The pastor paced the floor screaming out to God. “What did I do wrong? All I ever wanted to do was serve you!”
I had just had breakfast with the chairman of his elder board who had asked me, “Where did we go south on this? All we ever wanted to do was see people come to Christ.”
Church fights, family tensions, embattled ministries, friends at odds—the most discouraging and damaging dynamic in Christianity.
I’ve been around churches and working with church leaders for decades, and I’m convinced that the number one reason church leaders fight isn’t doctrine or philosophy of ministry. Our problem is that in the furious blur of personal and corporate ministry, we begin to neglect our relationships.
I know, it happened to me eighteen years ago.
Judy and I have thought a lot about that painful process, asking ourselves where it all began, what was the first sign of disunity that we should have heeded to. Here’s the condensed wisdom of all that pain and the pain of others we have tried to help:
We created a climate in which we gave ourselves permission to disregard one another.
• Someone expresses their heart and the rest of us give one another that “here she goes again” look. After the meeting we all agree, “She’s just trying to get her way.”
• One family member leaves the room in tears and nobody follows. “We’ve told him over and over he’s just too intense.”
• Two leaders disagree on a finer point of doctrine and begin to view that as the simple explanation for every strain in their relationship, every tear in their unity.
You may not be a church leader, but you are a wife, a husband, a son, a daughter, a friend, a coworker, or part of a ministry team. Whatever you do, don’t give yourself permission to disregard those the Lord Jesus has brought into your life.
It never ends well.
“These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17).