“Now, in the last days, difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self … boastful, arrogant, revilers … ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited … Avoid such men as these.” (II Timothy 3:1-5)
Veteran Christian workers get this a lot. People tell you of a conversation they had with you years or even decades ago in which you either said the magic words that changed their lives, or came out with something that infuriated them then and continues to bug them to this day.
You don’t remember any of it.
In yesterday’s cybermail, I had two such messages, one of each kind. One young minister was thanking me and the other was venting. Both conversations had occurred nearly 10 years ago.
The second letter told of the time the writer sat in my office, seeking guidance for entering the ministry. According to his note, I asked what kind of church position he was interested in. And that’s what ticked him off.
“I was morally outraged by the question,” he said.
After all, he went on to point out, the issue was finding and doing God’s will, not what he was interested in.
He went on from there, updating me on his situation and asking for prayers, but my attention was riveted on those words: morally outraged. I’m unsure what that term means, to tell you the truth, particularly in this setting. My dictionary defines “outrage” as a severe insult or affront. But, “morally outraged”?
I could not be more surprised by this than if my question had given him a sudden craving for chocolate ice cream. One seems to have little to do with the other.
We never know what is going to tick someone off.
Unresolved anger is a scary thing. One never knows when it’s going to rear its ugly head, who it’s going to victimize, and what price the perpetrator may be forced to pay as a result of the damage he causes.
Any minister harboring unresolved anger in his heart is a ticking time bomb capable of doing a lot of damage to a great many people. What’s worse, it’s all done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The angry pastor will wreck his relationships with the other staff members, with the deacons, with anyone coming to him with a plea for help, and particularly with anyone bringing a criticism to him.
Earlier today, I asked a group of friends for their response to this question: “What does an angry pastor do?”
The answers poured in and piled up in a hurry: