When I became supervisor of the Southeast District of The Foursquare Church in 1992, I encountered a very angry leader during a divisional gathering of pastors. He was frustrated with everything, including Foursquare. I listened but quickly realized that I could do very little during that meeting to appease his hostility.
Soon after the meeting, I received a letter from him requesting that I consider a pastoral transition for him to another church. It took little discernment to see that he was extremely unhappy where he was. But I knew his frustration was more about where he was in life and not so much where he was geographically. I wrote back (graciously, I believe) that we had deeper issues to work on and that a transition would not be possible until we satisfactorily navigated our way through them.
His response to me included references to a lawsuit and a possible physical altercation against me. He also resigned the church. When I went to meet with the church council and the divisional superintendent, the council was filled with venom. This was a highly toxic environment.
The church of around 30 people needed to be closed, at least for a season while we prayed for and contended for a healthy leader. The situation required an intervention, and the Lord helped us by sending a solid leader who today leads a healthy, fruitful church.
The former pastor called me almost one year to the day after he resigned. He asked if he and his wife could meet with me. I said yes. We met at a restaurant in the city they had left one year before.
As we talked, they began to weep. Deep, deep pain from more than 25 years of life and ministry came out. We wept together.
I offered them some counseling, and they accepted. By the end of the summer, they were on their way to being healed and being free for the first time in their ministry. They were reappointed sometime later as Foursquare pastors and finished their ministry with honor.
We can run from our pain, but we can’t hide from it. This is the reason the apostle Paul said: “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup” (1 Cor. 11:26-28, NIV).
It dawned on me how often Jesus invites us to His table to receive forgiveness and wholeness.
In this crazy world of temptation and tension, I need to be reminded over and over that Jesus did what I could never have done for myself. He shed His own blood for the forgiveness of my sins and allowed His body to be broken so that I could stay free from the collateral damage of a fractured world.
I’m not sure when you were last at the Lord’s table. But I do know this: You should never leave it without truly experiencing the power of His forgiveness and His offer of living free from hurt.
By: Glenn Burris Jr., president, The Foursquare Church