Pastoral Danger Zone #3 – You find yourself at a critical crossroads.
The sign on the highway reads: Intersection ahead. Decision time. Choose carefully your route because you will be on it the next 25 miles.
A change of career, a change of direction in your ministry, a change of your understanding of God’s will for your life—all are critical moments. They are dangerous times.
In my late 30s, I was bored in my ministry and in our marriage. The president of one of our SBC seminaries invited me to campus to discuss the possibility of taking a staff position. Margaret and I drove down and spent a couple of days in discussion and prayer. I still recall her tears as she looked at the sad choices of homes that were available to us on campus. As we left, I was 95 percent sure I would accept the president’s invitation.
On the long drive home, God changed my heart. I realized I was doing the ministry God had called me to, and that I loved my wife and adored my children. I did not want to serve anywhere else or be married to anyone else. I phoned the president and thanked him kindly, then rededicated myself to pastoring that church and leading my family.
A pastor I know resigned a large church in Texas and moved to a smaller one in Mississippi. Later, he admitted to a friend that he had made that decision at a bad time. “I was just exhausted,” he said. “And when I got rested up, I was pastor of the wrong church.”
I heard one old preacher advise, “Never make critical decisions on Monday or when you are tired.” Good counsel.
Pastoral Danger Zone #4 – You are angry.
The highway sign reads: Caution: Anger. Blurs your vision, hardens your heart, exaggerates your reactions. Pull over to the side of the road and get control of yourself.
We don’t require a biblical example to teach us about the dangers of uncontrolled anger or the benefits of taming this lion. Paul advises, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26). The point of that is to say a) we all get angry from time to time, but b) it needs to be dealt with promptly. Undealt-with anger is a poison which contaminates everything it touches and destroys every relationship.
My own experience says that when we are backslidden–when we get out of fellowship with the Lord–we become critical of God’s people and angry at the least offense. Likewise, when we are close to Him, we love those same people and are understanding and forgiving toward those who do us wrong.
The anger, therefore, seems to be a “road closed” sign that would interfere with our loving people and building strong and lasting relationships.
Deal with your anger, pastor. Do it before you leave the house today. Leave it at the foot of the cross.