Ever been caught in a situation where your say-so doesn’t carry enough weight to make a difference? When you totally disagree with the decision, but there isn’t much you can do to change what’s coming? I can hear the resounding ‘Oh Yeah!’ from every reader.
So, what do you do? Yell obscenities? Throw stuff at the TV? Fall to the floor in a full-fledged childish tantrum? Complain loudly and bitterly to any and every person within earshot? Could be. I don’t know how you react to unpleasant news. But if that is your modus operandi, I would venture to say that nothing good comes out of it
Consider this true story.
As a twenty-year-old green untrained preacher, Andy accepted his first pastoral position. He and Renie were expecting their first child when they relocated to an isolated area of the Oklahoma Panhandle so he could assume his very first pastorate. Andy quickly realized that his greatest supporter in that tiny church was a deacon named Shorty Cook. Faithful, prayer warrior, and encourager, this godly man was there for his pastor in every way he could.
About a year later, Pastor Andy’s family was in the Cook home for Sunday lunch. During the pre-meal conversation that deacon commented, “Preacher, when we voted to ask you to be our pastor, you never requested to see the vote totals. Why?”
Rather sheepishly Andy replied, “Guess because I didn’t know I was supposed to ask.” (He has since learned otherwise.)
With a kind smile Deacon Cook then told him, “Well, the vote that day was 14-9, in favor of calling you to come.”
“Not a very positive vote, huh?” a rather embarrassed Andy answered.
Tears flooded his eyes as that deacon confessed, “Preacher, I voted against you. And I am sure sorry I did. I was wrong.”
Andy never had an inkling that he had voted against him. Quite the contrary, he knew that man to be an encouraging and supportive mentor who helped build Andy into a better leader and minister. The opposite could have happened. A bitter and angry deacon can create problems for an inexperienced pastor, and the church invariably suffers. But instead, he chose the high road, giving help and respect. Even in the face of woefully untried leadership.
Even when we know we are right in our thinking, if we aren’t careful we can be wrong in our actions. And make things much worse if we do. Deacon Shorty Cook had a better way of handling disappointment and controversy. And saved a church from a lot of heartache.
Not very much change occurs in a man’s heart when a sworn enemy demands change. To the contrary, usually stubbornness takes over and noses get out of joint. More effective in the long-run? Be as supportive as possible, try calm reasoning instead of angry confrontation, and pray constantly for our Creator to create a change of heart – on both sides.