I remember walking through the office at the church where I worked a few years ago. I was the new pastor on a big staff filled with experienced ministry veterans. I was making copies when one of the oldest veteran pastors (a man who had been in ministry for 45 years) pulled me aside, looked me in the eye and said, “Andy, what’s going on with your neighbor?” I was completely caught off guard and didn’t know what he was talking about. So I asked, “What do you mean?” In the kindest way possible he went on to explain, “Late last night your next door neighbor, who was a bit drunk, called me to complain about you. Somehow she got a hold of my number and called to tell me how bad a person you are, how you were a sorry excuse for a pastor, and that we should fire you. What’s going on?”
I was stunned. When we’d first moved in, Aleta and I had a nice thing going with this neighbor – we even loaned her our car a few times when her truck was in the shop. But over time, healthy good-neighbor-boundaries kept getting stomped on, and each time we asked her to respect an appropriate boundary she grew more defensive and angry. I got yelled at for parking the front end of my car a little in front of her house because it was her “spot,” I was lectured about how she thought I should landscape my front yard, I was accused of diverting drain-water into her yard (I wasn’t) which inspired her to divert all the drainage from the downspouts on one side of her house under our fence and into our backyard (which is illegal). Now I just stood there embarrassed that this junk-yard-dog-mean person had now cast doubt on my character in the mind of a man I truly admired. I really couldn’t take much more of this mean person!
Have you ever dealt with someone who just didn’t play nice no matter how hard you tried to play nice? How do you typically deal with junk-yard-dog-mean people like that? Do you stoop to their level and make matters worse, or do you seek God’s help and keep on seeking His help even when your prayers aren’t answered as soon as you’d like them to be answered? In the next few posts I’m going to look at another amazing prayer – Psalm 5. We don’ know the specific reason David wrote this Psalm, but we do know that it tells us how to seek God’s help when we’re dealing with mean people.