Before I left for a cruise to the Caribbean, I had an unfortunate exchange with a minister. He had a need to find something wrong with me that he could heal. His first attempt resulted in an acknowledgement that he was wrong about me, but he could not leave his quest to “heal me” alone. During this time, I met four people from four different churches, who unloaded their frustration with the condescending way they are addressed by ministers and the marginal way they are treated. Clearly, I was not alone.
This minister continued to pick at my life until I had enough. He was not the first minister I’ve encountered who thought God had appointed him to heal me. Those ministers shipwrecked their ministry. Rather than cut him off without explanation, as is the practice among many in ministry, I like to lay everything on the table to guarantee I understood his or her true intentions.
I sent an email explaining how I felt about his quest that also addressed the frustrations of the other Christians. I pointed out that this is not an isolated problem between me and him, but a problem in Christianity. His condescending response left me one option. Remove him from my circle of close friends.
Many years ago, a friend told me the painful truth about my abrasive personality. I asked God if it was true. He confirmed the truth by surfacing a multitude of memories that proved my friend was right. Therefore, it’s not my habit to dismiss the assessment of others about me simply because it’s negative. Once again, I asked God if the minister was right about me. This time memories did not surface. Instead, I received a complimentary copy of Charisma Magazine, which I tossed in my suitcase for reading material while lying on the deck of the cruise ship.
Our son brought us to the cruise terminal. We unloaded our luggage and almost didn’t make it on the ship. My husband did not note the difference between “and” and “or”. He marked that he had a fever and a runny nose. The agent quickly dismissed herself with the promise she would be back shortly. I glanced down at the paper. “You don’t have a fever.”
“I have a runny nose.”
“From allergies, there is a difference between “fever and” and “fever or”. By this time, the agent had returned with her supervisor, whom we convinced my husband had misread the question. “No fever, just allergies.” She waved us through.
We ate lunch, explored the ship and found a place in the atrium behind four ladies from Wyoming to watch the Super Bowl on the big screen. An elderly couple from Tennessee sat next to us bemoaning the $200 they paid to park their car – one of the perks of sailing on Super Bowl Sunday from the host city. A young man from Florida asked if the seats next to us were empty. They were. An inebriated woman from the Wyoming party offered him free beer if he promised to explain the football game. He was reluctant to accept the expensive gift, $8 per beer. “Don’t worry I got lots of money,” slurred the woman.
Cruising is so much fun.
Half way through the game my husband and I left for the ships theater, and the “Welcome Aboard” show. We sat behind a couple who had been married 73 years. They won several gifts for being the oldest cruisers. When the emcee asked the couple how they stayed married that long, he said, “Find a good one.” His wife said, “Have fun.” After the show, the mini burgers, chips, hotdogs and chicken wings we ate during the Super Bowl game negated a reason for dinner. We retired to our room to watch the last 10 minutes of the Super Bowl, and I picked up my magazine to read.
The issue of Charisma was a God send that addressed my recent prayer. The title of The Strang Report, written by the magazine’s founder, caught my attention: “The Real Church Crisis: As more believers grow disillusioned with church in America, our leaders must wake up to the real issues.
In the article, Mr. Strang addressed the practices of leadership within the charismatic community. His first point: “Anointing is more important than academics.” The minister I removed from my close circle of friends was obsessed with academics. Strang addressed sloppy theology and the marginalization of successful people with strong personalities. He concluded church leaders need accountability and true relationship, which produces a spirit of humility and servant hood rather than an “I’m the bishop, serve me” mentality.
The article confirmed that I am not the only one who sees problems in the church. There are ministers who are unapproachable and uncorrectable. They think they have all the answers and God has appointed them to heal the rest of us. They create the “Real Church Crisis”.
“I don’t believe that you are not offended or hurt. You ran for sympathy to people who agree with you, but you will be back,” was the last thing the minister I severed relationship with said to me.
I hope he doesn’t wait too long. I won’t be back.