I sat in the courtroom trying to hold back the tears that were welling up in my eyes. Before me the judge was proceeding over the finality of a divorce for a couple that I know. I have not had the privilege (or curse) of being in a courtroom often in my life. And I had never been in a family courtroom for a divorce proceeding. I honestly felt like I was at a very sad funeral, but only worse.
I stood there shaking my head. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Earlier this year, I was having a conversation with a pastor who was about five years my junior (approximately 38 years old). He was telling me that recently his parents (his dad is also a pastor) just up and told him that they didn’t like or agree with his wife’s choice of clothing.
Really? This still happens? Incredulous as it may seem and sad to say, but it happens more often than not. For some time, I have pondered this dynamic. The reason I use the word dynamic as a noun (i.e., a basic or dynamic force, especially one that motivates, affects development or stability) here is simple. These type of conversations or should I say “imperatives” usually do not end well but they definitely affect the development and stability of relationships. Why does a well-intentioned Christian feel the need to tell other Christians (especially adult family members) how they should live, especially in preferential matters?
I have a confession to make – I’ve been that person in the past. And I’m continuing to purge this divisive, disruptive, even devilish spirit. The following are reasons I believe that Christians act this way:
One year ago today, one of the world’s most beloved entertainers, Robin Williams, took his own life. Very few entertainers have cut across such a wide swath of age groups while entertaining the masses. From Aladdin to Peter Pan to Mrs. Doubtfire, Williams put his very own mark on every movie or act that he performed.
Several months ago, my wife and I had stopped at some yard sales in a small town near our home. While perusing a box of older VHS movies, I came across the movie Dead Poets Society. I had never watched the movie but remember hearing about it years ago. I purchased it for $1 and several weeks later watched the movie. Although we could debate some of the finer philosophies presented throughout the movie, one thing was undeniable. Williams was brilliant in playing his part as an English teacher encouraging his subjects to not just endure another English class but to seize life and live it for all its worth.
If you choose not to attend a certain leadership/ministry conference because of what some might think of you, you are living for man’s approval.
If you choose not to post a helpful article or quote online that you just read due to the name of the author and what others might think of you, you are living for man’s approval.
If you choose not to make ministry changes in your church due to what fellow brethren might think, you are living for man’s approval.
If you choose to sidestep certain topics in your preaching ministry, you are living for man’s approval.
If you choose to elevate preferences above convictions, you are living for man’s approval.
“You shouldn’t have done that…”, “If only you hadn’t cut it…”, “Of all the things you could have done, that was the worst…”, “I just can’t believe you did that…”
All of the above statements and more were made to me recently. The person speaking to me was our landlord. Currently, we are renting a house and I made a mistake. You see, the kitchen floor is covered in linoleum. It is in good condition. However, during the winter months, the edges started curling up under the cabinets and were covering the main heater vent in the kitchen. Being the consummate handyman that I am and not wanting to bother the landlord, I decided to “trim” back the linoleum. Unfortunately, I cut about three inches off of the linoleum and then stapled down the edges with a staple gun (I kid you not). Over the next couple of months, the linoleum started coming up and occasionally bits of food would fall under the flooring. Our dogs, with their finely tuned dog noses, sniffed out the food and would try to retrieve the food by clawing the linoleum. Needless to say, the edges of our linoleum are ripped in various spots and the whole thing looks like a disaster.
Back to the quoted statements…those were a few of the things that the landlord said to me when I explained to him over the phone the situation. Now, I can understand his frustration. Here he is managing many different homes and there are people like me (Tim the tool-man Taylor) trying to “help him out” by fixing things myself. I can understand his frustration. However, I do not understand why he continued to berate me over and over again on the telephone concerning the issue. I believe I counted ten different times he told me in no uncertain terms that I blew it, I made a huge mistake, this could have been fixed if I would have called him initially. I told him that I had good intentions and was trying to keep from having him employ someone to fix the situation. He put me down again and I finally interrupted him and said out loud, “I MADE A MISTAKE, I SHOULD NOT HAVE DONE WHAT I DID!”