I sat across the desk from the new pastor. "How do you feel about authority?" he asked, flipping open to one of many bookmarks in his Bible.
I was sort of on the hot seat, and I dug deep into my spirit for an answer. "It's good if it is from God." I replied in my most humble tone.
Jaw dropping silence.
Getting along with others in the Body of Christ can be most taxing at times. There are all sorts of personalities, levels of redemption and a bit of dysfunction in the church. Having the expectation of "grace" and "love" - err, "sloppy agape," can make relationship even tougher than those with the lost - where truthfully, we don't have much in the way of expectation. So sit back and prepare for your weekly Kingdom Blogger Extravaganza - a bonanza of ways to, and examples of, bearing with one another in love.
As a disillusioned young Christian man (read that adult child, milk sipping, believer of Christ), I was so impressed with Jesus, that I thought everyone had a similar experience to mine. I was wrong. I based my expectations of others on the example I received from the folks that brought me to Christ. I started to have my own ideas about church, thought up some more programs and believed whatever I heard from the pulpit. It's a recipe for disaster - and that I became.
The honeymoon was over, and the warm fuzzy feeling faded away after about three years. I had fought with the Devil, tried to study the Bible, and made some wrong decisions. I headed out into the desert and stayed there for nearly 7 years. I tried to keep my own brand of faith, but it wasn't working for me.
Winding the clock ahead, past seminary and Bible school, mission trips and hundreds of services and conferences, there I sat in the green leather chair looking at the new pastor. How could this happen again? I had desperately tried to get along, to obey the rules, and participate as a member. I even wore a suit and tie on Easter!
Just a week before I was pacing the back of the church praying, pressing in, sensing I would be used somehow. (I had a prophetic word about pastors calling me up to pray for others - even ones that didn't know me.) It had already happened a few times before. The entire service, both during the worship, the word and the announcements, I prayed. The sermon was on breakthrough and the old pastor got to the altar call when he invited the elders up to pray, and "you too" he said as he pointed at me.
I prayed for a bunch of folks and the power of God was really quite awesome that morning. I was listening to the instructions of my friend Holy Spirit, and the fruit was amazing. I finally came to one guy and his wife, and I saw this wonderful worship gift "on" him. "You play an instrument I asked?"
He nodded yes.
"Keyboard, right?" I continued. (No sense going on with an impression if your are out to lunch.)
"Yes, I just bought one and I haven't played in many years." He said. His wife seemed a little surprised at the conversation.
"Well, I believe that the Lord wants you to lead worship sometime." I continued. "And I know you think this is a coincidence, but the Lord told me that you drive a dark green Dodge pick-up truck with some silver or gray on the door. It has a cassette player that is broken, but you wanted a CD player when you bought it, and you listen to worldly radio - rock and roll even - not that rock is bad, but God would like you to praise him too."
OK, I am way out of my comfort zone and his wife thinks I was checking them out in the parking lot. I swear on a million Bibles, I had never met them, and didn't know a thing about them - especially that they were recently saved. He had never told anyone in church that he played keyboard, as he was thinking about writing movie scores, not playing worship on Sunday mornings.
That is what I love about God. He addresses the secret us, our longings and desires.
The man looked at his wife and said, "How would he know what type of music I listen to, and that I tried to order a CD player when the truck was new?"
Another trip to another pastor's office. There he had nothing to say about my response about authority. It was left there and he never picked his Bible up one more time during the meeting.
He sort of got into how the couple felt about the "word" I had for the husband. He was unclear of the above details.They thought maybe he had told me all about them, but actually, I never really talked to him before our little authority gathering..
At the end of the meeting, the pastor asked me to apologize to the man and his wife. And I did the very next time I saw them. I told him that is was presumptuous to have told him that God was going to use him in worship, and that I was sorry if I created a false hope in him, or his wife. Case closed.
It was a tough lesson for me - I thought I was right, but the pastor asked, and to bear with him, I did exactly as he asked.
Another time they were praying for a man in the hospital during the service. They took turns in leading tearful prayers. "Oh poor so-and-so" The leaders continued on thanking God for the life he had lived. LIVED!? I stood up and proclaimed, "He will live and not die!" I saw a picture of his aorta with a healing flash of light in my spirit.
The pastor fired back, "You better be right!" He was mad. Even though the man's family had been summoned to the hospital to say their goodbyes. He lived.
I apologized for my exuberance - especially in front of the congregation.
One Sunday we had some visitors from Iceland. I asked the pastor if I could share a word with them - one that he would be a witness for. He agreed - at least if I went off the deep end, he'd be right there to slap me. ;o) I didn't say "God said," or anything like that. I simply said, I see - "I see you teaching other pastors. He was nodding yes.(Turns out he was the leader of the Icelandic Evangelical Pastor's Association) I continued: "And working with your wife, I see you in a prison, like a prison ministry. It is a place in your life that goes virtually unnoticed."
The pastor stopped me - "He means like you are setting the captives free from the prison of sin."
The Icelandic man, said, "No pastor, I minister with my wife in the prison every week. Just the two of us."
We left the pastor's office that morning to go back to the sanctuary, and there on stage, was the man playing keyboards and singing praises to the Lord. It was awesome! A few months later he was asked to be the worship leader.
Wow! God is amazing!
This particular pastor is one of the most difficult people that I have ever worked with. Over and over we locked horns. I often thought of leaving, but the Lord would not release me. And so I stayed, watched people get healed, had a chance to prophesy, to teach, go on mission trips, lead home groups, play worship, worked with the youth and young adults - and grew up a lot. In the end, they blessed me and my wife and we left about 6 years ago.
Every so often, I visit the old church web site and I see that this keyboard player is still the worship leader.
God knows what He is doing.
How about you, do yo have someone at church that is tough to get along with? How do you deal with them?