When was the last time you got “good and angry” about something or someone? As LifeWay’s pastor to pastors, I don’t want to just be a safe place for pastors to vent, but a voice of encouragement to those who would rather work through their anger than to wallow in it.
Honestly, most pastors and church leaders I talk to are happy campers. Yet, it is unrealistic to believe that we will avoid conflict and criticism in our ministries. It’s gonna happen, so let’s learn to be both good and angry by revisiting what Jesus taught His Disciples in Luke 6:27-38.
1. Love Those Who Hate You
“Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you” (v. 27).
This “love” is not a generic, romantic, or even friendship kind of love. Agape love is a uniquely Christian love that is unilateral, unconditional, and very intentional. Instead of taking matters of justice in your own hands, turn the tables on your attackers by trusting God to take care of the abusers.
I was recently paid a great compliment by my friend Sonny Tucker who saw me struggle through a staff storm several years ago: “The high road you took was one of the greatest displays of leadership I’ve ever seen.” Sonny spoke those words in front of my LifeWay boss, which doubled its impact on me. If you don’t want to live in the land of regrets, choose to love and refuse to hate.
2. Disarm Those Who Attack You
“Bless those who curse you… If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also” (vv. 28-29a).
In first century Israel, a mild backhanded slap was meant to insult, intimidate, and instigate a fight. Instead of allowing your enemy to control you, take control of yourself and the situation by forcing him to attack you or back off. It is okay to defend yourself against abuse, just don’t let a bully bait you into a fight that nobody can win.
Jesus is showing us how to disarm ourselves before we shoot ourselves or somebody else.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).
3. Pray For Those Who Hurt You
“Pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28a).
Preachers usually have a strong sense of justice and we want to fix things…fast. “Pray for those who mistreat you” sounds passive, yet it is, in reality, the most productive thing we can do because prayer defuses us first. Commit to praying for those who are committed to hurting you. Add them to your prayer list right now, then lay them daily at the foot of the cross.
4. Give To Those Who Use You
“And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them” (vv. 29a-32).
This sort of feels like an extra-credit assignment, doesn’t it? “Credit” is the Greek word (charis) for grace. Even ungodly people can practice reciprocal giving, but grace-giving is giving something to someone who doesn’t deserve it. Many pastors are underpaid and overworked, which can lead to anger and resentment. Serve the Lord “enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23). God will reward that.
It is okay for pastors and church leaders to get “good and angry,” just don’t let your anger turn into sin (Eph. 4:26). Instead, choose to love, pray, and give for the sake of your Lord, your church, your family, and yourself.