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15 Feb '14

Character in the hard times of ministry

Posted by T.J. Addington in character, suffering, trust
Displaying true Jesus character is not too hard when times are good. It is, however, on display when times are bad or hard or from our perspective unfair. For Christian leaders it is tested when we don't get our own way, when we are under attack or when we are asked to leave a ministry. None of those are easy things and each one tests what is truly inside of our hearts.

It amazes and saddens me even though I have seen it many times when Christian leaders get angry and strike back when they are asked to leave their ministry. Many years ago, I had to make a choice when I resigned a ministry under adverse conditions whether I would strike back, denigrate others or try to guard my reputation which was being put through the ringer. The best decision I made was to leave it all in the hands of God and allow Him to sort it out. I have come to a principle that one never hurts the Bride, and when we do we will be held accountable for doing so.

The same is true when we don't get our way. That can be hard and sometimes can be painful. Yet, the test is not the actual decision that is made but our reaction to it. Do we truly trust God or do we need to rely on ourselves? How does our anger when it erupts serve His purposes? When I am unwilling to reconcile with a brother, how does that serve the Kingdom of God? 

Personal attacks where our motives or reputations are sullied are perhaps one of the hardest areas to deal with. King David experienced this and he concluded that he had to leave his reputation in God's hands rather than take it into his own hands. God does have a way of sorting things out and even if it does not happen in this life, He can vindicate in the next. Our responsibility is to not do damage to His reputation when our reputation is under attack. 

In all of this there are really two issues at stake. The first is our character - Godly or ungodly, Higher nature driven or lower nature driven. But the second issue is more significant yet - the reputation of Jesus and the Father as evidenced by our behavior. Here is the bottom line: When we display poor character in the crucible of pain, we ultimately hurt His reputation. In trying to protect our reputation, in biting back in anger, in refusing the path of peace we may have the satisfaction of some measure of revenge in hurting those who we perceive have hurt us but in doing so we hurt something far more precious - the reputation of God.