This may be a weird place to start a conversation about anger, but go with me for a second.
All of us have gifts. My wife has this great way of tuning into other people’s needs that is actually quite amazing. She is a fantastic care giver and will take care of others if she notices anything amiss. But that can be an incredible burden sometimes. Especially when it is seldom reciprocated. What is obvious to her is not obvious to others.
I have a different gift. It is called analytical, critical thinking. I can quickly assess systems for problems and weakness and sometimes analyze appropriate solutions. This is the strength that I lead with. I have applied my gift to all of the areas in my life I care about: my marriage, my family, my job, and my friends.
And the church.
It is my desire to see the church live up to Christ’s commission. It is what compelled me to attend Bible College and dedicate 25 years of service in the ministry. I have an innate passion for correctness in the church – my analysis of all we could be, yet are failing to be – that consumes most of my thinking life.
I have never found the perfect place or expression of all I think the church should be. Being a person with a natural gift for analytical, critical thinking has its advantages, but also comes with a burden. You see, my default view is to always see the systemic problem and want change. That is what makes me good at my job. What is obvious to me is not obvious to others and I get tired of waiting.
This is why I am angry. And anger may not be the right word for it. Maybe it’s a mixture of anger, frustration, and disappointment. Let me try to break it down into bite sized chunks.
I am angry because the people I love are being abused in the name of ministry.
Perhaps this is a story that does start with my childhood. I am a preacher’s kid (PK) and that means I have been an “insider” all of my life. My earliest memories always include me offering my life to God for His use. I meant it and He has. As a child, I saw my family move through various church situations always in pursuit of God’s will and plan.
It was tough in the early days of independent, Charismatic Churches. New-found freedom in the Spirit was not always exercised in a Christlike way. We seemed to often catch the brunt of that.
I remember the sacrifices. We didn’t have many possessions growing up, but God provided. What I didn’t know at the time is that sometimes the Pastor’s family is struggling because members of the church are withholding their offerings in protest. Thanks for that. Wow, you sure showed us. (After all, making sure an 8 year old goes to bed hungry is a small price for someone else to pay when you are standing firm in the truth!)
Ultimately, I learned 2 valuable lessons:
- Church people are a trip. They fortify their selfishness with Christian words.
- God is our true source and will take care of us.
I get angry when I see my friends (usually other insiders) being abused by the church they have given their lives to. I see it in the pastoral staff but I see it screaming from the tech team and support staff of most churches I know. This kind of suffering seems unfair, but I know it is the way of the cross.
If you work in the ministry, you know that God has called you there and you must stay on assignment until He says otherwise, but others can leave if they don’t like the way things are going. And that’s another reason I am angry:
I am angry because you are leaving. *
I know that sometimes seasons end. I left an abusive church and I’d do it again in a heartbeat, and tell everyone I know to leave. So what’s my beef?
I am so glad you have read a book that makes you want more of Christ. I am very glad you are contending for more and deciding to give God your all. I am so glad you found some blogs and like-minded people to talk about all the things that are wrong with the church.
Welcome to the party. It’s about freakin’ time.
Oh, and bye.
Now that you are on fire for God, I know you cannot stay here with us status quo dwellers. Never mind that we have been praying and fasting for you to cast off the slumber and ease induced by western culture. Never mind the fact that we have been interceding that you would prioritize Christ and become a true disciple. Now that you are, there is no place for us in your future.
I get it. I wish you well.
I hope you find what you are looking for in the magical church down the street that someone just left for the same reason you are leaving this one.
Relationships are a bitch. My faults are egregious. Your’s are gigantic. It’s easier to end this here and for you to move on.
I know God commanded us to love our neighbors, but it sure is easier to change neighbors than to change ourselves. So go ahead and quit. That’s what Jesus would probably do.
Too harsh? Perhaps, and that’s
another the main reason I am angry:
I am angry at myself for being so angry.
I know I am not supposed to be angry. I know that Moses was excluded from the promised land because he got angry and struck the rock. I know Jesus modeled a compassionate anger that is actually mind-boggling. I know that I am not very good at expressing my feelings, so it just comes out like anger.
Believe me I know.
I know that I carry with me, every time I look in the mirror, the marks of not handling things properly. I know that I have substituted over eating for not dealing with these feelings in the right way. I’m at fault. No one has to remind me of that.
I want to love as Christ loved. I want to see others through my Father’s eyes. I want my heart to beat in time with His heart.
But when I hear that certain frustration, that desperation for some relief, in another servant’s voice, I get angry.
I take a deep breath and exhale slowly and hope against hope that God will fix me, forgive me and give me the strength to keep fighting.
It might help to provide some additional context for this rant.
I do not think it is always wrong to leave.
Consider my other writings on this subject: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
And for another perspective consider this article:
Why I Love my Disappointing Church by Tom Lawson.