Posts Tagged ‘exaggerating charges’

My first few years as a pastor, I wanted to quit every other Monday.

And there were some people in my second church ministry who wanted to help that process along.

One Saturday morning, our church held a workday.  We had a small gymnasium, and at the front of the gym were two rooms used for storage.  One room contained several boxes of hymnbooks that were so old even the rescue mission wouldn’t take them.  They were at least three generations old … and nobody, but nobody, wanted them.

So I took the boxes and threw them in the church dumpster.

I should have thrown them out after the workday, however, when no one else was around … because my all-time greatest church nemesis (I’ll call him Phil) discovered the hymn books in the dumpster even though I thought I had covered them up pretty well.

Phil went around and told everybody … not that I had thrown out the old hymnbooks … but that I was throwing out the old hymns!

Phil’s charge simply wasn’t true.  I grew up on hymns and love many of them to this day.  While our church was learning new praise songs at the time – this was the late 1980s – we still sang hymns all the time.  Phil wasn’t comfortable with the changes I was making with our worship service, so he needed some issue against me.

So he did what many pastoral antagonists do.

Phil gathered a group around him, and they began writing down all kinds of things they didn’t like about me.

For one thing, they didn’t like the short dresses worn by the wife of a band member.  One critic demanded that I put a stop to her sleazy attire.  But this woman was struggling with her faith and her marriage … and I wasn’t about to drive her away from the church by telling her how to dress.

The group also attacked my wife, my nine-year-old son, and my six-year-old daughter for the flimsiest of reasons.

But the coup de grace occurred when they read the church constitution and noticed that I recommended that the constitution be null and void after five years.

Their conclusion?  After five years, I planned on taking over the church and running it as a dictatorship.  In other words, I would become the constitution!

The truth is that I just wanted to force us to update our governing document every few years … an idea I borrowed from Christian management guru Ted Engstrom.

The group came up with a lot more charges against me … most of which I mercifully cannot remember.

But here’s what I want you to know: they were almost all exaggerated.

When an antagonist decides to attack a pastor, that person usually takes a flaw in the pastor’s character or a mistake the pastor made and blows it up so the pastor looks evil.

And one of the tipoffs is that the antagonist along with his/her group never talks to the pastor directly about their issue(s).

What would happen if they did?

Most likely, the pastor would offer an explanation that would neutralize or negate the charges.

Because the antagonist cannot let the pastor interfere with his/her plan, the antagonist goes around the pastor and shares his charges with others as if they’re fact … and he/she has to exaggerate the charges to make the pastor look as bad as possible.

And wonder of wonders … a few people actually believe the overstated charges.

This is the devil’s modus operandi.  Isn’t this the same tactic Satan used against Jesus?

Jesus was accused by the Jews of blasphemy (because He called Himself the Son of God … which He was) and by the Romans of sedition against the state (because Jesus admitted He was a king … which He was) because they had only one king: Caesar.

And the sad thing about exaggerating charges against someone is that it often works … even though it’s evil.

Paul writes his ministry protege Timothy and urges him in 1 Timothy 5:19: “Do not listen to an accusation against an elder [includes pastors; see verse 17] unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses.”

In other words, if you’re going to charge a pastor with wrongdoing, you better get it right … because all of heaven is watching the process very carefully (5:21).

Whenever you discuss someone’s misbehavior, make sure you are as accurate as possible.  While you don’t have to minimize misconduct, make sure you don’t maximize it, either.

And if you’re ever going to get rid of the old hymnals, load them in the trunk of your car and throw them out at home.

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