The situation kept deteriorating. Pastor Seth accepted this call to ministry two years ago, trusting his skills could meet the congregation’s needs. A few members were still upset over the departure of their previous, much-beloved pastor, and some members left during the uncertainty of the yearlong transition.
Disgruntled former members encouraged others to join them in their new church homes as Pastor Seth tried valiantly to diffuse lingering hard feelings. He worked diligently to introduce new ideas and programs. Yet, attendance and financial support kept dwindling as unresolved issues continued to undermine meetings and mission efforts.
One day, Pastor Elliot, a colleague from a neighboring congregation, invited Pastor Seth to lunch. A veteran of thirty years of ministry and many congregational challenges, he sought to give grace to his young pastoral neighbor. He asked Pastor Seth what he most enjoyed doing.
“Hiking,” Pastor Seth answered. As gently as he could, Pastor Elliot suggested it was time for him to do just that. “Go take a hike. Let this go. It’s not working. It’s hurting your health, and it’s not helping the congregation either.”
Pastor Seth left six months later. He used those months to groom a few leaders to handle the next transition and then spent a few weeks hiking part of the Appalachian Trail.
Sometimes God needs us to hear a hard message; other times God nudges us to deliver the hard message. Pastor Elliot’s words were hard to hear and hard to speak. Sometimes the truth is both. When we do either with grace, the truth can set us free.
Lord, help us hear and speak your truth to one another in kindness and love. Amen.
David’s family was a mess. Among his children there was rape, murder, and a plot to overthrow him by his son Absalom. Violence followed, and Second Samuel tells the story of Absalom’s death. Even though Absalom had betrayed him, David still loved his son with a parent’s never-ending love—the kind of love that God demonstrates perfectly for us, as David celebrates in Psalm 34. The author of Ephesians warns against acting out of anger, wrath, and malice (the very things that tore apart David’s family). We should instead forgive, as God in Christ has forgiven us. In John, Jesus restates that he is the path to God because he teaches God’s truth. Jesus will give his own life but then raise up those who believe in him.
• Read 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33. When have you been called to “deal gently” with a loved one?
• Read Psalm 34:1-8. Reflect on a time when you were able to intimately “taste and see” God’s goodness in your life.
• Read Ephesians 4:25–5:2. Are your words and actions imitating Christ?
• Read John 6:35, 41-51. God comes to us in unexpected ways. Who have you discounted as a servant of God? How can you support their ministry?
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