A Ticked Off Correctional Officer

Police Car

Have you ever corrected someone just because you they ticked you off? You ask your husband to take the trash out. He forgets, like he always does. Your basement begins to reek of spoiled cottage cheese and old coffee. Your heart begins to reek of anger and impatience.

Why does he always forget to take the trash out? Can’t he be faithful in just this one area? This is sin, and I need to correct him on this! And so in your anger, you correct your husband with all the gentleness of a professional wrestler. I’ve been there.

Several years ago I heard Dave Harvey give a message entitled The Surgeon, the Scalpel, and the Saint In Sin, in which he said that the goal of all our correction should be to connect people back to God. Sin isn’t primarily against us, but against God. When someone sins against us, it hurts our relationship with them. More importantly though, it strains their relationship with God.

That’s why it’s so crucial to avoid correcting someone simply because they annoyed us. People can sense when we’re angry, and anger never produces godly change. In James 1:20 it says -

…for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

All correction should be rooted in the desire to connect people back to God. Our goal isn’t to get them down on their knees asking our forgiveness. Our goal is to see them experience the transforming grace of God.

So the next time you’re getting ready to correct your husband, wife, brother, or friend, pause for a moment and examine your heart. Are you correcting them because you’re angry, or because you care for their soul? Are you looking for an apology, or trying to restore them in their fellowship with God? Correction is important, but the heart motive matters as well.

+photo by dcJohn

What to do When Your Pastor Offends You

pulpit

Pastors can offend in many ways. I know I have.

One Sunday when preaching on reaching out to strangers I noticed a student who looked distinctly international to me. Swelling with love for foreigners, I gushed, “I’m so glad to see we have someone from another country with us this morning. Sir, what country are you from?” He looked around, unsure if I was addressing him. “Yes, you sir, what country are you from?” He replied loudly, “McKeesport, Pennsylvania.” End of sermon.

I once asked a lady when she was due. She wasn’t. I’ve failed to appreciate people for serving, failed to visit people when they were sick. I’ve called people by the wrong name – I guess I really shouldn’t guess at people’s names, but when they’ve told me 20 times I hate to keep asking. “So, ummmmm…..Chhhhhelsea, how are you?” “It’s Bernadette.”

At times I’ve offended by my preaching. Sometimes because the truth is offensive. Sometimes because I just say stupid things.

If your pastor offends you, what should you do? Hang a Michael Bolton poster on his office door? (I probably just offended someone). Stew in resentment? Leave the church? Here are a few suggestions:

First, pray.

Next ask yourself, what does this offense reveal about my heart? What am I craving? Honor, recognition, or approval? Sometimes a strong reaction can indicate sin in our hearts. James 4 says the root of all anger is our cravings – we want things and don’t get them. What is it you’re wanting and not getting? Sometimes we have unmet expectations we’ve elevated to idol status. The pastor should visit me when I’m sick. He should notice when I’m absent. He should consult me before making decisions.

Ask, is this one of the “multitude of sins” love covers or a serious sin or pattern of sin that God wants to help him with?

If you can’t cover it in love, go to him. But before you go, ask, what are my motives for going to him? Do I want to help him or blast him? Am I going out of genuine concern for God’s glory, his good, or the good of the church? Am I going in anger or love?

Try to believe the best. Maybe he just forgot. Maybe he didn’t get your message. Maybe he didn’t mean it that way. Maybe he just didn’t think that comment through.

Forgive him in advance.

Go humbly. Go with thankfulness for the grace you see in his life. Go in a spirit of inquiry. Don’t come in accusing. Assume that you might not see the whole picture or don’t see the situation correctly. Try to get the facts. Find out if he actually said what you thought he said. Ask him to help you understand why he made the decision he made. Then speak the truth in love.

And tell him your name is actually Valerie. And that you’re from Belize.

How about you? What other suggestions would you add?