Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Jeremiah Burden, Part Four

   The Religious Spirit is a determined beast.  It always tries to shut down truth, or disguise it by calling it other names.  Nah, I'm really not getting weird on you or diving into supernatural oddity.  The Bible states in Ephesians 6:12 that "our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens." 
This amazing artwork based on Ephesians 6:12 is by janmil000:
Now, if you find it strange that I take the Bible literally, than...okay, I'm strange.  But this is my story and to keep forgiving over and over, Daniel and I needed to remember that the men perpetrating these things against us were just "flesh and blood" whom God loves.  It's the Enemy who was using them that was the real issue.  Now, those of you who are justice mongers (I am one, myself) are going to say, "What the hey?  So you're saying they're not culpable?"  No, I'm not saying that.  They still have to answer to God for their sinful actions.  But that's between them and the Holy Spirit.  It's not my job, thank goodness!  But don't worry--justice matters to God, too.  He's the Creator of it.

  So I decided to call Joan Shueman.  She graciously made time in her schedule that very day, and came to my house where I poured out my heart to her.  Alternately fuming and then apologizing for my vehemence, I explained how frightened I was about our situation.  How nobody knew us here.  No one knew Daniel's work ethic.  No one knew his walk with Jesus.  We were "strangers in a strange land", and if Daniel asked for any help in this situation, it could make the problems even worse.  Joan listened intently.  She grieved for me, even apologizing for being one of those who should have reached out and "invited the stranger in".  She agreed with me that the church organization had committed error and had some major issues.  She prayed for me and we wept together.  Joan also suggested that possibly the problem with Crossway was one of ignorance, rather than malignant intent.  This was a thought I could appreciate, one I could do something with.  So, when she suggested that now I needed to follow the model of Matthew 18:15-17 and go speak to Pastor Gavin about these concerns, I was more than ready to agree.  Daniel and I liked Pastor Gavin.  Maybe it was just ignorance.  Gavin just didn't know.  I talked it over with Daniel that night, and we made our appointment for the next morning. 

  Sitting in Pastor Gavin's office with my husband beside me, I began the conversation pleasantly enough.  "You see, Pastor.  I understand it's a crazy time for Crossway.  Everything's topsy-turvy, and some things got dropped.  I think that the major thing that got dropped was actually my husband getting introduced to you.  You don't really know him.  So, I would like to introduce you to my husband..."  

  Beginning this way, I explained Daniel's expertise in media, his work experience in the State Capital of California, the various awards he'd received for his media excellence.  I went on to share how money, especially God's money and the way it was spent, really mattered to him.  How he had already saved Crossway thousands by cutting out inexpedient services that the media department had grown into but hadn't been using.  How he had kept Pastor Ken from buying into a forty thousand dollar website with six thousand dollar annual fees, and had managed the creation of one himself, cutting the cost by more than 80%.  I explained how excited we had been about building with the Crossway team in Freeport.  But that now, a mere two and a half months later, I was starting to look up other jobs for my husband, online, at 3am in the morning. 

  This part all went pretty good.  But the passion had been building, and I'm afraid that then I let it rip: I blasted Crossway for being completely inept at leading.  I told Pastor Gavin that I was tired of hearing everything get blamed on Pastor Ken:  the man had screwed up but he was not here anymore, so the issues we were dealing with were no longer his fault. I told him that Crossway seemed to me to have a hierarchy and a slave caste, with the pastors in the role of masters.  I even told him that it was shameful the way they overworked Ned, let alone how ridiculous the expectations were that had been placed on Daniel.  In regard to the Ned side of the business, I told him that it was also ridiculous that no one made the man behave but that my husband was somehow looked on as at fault for not being able to "get along with him".   Then, I told him that Daniel was a man of excellence, and that this church NEEDED him.  The recent sermon graphic they had handled on their own without Daniel's influence looked like something out of a horror flick, and this exemplified how poorly prepared the pastors were to manage media on their own.

  Yes, I said all of this.  I told you in my introductory blog that I am not a saint.  Pastor Gavin handled my outburst well from what I could tell, so now I calmed down a bit, apologized to him and tried to use a "pastoresque" word picture.

"The puddle" by kaporszosz:
"It's like this, Pastor.  Imagine that you campus pastors are like the lords of a manor, and you all want to get from point A to point B.  Now, the lord of a manor should not be driving his own coach: instead, he has someone for that position; a coachman.  All the lord has to do is tell the coachman where he wants to go and the coachman will drive the coach.  Because the coachman is expert in driving, he will take the lords over the best possible roads, along the shortest route, avoiding the mud and gravel.  What you are doing right now, is taking the expert coachman, putting him behind the coach and telling him to push, while you've got four different lords trying to hold the reins."

  Pastor Gavin seemed to feel that soothing was called for.  He apologized for how unwelcomed we had felt over the past few months.  "I feel the same way about Crossway.  The day before Ken's stuff came out, I was planning on getting together with Ken and resigning.  I know how you feel."   He excused the fact of Ned's overwork by saying that he, Gavin, couldn't make the man go home.  "The man is just different:  he thrives on work."  In regard to the Daniel/Ned state of affairs, Gavin said, "It is impossible for Ned to work on a team.  We have tried and he cannot."  But he stated again that he would insist that Ned turn over the work that was Daniel's and that an email would be sent out (finally) explaining that Daniel was here and that media issues/concerns should be turned over to him, rather than Ned.  He was kind.  His words seemed kind.  In fact, really, he said mostly "the right things" in regard to how we were feeling and what his plans were.

  I looked Pastor Gavin in the eye.  I could tell the meeting was winding down.  "Pastor, I really like you.  I want to believe you.  I hear your words and I appreciate them.  But I do not trust you...yet.  Daniel and I have been through spiritual abuse from pastors in the past.  What matters now, is what you do, not what you say.  We'll see how it goes."

  Which might seem an intense sort of thing to tell a pastor.  But, what can I say?  It was the truth.  The die had been cast.  Now, it was up to them.

Link to The Jeremiah Burden, Part Five:

To be continued...unless mentioned, all names have been changed except my husband's and my own.  I write for healing and for others wounded on similar journeys.

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