In 2002 I was called into leadership at a local pregnancy care center in St. Louis. Before I served a single male client in unexpected pregnancy – an unresolved sin in my heart – soon became apparent to the staff, yet was hidden from me.
That is, as a guy understanding his spiritual gifts, one of them being the gift of prophecy (To Exhort, Console and Lead the Body of Christ BACK to what she should be doing) I leveraged my gift inappropriately. Instead of loving The Body of Christ I fell short as a leader and loved my opinion more than people or anything.
Everywhere you turned at the center, be it a meeting, the way I adorned my office to the very working with male clients my opinion, and how highly I held to it, painfully projected itself on everything my eyes could cover. You can’t make disciples loving your own opinion more than you love other people.
In our case, we were bringing in male clients to a pregnancy care center (not the ideal environment for guys) where any move we make – be it furnishings, letterhead, the way the place smells and even how the staff behaves towards male clients could send them running out the door. All they need is one single reason to run – and they’re gone.
One male client in particular rings a painful bell.
His name was Tim. Unlike the majority of male clients visiting our center, whom wanted their girlfriend to go through with an abortion (so they could pursue their dreams) this guy wanted to man up as a Daddy. His girlfriend however wanted an abortion. So he set an appointment with our office to come talk. Being the lead male mentor and program director, he was assigned to me.
I remember the front desk clerk ringing me in my office that my appointment arrived. I ok’d her to send him back. While I was knee deep in preparing a Powerpoint presentation, with my back turned towards my office door – I smelled him. Yes, I smelled him before I saw him. As I turned around all I could see was a greasy teen, in leather, hat backwards covered in tattoos and piercings. In my head, and thankfully inaudible, I said, “Why the Hell would anyone want to do this to themselves?”
From there Tim told me his story. The incredible lengths he’d gone to pleading with his girlfriend to have the baby and give their relationship a chance to work. It went on for 45 minutes. While he spoke out loud at a decibel well within my range of hearing it was as if it was all static. I did not, repeat, did not hear a single thought he shared. All I did was form a strategy for what I thought he needed.
It was March of 2004 and The Passion Of The Christ by Mel Gibson just came out and our church was giving away tickets for members to invite people to the movie. I had two in my pocket and was scheduled to take my bride Heidi with me the same night and day I saw Tim in the office.
Instead of listening to Tim’s heartfelt plea for realistic help, I opined that what he really needed was a savior in Jesus Christ. I mean, that’s what this is all about anyway, right? Bringing people the Gospel was all that mattered and using a pregnancy care center as a stepping stone to do so was the truth.
So I leap-frogged over what Tim shared for 45 minutes and at the end I asked him if he wanted to go to a movie that night and talk more. Tim, for his part, thought I was caring and listening. Yet, deep down, I’d already cut him off at the pass and put together an alternate plan.
We met at the theater and I told him what movie we were seeing. He told me he was raised in a broken Christian home and that he was still unsure about Jesus, The Church and all that jazz. Do you think I listened to him say that? Nope, I blew right by it saying he’d be ok. We entered the theater and the movie began.
For the next 127 minutes we watched Jesus get brutally flogged, beaten and crucified like no other film ever put together. I was a quivering mess by the time the credits rolled and soon began to realize I’d made a huge mistake.
As we exited the theater to talk I tried as best I could to switch gear AWAY from what we’d just witnessed and tried to call up in my mind what Tim and I were meeting as mentor and male client was all about. Tim was having none of it. I remember him saying, ‘I don’t know whether to say I love you or hate you for taking me to this movie.” We spoke for another 3-5 minutes and he was gone.
I tried calling his cell phone the next day and got voice mail. I tried the day after, and after, and after never getting a response. I don’t know if Tim and his girlfriend became parents. I don’t know if they split up. I don’t know if they had an abortion. All because I loved my opinion more than my fellow man.
Why am I writing you this? Why does it matter? Don’t I as a Christian leader and speaker know that people want more POSITIVE writings than they do POINTED writings?
Yup, I sure do.
Yet, I’ve never held to the belief to give the Body of Christ sugar, when it needs meat.
Today I found myself on Facebook taking the enemy’s bait to get into an opinion and position contest with another brother in Christ. Today I saw the wages of my sin was death and I saw there could be a death in my relationship with my brother in Christ, whom I love. And it reminded me of a sin issue I’ve carried (maybe my own thorn in my flesh) all the way back to a client named Tim.
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:22-26 (ESV)
My youthful passion is to fight. To fight with my opinion. As a Disciple Maker it’s caused me to NOT pursue righteousness, NOT rely on Faith, NOT love and NOT be at peace.
I took today’s Facebook bait as a new beginning to again build a quarrelsome spirit.
As HIS servant, guess what. I am NOT supposed to be quarrelsome, but rather I am to be kind to EVERYONE. Yes, the word says EVERYONE. I must be able to be taught, even as a leader. I am patiently to endure evil (not avoid it of gripe about it). I am to correct my opponents with gentleness. On Facebook, I admit, I’m not all that gentle.
As a result, as a disciple maker, if I love my brother, more than my opinion, God’s word promises they may be granted repentance, come to truth, may come to their senses and could possibly escape the snare of the devil – AFTER – they’ve been captured by him to do his will.
Whoa – you mean that by LOVING PEOPLE MORE THAN MY OPINION could possibly leave room for God to do HIS work and NOT ME?
Think about it.