A long time ago…a long LONG time ago…I didn’t know any better. I remember thinking for months, “This pastor gig is a snap! Best job in the whole world! Everybody loves me!” And they did...
…until they didn’t anymore.
The first sign that something was way off came when I heard that I was being “roasted.” Do you remember that colloquialism? People got roasted — picked on and poked fun at — as a way of garnering attention. And sometimes to raise money for charity. The only problem with me being the roasted pastor was that I wasn’t present and it was a way for some to express their discontent. As someone once said, “They weren’t carrying my photo in their wallets anymore.” At any rate, they took to verbally cutting me up when their group gathered for other purposes.
And it hurt!
The day came when we needed to do something about the problem so we went out for dessert with some friends. We had an enjoyable time with fun and laughter. We were having so much fun that I almost didn’t say anything about the purpose for going out. In fact, Cathy and I were in the backseat of their car and all the way back to our driveway before I finally got up the nerve (Cathy may have elbowed me in the ribs…I don’t remember) to talk about the problem. Then I got an earful. It wasn’t that the other couple wanted to be a part of tearing their pastor down, but that they knew how bad it was and felt I needed to know.
It hurt more!
That painful driveway conversation was the beginning of what would become the regular practice of facing the pain when relationships get bruised. Paul, the Apostle wrote, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." Romans 12:18 (English Standard Version) That’s actually very good news because it means that God wants us to have a clean slate when it comes to relationships. It’s doubly good because we aren’t held responsible for the refusal of others to do the hard work of cleaning things up.
I sat down with one of our Stone Ridge leaders a few weeks ago and talked about some of the pain we had endured in 2014. We had to face it that some people left our church rather than deal with the ugliness of bruised relationships. Unfortunately, many people (including many Christ-followers) treat relationships a bit like we treat garbage…when the container gets full, dump it out and start over again. The obvious result is a relational landfill accumulating more and more people who were once our friends but are now our refuse. Why, we asked ourselves, do so many choose what seems to be the easy road when it does so much long-term damage to the landscape of life?
The results of our conversation became the seeds of our new sermon series “Clean Slate.” What are the roadblocks that keep us from dealing with relational pain? Does God have anything to say about them? Is it possible to hit the reset button and go back to a place of health and hope when relationships have been busted? We believe that the answer is obvious and that God’s intention is to take some of our most damaged relationships and turn them into our most cherished ones!
It all begins this weekend at Stone Ridge Church. Can’t join us in person? Catch the podcasts!
Before you go, I invite you to take advantage of the relational encouragement of reading the Bible with us in 2015. We are excited about this chance to fill our lives with hope and wisdom from the Word of God. Want to join in? Click here to find out how!