Recently I’ve had a disagreement with the leadership at my church. I have asked for and received my Pastor’s permission to share this situation publicly on my blog page. The conflict was over women’s ministry – the lack of it. The church has currently stopped most women’s ministry events. The plan is to shift over to community groups. This plan really clashes with my heart and my calling. I love women’s ministry! I feel called to serve in some leadership capacity within women’s ministry. My expectation was to serve in my own church. Recently, on several occasions, the pastor and I have talked and emailed each other about the decision to move away from women’s ministry and move toward community groups. I am so thankful for a courageous pastor who will directly engage in conversations that are uncomfortable. He’ll say, “let’s keep communicating about this.” I respect him for addressing my concern.
However, something in my heart was not right. I got to the place where I didn’t like anything the pastor or the church was doing. I was very critical. And I’d have to say this is simply out of character for me. One morning while praying for him, I heard the Lord whisper the word “enmity” to me. I had to look that one up. Enmity means: “the state or feeling of being actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.” My critical attitude showed that I did in fact have enmity in my heart. How did that happen? Where was the open door?
My prayer: Dear Jesus, I do not want to feel actively opposed to anybody and especially not my pastor or church leadership. Please forgive me for this sin in my heart. It really is quite ugly. And Jesus I forgive my pastor and my church leadership for not meeting my expectations. That’s not their job. I need to rest in your will for me at this time.
God’s Word to us: Oh Daughter, I love you and am so glad you brought Me this sin to forgive. I am equally glad you have chosen to forgive your pastor for I know he loves you very much and wants you to be one with the church and its purposes. I release you from the guilt and shame you feel from having these negative feelings. I will bless you in your church again by having right relationships there, for it is very important. And thank you for your vulnerability in sharing this with others. It will help others with past hurts in their churches as well. Forgiveness inside the church is key.
“Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
Those who refuse to gossip
or harm their neighbors
or speak evil of their friends.
and keep their promises even when it hurts.”
My Heart’s Cry is for us to live a life of forgiveness within the church. When we hold a grudge against someone inside or outside the church, it is harmful for us. It ruins relationships. I was ruining my very good relationship with my pastor. Look at this verse above (Psalm 15:1-3, 4b). Honestly, I was having a very hard time refusing to gossip and not speaking evil of this man of God. I was also having a hard time keeping my word – my promise to volunteer – especially when it was inconvenient. The scripture asks the question: “Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord….” and then a list of specifications is given to answer that question. I was not following them. Well then, this leads me to another verse:
“But when you are praying,
first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against,
so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
These processes are put in place because God knows His creation. He knows what happens to us when we harbor a grudge against someone or even a church’s leadership team. See how having just one unmet expectation wrecks havoc and needs to be dealt with?
After forgiving, I felt so much better! I don’t feel enmity any longer. It’s gone. I feel healthy in this area and am now excited about going to church and being involved. I look forward to discussing this conflict further in a healthy respectful way. Hopefully these discussions will lead toward growth and understanding in both my pastor and myself.
Is there someone you’ve been holding a grudge against? Your church, your pastor, friend, husband? An adult or even a child? Maybe it’s an organization or ministry. Jesus is asking you to forgive them. You will feel so much better when you do! And I think it’s because of the second part of this verse, “so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins too.”
I encourage you to decide to forgive. Choose to forgive in obedience to Christ.
I must say this has been the hardest thing to post. I actually considered whether I really wanted to be this vulnerable. After praying though, I thought, I want you to be free of these negative feelings too. So I must share. So with love -Kim