“An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.” (KJV).
As we come to the end of 2013, am celebrating 21 years that I have been in full-time ministry. The first 14 years were spent as a youth pastor in Surrey, BC (on the west coast of Canada), and for the past 7 years as a lead pastor in Beausejour, MB (in the middle of Canada). This past year has been the hardest one that I ever went through, and found myself getting so discouraged that I actually entertained the idea of leaving the ministry. Why? It all started with an angry man.
About a year and a half ago, a couple in our church in leadership got hurt, angry and offended. But instead of dealing with the offense with the person that had offended them (as Jesus instructed us to do in Matthew 18:15), they chose instead to begin to lie, slander and gossip about that person – and that person was me. It was today’s Proverb in action: “An angry man stirs up strife.” And stir up strife he did! The result of the lies he told about me was that many families in our church left – about 25 of the 150 people we had in our church.
I was hurt, confused and disillusioned. Here was someone that I had brought on my leadership team and poured my heart and life into mentoring for years, and in a moment of time – in one angry e-mail – he severed the relationship with no real explanation for what he had done. When I asked him what I had done wrong, he simply said, “I don’t want to talk about it, God will reveal it to you.” To this day, I don’t know what I did that got him so angry that he set a chain of events in motion that tried to destroy our church.
But I thank God for the awesome promise that Jesus gave me during the beginning of this ordeal: “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). I thank God for His grace that carried me through this challenging trial. If it wasn’t for His loving, providential care for me and my family, I am sure we would have walked away from the church and the ministry this past year. But God is faithful, and I thank God for many of our good friends in our church family who rallied around us, supported us, and stuck with us through the firestorm of lies and hate.
The second half of today’s verse says, “A furious man abounds in transgression.” Not only was the result of this angry man’s stirring up strife hurtful to the church as a whole, it also wounded the hearts of many people in our church – including families and even young youth and children. When anger is left unchecked, it becomes a destroying wind that wounds all of those in its path. It is a sin that leads to many other destructive and hurtful sins.
I thank God for Pastor Anthony Baker and the other contributors at Proverbial Thought who invited me to blog through Proverbs together with them a little over a year ago. As I have written devotional reflections in the Book of Proverbs over the past year, it has been very therapeutic for me personally as I have walked through this challenging time of ministry. Many times I have reflected upon a Scripture that has given me comfort or challenge when and where I have needed it. I pray that God would use His Word to encourage and inspire you in your life as well. As we head into 2014, I pray that you would make a commitment to get into God’s Word every day!
p.s. can I encourage you to pray for your pastors and Bible teachers? We are all in a battle, and we need God’s protection from the attacks of the enemy! Thank you… blessings to all of you today.
The 5 Minute Challenge – Bible Reading Schedule (At The Beausejour Pulpit Blog).