Recently I had an email from a Pastor friend of mine. One or two years ago he had a couple in his church who were key leaders, who just left suddenly to go and do their ‘own thing’ somewhere else. It wasn’t done too well but whilst it was a painful process for them all, they managed to part amicably and that was that. Or at least that’s what he thought.
Then just a couple of days ago he read some comments on Facebook from someone who had visited that other persons church saying about how ‘brilliant’ the other person was; and to his great surprise something stirred in his heart that he didn’t even realise was there! He said he was so shocked by the ‘darkness’ that he found in his own heart that it kept him awake all night and in the morning he felt the need to write to that other person and in the most strongest terms possible to encourage him and affirm their ministry. What a great response! What a mature way to deal with it! I was so impressed with the way that he handled these feelings I had to write back and encourage him. If only we could all deal with the darkness that hides in the emotional baggage in such a way, maybe our radiance for God would be glow infinitely brighter.
Remember David led his life and his people not only with ‘skilful hands’ but also with a ‘heart of integrity’ (Ps 78:72). There is a lot of emphasis on skilful, strategic and visionary leadership nowadays but not so much on keeping a pure heart and clean hands in these murky issues of personal emotions and offense. It is all too easy for us to justify our position, attitude and feelings and move on, yet still carry all that stuff in our heart. The problem is that if we don’t detect and deal with those monsters who lurk beneath the surface we merely defer their re-appearance until the next opportunity arises for them to strike.
Like a dormant volcano, we all have stuff in our life that is just waiting for the right trigger to explode into the open. Bitterness, jealousy, rivalry, offense, pride, selfishness is all part of our human nature and the New Testament constantly highlights our battles against these things. What is important is that when they surface we take them seriously and respond in a way that will confront them rather then just suppress them. My friend’s actions were in stark contrast to his feelings. He confronted them head on and did the very opposite to what he ‘wanted’ to do. It was like injecting an antidote! He reacted by pouring pure water of grace, forgiveness and humility through the muddy water of his own personal hurt and offense. He strangled the beast and broke its power over himself and his ministry by acting in the way he did. I wrote back to him to encourage him. I told him that I believed that he would not only be freer than ever before in this area, but that he would also see increase in all other areas of his ministry because of it.
How do you deal with this stuff? Firstly, don’t feel guilty that you have some of this going on because everybody does to some degree or another, even pastors and leaders!! The important thing is that you take your own spiritual freedom and purity seriously enough to deal with it. Secondly, do something radical to counteract how you feel. For example, pray positively for that person who stirs up those bad feelings in you; send them a positive email if appropriate; speak a blessing over their life. Even if they are genuinely in the wrong and you think you have just cause to feel the way you do, bless them anyway! Become an antidote to the poison of resentment and bitterness that may be present in you even though you suppress it well.
The enemy of your soul is not concerned about how much Bible you know, or how long you can pray, or how many meetings you go to; if he knows he can stir up those suppressed emotions and feelings deep within you, the ones even you thought were in the past, then he know he can stop your spiritual progress in its tracks. Do not give him that control over your life and peace! Free yourself up from the tyranny of being the ‘victim’ and the need to ‘comfort’ yourself with negative feelings towards others. Stop hugging the pain! Speak life not death over those who get under your skin Choose to release the offense with grace, and act accordingly, and your joy will return in bucket-loads!
As I read my friends email I became acutely aware that the fact that he even recognised those feelings within him, and dealt with them in such a mature manner, speaks far more about where he is with God than any amount of good preaching or leading will ever do! Handling this stuff well is by far the the best indicator of a persons spiritual maturity and integrity. This is where your best growth takes place!!
Become a dragon slayer today and kill those monsters within you.