I’ve been meaning to write this for a couple of weeks now. You may have noticed that my Quiet Time journal has been more active lately. I started the year wanting to be in my Bible more, but thanks to the genuine concern of two friends I am more determined, and more excited, to do so.
A couple of weeks ago my minister and another deacon asked if I was free for lunch that week, so we set up a time. After a bit of trivial chatter, they told me that they had some things they wanted to talk to me about, some concerns. I’ve shared with them, as I have here with you, about my ongoing struggle getting into my Bible. I’ve not kept that a secret at all. They’ve not been critical or judgmental about it in the least, but supportive of my struggle and encouraging. Well, I guess they felt a little concern that a deacon in the church was somewhat publicly casual about his Bible study. Their concern was not one of my salvation or of judgment or for the reputation of the church. Rather, they felt that as a deacon, I had a responsibility to the congregation. The congregation should be able to feel secure in their leader’s knowledge, respect and involvement in the scriptures. It is perhaps a bit difficult to put into words here, particularly since in our past this conversation would take a different tone, but I was encouraged by their concern. It was born of love for me and for the church, period, no old school control and judgment.
And they were absolutely right. What kind of Deacon and leader can I be if I can go 6 months at a stretch without a focused time in the scriptures, but rarely 6 days without blogging? As a ‘regular Christian’ that would fall into the category of ‘less than ideal’ or perhaps ‘unwise’, but as a leader it’s selfish and irresponsible. I am not simply living for my own relationship with God, people in my church are looking to me for guidance, leadership and knowledge. It may shake (and has) their confidence in me to know that I am sporadic at best in my Bible study for months at a time.
In their challenge they were pointed, encouraging and hopeful. Our minister expressed his gratitude for our friendship and for my perspective in our leadership. I frequently feel like an outsider with some of my thoughts and ideas, so it was encouraging to have him say how he felt my perspective was valuable and needed. They also expressed a vision for me becoming an elder in the congregation at some point. It was a good talk, and it renewed my conviction to get into my Bible. For that I am grateful.
They weren’t done however. They wanted to ask about my blog. Evidently someone had searched for info on Ed Anton’s book and came across my site. That was pretty cool, I thought, but they were disturbed by some of the things I had written about our minister. (I’m not going to get into why the minister had to be the one to challenge me on this when someone else found it. That’s a post for another day, maybe.) I was perhaps a little defensive on this one. I assured him, I generally run posts by someone else, usually my wife, if I feel uneasy about whether it’s appropriate. I did concede that there may be some things from months ago that were less than favorable and I’d check. I certainly meant no offense.
Back at the office I decided to take a quick look. I was shocked and embarrassed to find a pretty recent entry that painted our minister in a decidedly unfavorable light. I had actually intended to compliment, but had instead insulted. How could this happen! Pride. I had failed to have anyone else read it first. The post has been edited (before he read it, thankfully) and I have apologized, but I do so again here publicly. Doug, I never intended to malign your character, name or reputation and I am sorry.
To the two of them, this second thing was the lesser of the two. I understand why, and perhaps they are right in the grand scheme of things. For me, however, it was huge for a few reasons. First, I was embarrassed to have committed such a public sin. But more than that, I was humbled and convicted by our minister’s reaction. He has accepted my apology without hesitation and told me that he completely trusts me that I was not out to harm. Not a word of disappointment or correction after the fact. I only wish I had given him that kind of trust in the past. I’ve been hesitant, critical and slow to trust him at times over the past couple of years. He’s born the brunt of the wounds in my history and he shouldn’t have. Were there perhaps reasons to withhold my trust or be skeptical? Perhaps there were, but he certainly has had at least as many reasons not to trust me and he did not hesitate to give me the benefit of the doubt when I had clearly failed him.
That’s two lessons in grace today, do you think God’s trying to tell me something?

9 thoughts on “Redirected

  1. Good for them. What a great example of mercy for us all to follow.
    Mat 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
    Alan

  2. Hey Doug,
    I am glad that you have recommitted to reading more. I hope that you are successful in your effort. I have enjoyed reading your Romans series, it is partly what inspired me to write about 1 Thess and get into my Bible more.
    As far as the blog, I think your criticism is mild, if that. It just depends on why you blog in the first place. If you are blogging to make other people happy, then write that way. If you are blogging to deal with your feelings, then I do not believe you should have to apologize for them.
    Anyone that I mention by name I have spoken to directly. Usually, if I haven’t spoken to them, I do not post it.
    I was not hesitant to post about my turmoil with encouragement partners, but other posts about my church’s present situation are simply not available publicly. I stated publically in the pulpit several things while I was on the leadership team, so the stuff about Kip, the old ways, d-partnets, etc, are extensions of things I’ve already said publically.
    I respect that you weren’t shut down. I respect your humility in dealing with the blog situation – your minister perpetuated gossip at worst, or co-dependency at best. The person offended should be the one talking to you.
    Keep up the blog, Doug. I enjoy reading it.

  3. I can’t remember slamming stuff but I am not the person being being affected and come from a different prespective. And, I trust that if you think it needs changing then it should be. And, I believe that when you post stuff of consequence it’s after you’ve talked to that person about it, (and aren’t gossiping), and thought and prayed about it. I think the hearts of Christians need to be protected too so that needs to be taken into consideration. But then you gotta ask yourself why you blog. Isn’t it kind of to share your heart, get things off your chest and be open to an extended family group throughout the world? I get corrected when I post something that’s wrong how much more you? That’s pretty humble I think?
    Kudos on the scripture reading challenge, kudos on the humility and kudos for them on how they approached you. But, I aggree with pinakidion that the minister at worst perpetuated slander and at best gossip. Its a conviction of mine than one of the “corporate sins” of the COC was that the gossip and slander perpetuated under the “corporate charter” of “seeking advice” was and is sin. And, at the very least, the question needs to be asked did you talk to him first and who else did you talk to? What if that person went and told others that you slammed your minister but they didn’t read it for themselves or see your repentance? Anyway, it’s congecture, but this stuff gets me a little riled up.
    Never the less, it doesn’t matter what others do to you you still need to do the right thing.

  4. Thanks everyone.
    Pinakidion – Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. I was a little defensive at first because this is a medium for my thoughts and feelings, good or bad, and I don’t want to have to get approval before posting. That’s not what they wanted either, but merely felt that with items like that dealing with other folks, be careful and run it by someone first. I cannot forget that it is also a public forum. The words I edited were not because someone else didn’t approve, but because they made me uncomfortable that I had written them and published them.
    As far as how it was handled, I am disappointed in that but I didn’t want to get into it and distract form the more important issues at hand – mainly my sin. 🙂 Frankly, my beef there would not be first with my minister. In the chain of folks (and there were three others, unfortunately) from the discovery of the words on my blog to me, he was the only one to bring it to me. Each of them could (and should) have, but only he did. For that I am grateful. What I wish would have happened is that the individual who discovered it (a leader in another congregation) would have just come to me in the first place, my email is on my site. By having this pass through four people before it reached me made for opportunities for hurt feelings, mistrust and criticalness. Thankfully my minister was very gracious and forgiving, but there are still three other people who know of my sin and may know nothing of my apology or repentance. Hopefully it’s only those three. I plan on contacting this brother about this myself.

  5. I understand that you want to focus on what, in your conscience, is a sin. I am glad that your minister came to you and said something.
    I do not want to detract from your main point, but I am sorry that someone else in another city felt the need to ‘tattle’ on you. Good news is that it seems to have produced some open and honest communication with your minister. That point shouldn’t be minimized.

  6. I appreciate your humility as a disciple of Jesus to deal with your own heart first. I also appreciate your minister and this deacon’s desires to not hold things against you.
    That said, I find it quite disappointing that a leader in a church felt compelled to gossip about you behind your back and find it a tad scary to think of the direction such a person might be “leading” his congregation. It just reaks of Old School ICOC: this is exactly how things like this were *supposed* to be handled. Protocols, chains of command. Gag. 🙁
    Perhaps when you ask them, you may find that your deacon friend and/or evangelist already questioned this person as to why they went behind your back.

  7. Just to be clear, though I don’t know the details of the entire means of this getting from that leader to my minister, I do know that it wasn’t the old ICOC leader in Church ABC calling leader of church XYZ to tattle on a member. I can now see how I may have given that impression. I think it was an honest mistake, a case of not watching the tongue carefully. It was definitely not “Bro, I need to tell you what one of your deacons is doing, you need to talk to him.”

  8. Dang, since Pink apologized for making a mountain out of a molehill, I have to, too, or I’ll look bad. ‘And for jumping to conclusions, too…
    “I don’t feel mahvelous, but I look mahvelous, which is okey dokey with me ’cause you know my credo, it is better to look good than to feel good, you know what I am saying?”
    — Fernando, “Fernando’s Hideaway”

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