ONCE UPON A TIME, in a far away land, there was a Pastor who loved people very much. So much, that sometimes it caused him much pain.
There was a certain deacon’s wife who called the Pastor at 2 o’clock in the morning and asked him to take her to the nearest hospital. She said to him, “He has beaten me up again”. As they visited, she tearfully told the Pastor that this was not the first time, but one of many, and that life at home with the deacon was not as well as life appeared when she and the deacon were at church.
With great sadness she told the Pastor that it was not an unusual thing for her to take quite a beating, among other things.
This saddened the Pastor greatly, because he was mentoring this deacon friend and believed they could do great things for God and His church together.
The deacon’s wife begged the Pastor not to tell anyone in the church for shames’ sake. The Pastor of course, assured the deacon’s wife that he would keep her confidence, but for the sake of the deacon’s own spiritual well-being and her protection, he must immediately talk with the deacon and remove him from leadership until such a time that he could be restored. The Pastor was confident that “nothing was too difficult for God”, and as they allowed Him to do His transforming work, He could indeed heal their marriage.
After much prayer and deep sadness in his heart the Pastor met with the deacon and explained that his actions toward his wife were not Christ-like, nor was it healthy for the whole body of believers to have this deacon in leadership for the present time. He assured the deacon that after repentance, restoration is entirely possible and that God still had a wonderful future for their family and the family of the church.
As the hours passed into days, the Pastor’s ear began to hear the rumbling among the people of His flock. It seemed they had heard a terrible story of what a terrible, unkind Pastor he was. “How dare he remove dear brother deacon from the church board for absolutely no reason at all! Doesn’t he know how much that deacon has done for the church? How sad it is that we have lost yet another family to another church because of another uncaring Pastor!” The sensitive flock’s heart just went out to the poor deacon and his family and they believed every word the embarrassed deacon said. They were more than willing to “bear one another’s burdens”, with this wounded deacon.
Without asking the Pastor what in the world happened, others began to follow the deacon to another church. It was a sad season indeed.
Fearing this would cause division in the entire body of believers, the Pastor’s wife quickly made the Pastor aware of just who was leaving the church and asked him, “Why don’t you just tell people why you had to make such a difficult decision concerning the deacon by removing him from leadership? Why are you protecting him when he is hurting you?”
The Pastor told his wife that he had made a promise of confidence to the sweet deacon’s wife, who had endured far too much pain in her young life already, and that he would rather take the gossip and story-telling upon his own life than to bring even more shame onto hers. The Pastor’s wife understood but found it very hard to watch the Pastor being attacked with lies week after week, all the while protecting someone who was clearly deceiving people and violating God’s Word.
Time passed and the Pastor never again saw the deacon and his wife. Thankfully they attended another church, at least for awhile, and the Pastor prayed that they would find help from the shepherd there. The church flock returned to its usual happy self and began to grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
But the scenario repeated itself several times, with different people and circumstances. Each time the shepherd refused to bring shame or further pain on those who had been ill affected by one who sinned and broke the Law of God.
When the Pastor learned that young teenage girls were being molested by their father at home it was not hard to alert the proper authorities and do everything he could to protect those girls, but it was hard when people in the church, who did not know the whole story, or why the father no longer attended church, once again accused him of being such a terrible Pastor.
Thankfully, the mother and young girls stayed close to their shepherd who kept the details of their sad story to himself. He ministered to the little broken family who needed the church now more than ever, and watched them grow to full maturity in Christ.
But the young Pastor’s wife continued to ponder all these situations in her heart. Was the Pastor doing the flock a service by protecting a perpetrator of poison among God’s people? Why should he protect those who choose to hurt others, and then keep silent, leaving the flock with many, many unanswered questions? The Pastor’s wife brought her thoughts to his attention. After much prayer and searching the Word for answers, the Pastor felt it would be pleasing to God to offer answers to anyone who asked.
From that day forward the Pastor has opened his heart and his office door, not to tell stories or gossip, or to bring shame or dishonor on anyone, but to thoughtfully, carefully and prayerfully answer questions of concern the flock may genuinely have about a brother or sister who has left the flock.
The Pastor’s wife agreed that this was indeed in the best interest of the flock whom they love and serve. The Pastor’s wife was happy once again, therefore the Pastor was happy, that made the people happy, and they all lived happily ever after … until the next wolf.
(PS … This is a true story in every sentence and every sense. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.)
by Valerie Holmes