One of my closest friends is a pastor in the
area. Thatâ€™s all Iâ€™ll tell you about him because some people just have to play, â€˜Inspector Clouseauâ€™ and trackâ€™m down. If thatâ€™s you, you have WAAAAY too much time on your hands. Georgia
Anyway, my friendâ€™s been through a lot lately with some power hungry elders. I feel for him and every other minister who gives everything they have for the body of Christ only to see one or two self deluded individuals claim that God told them itâ€™s time for their pastor to hang up his pulpit.
I was just seething with righteous indignation as he told me what these men had done not only to him but also to his family with their slander and gossip in the church.
Did I mention that this guy is one of the godliest men I know? Weâ€™ve followed each otherâ€™s ministries for years. These self appointed prophets of doom arenâ€™t worthy to chew the gum off the bottom of his Tevas! Nevertheless, heâ€™s shown mind boggling patience and grace to these ungrateful power grabbers.
The good news is that the trouble makers are finally goneâ€”kicked out by a couple of godly leaders with backbone. The bad news is that the rat pack has decided to threaten to lob one final grenade on the way out.
What is it you ask?
Remember â€œFriday the 13th?â€ That was nothing compared to this.
What about Freddy Krueger?
For some in Christian circles, by far the most scary thing imaginable isâ€¦
If a pastor stays true to the Word and makes the tough calls, inevitably, some unbalanced individual is going to throw the â€œLetter Card!â€ Iâ€™ve had so many thrown I can almost start my own deck!
Because thereâ€™s no arguing with the truth, so these modern day zealots sometimes feel they have little recourse but to prop up their otherwise hopeless and ungodly behavior with a letter campaign. After all, we live in a culture that often goes with the majority. If you can get some numbers behind you, who needs the truth? A lie is juicier and far more exciting than the plain old, boring facts. Itâ€™s why slander makes the front page of every newspaper while retractions usually get tucked away near the classifieds.
But then hereâ€™s the rub. Ninety-nine percent of the time the letter(s) never arrive. Rarely one might come through from a non Christian, but the backslidden believer usually thinks twice. It would seem most of them come to the logical conclusion (in a rare moment straying from illogic–somewhere between seething anger and the post office) that the very act of sending out the old, â€œTo Whom it May Concern,â€ starts them off in a very deep hole. You see, most people perceive that an individual who would do this for nebulous reasons at best, is usually the one with the problem.
So I encouraged my friend that in my opinion they were just blowing smoke. I told him to hold fast to what God told him to do to handle the ungodly behavior and that, IMHO, the letters would never materialize.
He seemed doubtful.
So I asked the logical follow up?
Joe? (Not his real name), honestly, is this really the first time some disgruntled person has promised to shower the congregation with their hand written pearls of wisdom?
â€œWell,â€ he replied, â€œNot really. Actually, Iâ€™ve had this happen a few times before.â€
And?â€ I continued.
â€œNothing came of itâ€¦
But this is different!â€ He insisted.
â€œNo itâ€™s not,â€ I stubbornly pressed. â€œItâ€™s not different at all. Itâ€™s just fresh, so it feels that way. And whatâ€™s more, in a way, if he actually did send it out he would be doing you a favor. Havenâ€™t you ever heard the saying, â€œBetter to close oneâ€™s mouth and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt?â€
These types of letters tend to remove all doubt more affectively than anything. Itâ€™s not biblical. Itâ€™s not the way God tells us to handle conflict (Matthew 18), it reveals a total disdain for the body of Christ and the unity and harmony Jesus commands His followers to protect, itâ€™s actually slander, and as such is a prosecutable offense and, finally, itâ€™s the ultimate cowardly act.
But Joe still had some questions.
Anyone ever threaten you with this?â€
“Dozens of times,â€ I told him.
â€œI guess the post office lost them.â€
“Actually,â€ I continued, â€œIâ€™ve had some go to a few folks.â€
He looked horrified.
The people of Southbrookâ€”especially the leadership, rallied behind me and the vision God his given us more than ever.
Joe decided to give it to God.
A month and a half ago!
Today heâ€™s doing better than ever and can hardly imagine why he ever gave it a momentâ€™s thought.