There was another individual I had the pleasure of meeting in my first assignment. Her name was Lisa. I was told at the very beginning I should visit her. She was dealing with an illness and was in a wheel chair most times. I went with my wife to visit her. My wife brought her flowers. She was very nice but changed quickly after the first visit. She was another one who was convinced she knew exactly how the church should operate. She was also part of the ladies “Bible” study that met every Friday I explained in a previous post. The biggest problem with Lisa was she had a daughter. Her daughter was married and recently had a child. She was not a believer and had no interest in church. After I was there for a few months, the secretary moved away. We posted for the position. Of course, her daughter applied for the job. The church board decided it would be best to have someone from outside the church who is not directly related. This was due to past experiences. She never accepted this. Her daughter wasn’t qualified for the job anyway (big surprise).
One day while in my office I received a phone call from a stranger. “Yes, I am looking for a place to have my baby dedicated. The thing is we aren’t members and don’t attend your church.” I asked if they attended any church. She said no. I explained having your child dedicated should be at a church you know, believe in and trust. She accepted this. Next thing I know the phone rings again. My secretary says, “It’s Lisa, and she says she needs to talk to you right away!” Scared, I took the call, thinking what is the complaint about this time. I could not believe my ears. “My daughter just called you and asked to have her baby dedicated and you told her no!” After I recovered from that blow I said, “I am sorry. I had no idea this was your daughter.” She explained it shouldn’t make a difference. I then called back later, talked with the daughter (who I never had met) and set up a time to meet with her and her husband. When we met, I went over what dedication is and its purpose. A line in the ceremony reads “we as parents will raise this child in the knowledge and ways of the Lord.” I asked them what they thought about this. They both agreed this wasn’t their plan. Being brand new to all this, I called the assistant District Superintendent (had his number on speed dial) again. He told me it wouldn't be wise to ask them to lie in front of the congregation. His stance changed on this issue as well when we had our meeting to discuss the assistant Pastor in the previous post. (A lot of stances changing during this time). Next, I had board members calling me and coming to see me because Lisa called them. I went out to the house again. Apologized all over myself and tried to make things right. I explained I had no intent of hurting anyone. She said, “Oh we know, but you did!” Regardless of what I said, amends could not be reached. I never recovered from this. My last Sunday there as I was saying goodbye. Lisa's husband with as much condescension as possible said, “Adios.....Preacher!”
Looking back on this situation, I can see I could have taken more time to work with them regarding the dedication. If this would happen today, I would not have made a decision so quick. The part I still can’t get over to this day was the set up. Though set ups don’t surprise me anymore. It happens all the time in ministry. At times people believe it is OK to trick the Pastor to see how he would respond. Then, as Lisa did, they can use this to get the board to question and possibly terminate. Why didn’t Lisa come to me first? Why didn’t her daughter identify herself on the phone as “Lisa’s daughter?” Because they weren’t after a dedication. They were trying to find something to pin on me. This was when I realized deceitfulness takes place in the church and is more prevalent than we realize. Several Sundays after this situation, I still could not get Lisa or her husband to look my way or shake my hand (It’s very awkward when you attempt to shake someone's hand and they leave you hanging). I came home and shared with my wife the frustration. “They are not Christians!” she said. Wow! I never quite heard it put this way before. Not to mention how out of character this statement was for her. This caused me to wonder, maybe they aren’t. Is it possible? Could someone profess Christianity and not have it? I understand this could open up a can of worms in defining salvation and eternal security. Regardless of what you believe, one has to wonder, why would a follower of Jesus act this way? Why would they be deceptive? Why would they set a young Pastor up? At the very least if they are willingly behaving in this way while professing Christianity, they are on dangerous ground. Were they involved in drug activity? No. Were they involved in Satanic rituals? No. They were involved in lying and deception, a pure sign of Satan himself (Gen. 3). It is scary to think how many people may be in the church, profess Christ yet don’t act like Him in any way (Matthew 7:21-23). What is in store for them?
- Wild Man
They Call Me Pastor, Sometimes I Like It- Series
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
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