Just got off the phone with a broken hearted pastor friend of mine going through a brutal beating right now. (I got his permission to blog on this). He's a great man of God. I find myself extremely Blessed to never have been through what he's going through, but broken hearted for what he is going through. After all, he's a friend. Real friends feel for one another, good and bad. Don't get me wrong. I've had my disappointments, my hurts, my pains. I've felt as abandoned as the next pastor who poured himself into people, only to be hated for his decision/opinion/council.
But nothing like my friend is going through. He feels brutally betrayed. I've known him long enough to know his character and have 0 reason to NOT believe him. He's led a godly lifestyle and from a insane point of humility. He puts Christ first and his calling at a very high level. He's a servant/pastor to the core. He just feels betrayed. He feels forgotten, he feels abandoned.
If people are FUNNY, then people mixed with ministry is HYSTERICAL. The servant/pastor type can struggle with this as my friend is right now. It's amazing how you can literally be a hero one day, and totally despised and forgotten the next. I listened to my friends story and felt for him. I've talked to a lot of pastors who have gone through this. If my friends church really stopped to think of how much he loves, has sacrificed, and would do (and has done) anything for them, they would probably be embarrassed by their actions. They've forgotten his heart for them (haven't we all done this to someone at some point?). They don't like one thing, and they've let that one (non-essential thing) to define their relationship now. It's the sin of immaturity, and it can tear churches, but more importantly people apart.
I scrambled my brain for scripture as he was unloading his story on me. I couldn't think of anything! I couldn't think of one story, one Psalm, even Solomon abandoned me. So I listened, I encouraged, we prayed, and the only thing I could think of to tell him was the thing that should comfort us all when we feel we've invested and then feel abandoned.
3 powerful words.
You haven't seen more scandalous drama at a chicken coop since Gus was peddling the blue stuff at Los Pollos Hermanos (only breaking bad fans will get that reference). So Chick-fil-A picked a fight! But with who? Only logical foe is free speech, right? The past 72 hours have been exhausting (keep in mind, I am NOT super-political. I usually stay out of political rantings). But for the past 3 days I've been more annoyed at the radicals who hate, disappointed by the leaders of the church who remained silent (cause they normally love talking), and just plain tired of hearing from the "RELEVANT" christian voice. Because what do they really stand for anyway? I have read thoughts and articles that have made me want to puke (probably because what I was reading was regurgitated trash anyway. 1 article by Matthew Paul Turner said "5 ways the church failed" in the ChIck-Fil-A. (YAWN) I'm sure he's a nice enough guy with a great heart, but this whole "Jesus is love and would be fine with us the way we are" is really played out.
What I know is this. It's America, we are allowed our freedom. Speech is granted to ALL, and Christians are included. We are Christians, and indeed we are called to love. Love all, no matter who they are (judge not).
I also know this. I drove my 3 kids to a Chick-fil-A in Jersey yesterday to teach them these things and more.
I wanted to teach my kids a lesson. When we ended up (in Jersey) I began to tell them what a great country we have. That people can freely speaktheir minds, live their lives, and have their faith. I taught them that the standard for their lives should always be the Bible first, and they should never apologize for that. EVER.
I taught them that Jesus told us to love, and not just love those who agree with us, or believe what we believe. But true love...no strings attached. I told them that all people should be treated with dignity and respect. I taught them they should stand strong behind truth when asked and never water it down due to criticism, pressure, or persecution.
I taught them all this over a chicken sandwich....or 2...
I love biographies (thank you fios for the BIO channel). I can watch anything about anyone's life, and never get bored. Even movies based on actual events. Ever watch the movie, where the guy, or girl do the impossible. Where they were broke, but somehow found enough money ( I always wonder how?) to fly to wherever, meet whoever, fast forward to whenever, and they have magically accomplished whatever. Love it! For hours my mind wanders to the "in between scenes". The scenes that weren't dumped on the editing floor of a hollywood cemetary. The scenes where he/she was at their last dime, or at their ropes end. THAT'S where my mind goes.
Because people always have and always will matter to me. The human condition(s) are fascinating to me. I wrote in my journal (Man, over 10 years ago now) a prayer. The prayer simply went like this
I may not always matter to your people, but your people will always matter to me".
The very force that should drive a pastor, a child of God, heck a human, should be this very thing. People!
We can get so crazy of how well we can "lead" people, to "reach" people. Yet, we can really easily lose the point.
Its really not about how well you can lead people, but how well you care for people. If you can't communicate how much you care ABOUT people, you have no right to LEAD people. My biggest failures in ministry are not the programs, events, systems or creative things that flopped hard (I'm a try anything guy. We are bound to fail, bounce back, win, move on, fail, bounce back. Repeat ). But my biggest failures are the people who I failed to love, care for, and support to the best of my ability.
Its really a simple process.
1. Care alot
2. Don't stop
3. Care enough to disturb, anger, and PROVOKE people to be all God wants them to be. (dying techniques here).
4. Make sure your around people who care about YOU, so you can withdraw and deposit care. Number one way to STOP caring, is be at a point in life when you feel no one cares about you. They're out there. I promise.
We so quickly forget that we live in a world where the people (rich, poor, needy, angry, sarcastic, negative, improper, materialistic, ignorant, mean, shady, lying, sinful) people matter to God, and they should always matter to us.