that while I laid to rest much of my anger in Boise, I am not destined to live out the rest of my life in a void of emotion.  I will always have an opportunity to choose not to take up an offense or choose to love in spite of hurtful words and actions.  People make mistakes, they misunderstand and jump to conclusions.  Sometimes out of their own wounds they maliciously attack if only to make themselves feel better.   Either way, the silent killer of joy is not worth keeping around simply to justify how you’ve been hurt.  At the end of the day, you are the only one who can make yourself feel victimized.  Do not choose this path.  Instead, choose to live out God’s love victoriously.

Ephesians 4:26 (New Living)
And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry…



July 19th, 2010 Posted by 1 comment

This summer has been a wonderful season for growing things. A long spring with lots of rain gave way to hot summer days where everything flourished. Sporadically I spent time clearing one side of my lawn for a cutting garden. As always happens, other duties would intrude and several days would lapse between the weeding and planting. To my dismay, each time I returned, the newly cleared ground was rampant with thistles and weeds. It was a losing battle until I discovered the remedy was to not leave the patch bare. Immediately planting the empty space with flower cuttings and ground cover, left less area for weeds to gain hold.

In the same way, if we neglect ourselves spiritually, our hearts become just like my cleared garden plot. A root of bitterness can spring up in the rocky soil of hurt feelings; the weed of discontent will take hold when we don’t spend time in prayer and praise; and the snare of covetousness will rapidly take root in soil not cleansed by repentance. Like the weeds in my flower garden, that seemingly appeared overnight, little sins find fertile ground when our spiritual life has not been cultivated by the Word and prayer.

From the book, “The Power of Prayer,” by R.A. Torrey, some hindrances that keep us from setting aside time each day to pray are:
1. Idols in the heart (Isaiah 14:1-3)
2. An unforgiving spirit (Mark 11:25, Matthew 6:14,15)
3. Doubt (James 1:6,7)
4. Mistreating our spouse (1 Peter 3:1)
5. Unconfessed sin (Isaiah 59:1,2)
6. We don’t ask according to God’s will (James 4:3)
7. Stinginess in giving (Proverbs 21:13)

If you see any of these noxious plants appearing in your spiritual garden, you can find the perfect weed killer in Psalms 51:2 – “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Happy planting!


Power Struggles

May 10th, 2010 Posted by 9 comments

Here’s a newsflash for you: churches have power struggles. (I’ll bet you were surprised.) Often novice ministers are unprepared for this fact of church life. This is why a mentor is so important because it is usually at the first board meeting our husband’s discover that sheep bite, and that supremacy in a church’s power structure is very important to some members.

Church members sometimes take on the characteristics of children. This makes sense when you realize we are their spiritual parents. One of their childish practices is to pit one pastoral partner against the other. It can be done in several ways, but one is by seeking the power of private knowledge: “Do not tell anyone about this, not even your wife (husband).”

We have found it levels the playing field in church politics by rarely agreeing to keep confidentialities from each other. When Michael is cautioned, “Let’s just keep this between ourselves,” he generally inquires why. We are one before God and therefore feel that free-flowing information is important to our ministry. It doesn’t mean that we do share it, just that the confider needs to know that we might share it with our spouse. The advantages are:

1. It keeps someone from gaining emotional superiority. Knowledge is power, and manipulators exult in the feeling that comes from being privy to information even the spouse doesn’t know.
2. It keeps both our eyes open to what’s going on in the church.
3. Two of us praying over a situation are better than one alone. This does not mean that I know everything. Michael is very wise in knowing what information I can emotionally handle and what needs to be kept to himself. It is not that I have to or do know everything, it is that when a situation arises in which little antennas go up and common sense demands: why shouldn’t my spouse know this? that we civilly inquire, why not? Just something to think about.