Most of you know that I ran a PSP for many years. During that time, there was a teacher at our Class Day who decided it was time for her to strike out on her own and set up her own co-op classes. Ultimately, when things like this happen we should be called to peace and wish one another the best on our journeys.
Unfortunately, this teacher did not leave peaceably. Her way of populating her classes was to stand outside of “my group” events and poach “my people.” I’ll spare you the gory details. Just use your imagination. Suffice it to say that it resulted in no little amount of confusion amongst our ranks. Lines were drawn (and crossed). Sides were taken. Ultimately there was a division and a small number of families left.
My assessment of the situation was spot on. Time continued to reveal even more issues, not just in our group but in other circles where this person traveled. Going through this division was hard. Ultimately, it resulted in several years of peace and productivity in our group. So it wasn’t entirely a bad thing.
When it was all said and done, I won. But there was a cost.
I used the full weight of my authority to see that this person had no access to our PSP or any of our affiliate programs. She was insubordinate, subversive, and I didn’t trust her. I could not let her continue to wreak havoc in my group any longer. She was locked out! But what about her kids, you may be thinking to yourself? I didn’t care.
My actions were right. My heart was not.
She needed to go, but I should have cared. I had absolutely no regard for how my actions affected her family. “My group” had been “their group” for a number of years. Her kids were not only involved in our classes, they were in our PSP. They were regular attenders to our field trips, holiday celebrations, and social events. They also participated in our sports program. We were a huge part of their lives. I pulled all of that out from under their feet. What was I thinking? “Well, their mother should have considered the consequences when she decided to cause all of this trouble.”
However, there’s a difference between consequences and retaliation.
I was motivated to protect “my group,” or so I told myself. It would take many years before I could acknowledge that I was angry. I felt hurt and betrayed—I thought she was my friend—and I was insulted. I used my authority as a means of returning evil for evil. In my flesh I said, “I worked too hard on this group—I put too much blood, sweat, and tears into it—to let this woman mess it up.” God forgive me.
When I saw the path that she was taking, I should have reached out. I knew the actions that I would need to take for the good of the whole group. It should have grieved my heart. I should have explained to her how her actions were leading to consequences that would have a profound effect on her kids. Did she really want that? Instead, I had a “Take that!” attitude. Acknowledging this causes me great shame.
How could I have been so calloused? Because I was responding in the flesh. I also forgot that it really wasn’t “my group” and these weren’t “my people.” It was God’s group and they were His people. Taking care of it and His people was a charge that God gave me. And I needed to answer to Him for how I cared for these.
Taking ownership of our ministries is commendable, but only to a certain extent. We must not take “possession” of something that isn’t ours. When we are deeply invested in ministry it’s inevitable that we will take problems personally, but they really aren’t our problems. They are God’s.
His children will have differences; that’s inevitable. The heart behind how we handle them is key. Will we react in the flesh? Or take a deep breath and a giant step backward so we can respond in the Spirit? Will we remember that it’s not our problem, but God’s to handle regardless of how hurtful it is? Rather than taking it personally, take it to the Lord.
Our Father is more concerned with our hearts than with what we do for Him. Not a new concept, I know. However, it’s something the Lord is continually reminding me. I have purposed to be “the hatchet lady” no more.
“For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13) Oh, how I need His mercy.