Thursday, July 14, 2011

Small Decision - Eternal Consequence

A pastor was quoted in the Religion section of the local paper.

[My mentor] taught me to be careful of even the small decisions because they could have great consequences in the future. You could have a bad day, but you need to be careful.

Great quote, right? Sound advice, don't you think? Except that this particular pastor has a long history of NOT following this thoughtful admonition. His inability to engage in loving confrontation is legendary. All over this city you can find wounded soldiers bleeding and suffering from his verbal stabbings and harsh condemnation.

Our own children walked away from the Lord after this particular pastor made a choice about me, which was based on completely false information. A small decision made on what was surely a bad day has had eternal consequences for my family.

Sadly, my story isn't unique. My friend's husband left her and she decided to take some time for herself. She'd always loved musical theatre, so she auditioned for a show with the local troupe. The pastor found out, but he didn't approve of the theatre. He kicked her out of the choir and she was encouraged to leave the church. She was left to go through a painful divorce without the love and support of her long-time church family. It took years for her wounds to heal, and today the scars remain.

He once fired a man who'd faithfully served on the church staff for 21 years. He gave no notice and no reason, except that "the time had come" (whatever that means).

A young piano player who was a new believer was excited to be a part of the church worship team. She really loved her new Christian family. One night a musician friend asked her to cover for him at a secular gig. This pastor found out and kicked her off the worship team - leaving the new believer confused, sad, and broken. It was 15 years before she stepped foot in another church.

A woman reported to the pastor that there was evidence that a person on the creative arts team was jealous of her. She manipulated and twisted the facts in order shine a false but incriminating light on the so-called envious one. If the pastor were a good leader, he would have told the informant to go to the other person directly and deal with whatever was going on. That's what Jesus teaches us to do, right? But, not being a fan of confrontation himself, he just fired the other person with no explanation. How do I know? I'm the other person.

Another heart broken, a family displaced, and teen-age kids at a crossroad make a decision to turn as far from God as possible. Who wants to serve a God whose church is so terrible and mean?

If you're a parent, you know how your heart breaks when the kids fight and mistreat one another. Imagine how God feels when his kids hurt each other with such force that the action has eternal consequences. Oh gosh, how sad.

Listen, the pastor's inability to take his own counsel (or that of a teacher) does not lessen the validity of the advice. Indeed, even a small decision can have great consequences in the future.

Get off the pew and (as Dr. Laura would say), go do the right thing.

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