Friday, 18 January 2013
A tale of Two Persons
One day a person approached me for help and counseling. He was a pastor and a young graduate from the seminary. He was working under a senior pastor who had been helpful to him earlier but now had turned against him. I suggested that he could choose to leave the church and serve God elsewhere. He informed me that this pastor had offered him a scholarship from the church on the condition that he would serve the church as a junior pastor for five years after he completed his studies.
After working with the senior pastor for three years, the young man told me he would rather die than stay on for another two years. He explained that the senior pastor had been exploiting him by making him to do far too much work. This young pastor would be asked to prepare an article for the monthly bulletin, and then, when the bulletin was printed, he would see the senior pastor’s name under the article. He would be asked to prepare sermon outlines for each Sunday, and the senior pastor would modify the outlines and use them as his own messages.
He went on to outline the pastor’s other bad traits. The more talked, the more angry and hateful he got. He ended his tirade by telling me that he was having problems of ulcers in his stomach and experienced a lot of fatigue.
It requires a tremendous amount of emotional energy to maintain hatred, bitterness, and resentment. I asked the young man whether he believed in the Bible verse that says “All that happens to us is working for our good” (Romans 8:28). He said, he had preached several sermons from the same verse. I asked him whether he agreed to my understanding of this verse, that ‘all that happens’ also included his senior pastor, which would mean that this man whom he hated so much would be of great blessing to him. The young man could not agree that God was using this senior pastor for his blessing and good future. I asked him whether he was not personally benefited by the preparation, research, and studies involved in writing articles for the bulletin and preparing sermons for all the Sundays.
But he didn’t seem to hear me. He just kept on talking about all the mistakes the senior pastor had made. Finally I told him to accept the senior pastor as a precious person sent by God to shape his character and sharpen his abilities. After a long time of discussion, the young pastor agreed to try out what I said.
As we prepared to pray together, I asked him to pray for strength to see the senior pastor as a precious person sent by God and allow God to change his attitude so that he can really praise God for the older man. We closed our eyes, but then the young pastor opened his eyes and said: “You say God is using the senior pastor to produce changes in me. Don’t you think changes are needed in the senior pastor also?”
That is a mistake we often make. While God is using someone on us as a tool to change our attitude and character, we want to see changes in them and at times, we even try to remove them from the scene. This results in a lot of bitterness and hatred. The junior pastor admitted that when he preached, he was trying to preach at the senior pastor in the guise of addressing the whole congregation. I asked him whether he succeeded. He said he was a miserable failure and he could not even enjoy his lunch after the sermon because of the cold response from the older pastor!
I told him that while it would be possible for God to use him or someone else to produce changes in the senior man. He began to weep like a child, and confessed that he had been wrong in his behavior. He had never thought of the other man as God’s tool to bring his life into shape. He confessed his mistakes to God and went back home. Later he wrote me a letter saying that he was reconciled with his senior pastor. “And”, he wrote, “my health has improved”.
No wonder! When your attitude is changed and the bitterness is gone, your health also improves. I received another letter from the young pastor telling me that he and the senior pastor are enjoying a marvelous ministry together in the same church, and that God had given him a new senior pastor in the same old man! He said he wanted to stay and work under the same person for another twenty years!