Once upon a time I was a punk college ministry intern (not that all interns are punks, but I was one of those “if-you’d-just-put-me-in-charge-everything-here-would-be-great” kind of interns) at a good-sized church in a college town. One of the great things they did at this church was develop leaders through their internship program. Each month they brought in a special guest or speaker to equip, not only the interns, but the entire church staff. On this particular day all the interns and the entire church staff sat down to be trained in the biblical concepts of healthy communication. Our teacher was the Dean of a Bay Area seminary and he taught on the passage from Ephesians 4: 25 – 26 which tells us, “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” This Dean went on to teach us that the words “Be angry” is literally an emphatic command, and so that meant God’s word commands us to express our honest emotions with one another in order to have a healthy staff and ministry. It made a lot of sense to me, but I’ve never forgotten what happened next.
The Senior Pastor of the church, a man who had just stepped into the position one month prior, stopped the entire discussion cold. He slammed his bible shut and pronounced, “I do not like the direction you (pointing his finger accusingly at the Dean of the seminary) are taking this whole discussion. I fundamentally disagree with everything you are saying. If we do what you’re saying it will be a recipe for conflict and trouble. This meeting is over.” With that, the Senior Pastor got up, left the meeting, walked down the hall, and went into his new office closing the door behind him. The rest of us just sat there in stunned silence not knowing what to do until one associate pastor awkwardly prayed a prayer to close our time and apologize to the Dean of the seminary. THAT really happened, and it’s always been a living illustration to me of one of the great barriers to church health. I’ll share further thoughts on this in my next post, but what do you think about the scene I just described? Does anyone have similar scenes they could share?