|True Stories: The Humble Pastor|
by Ken Sande, Founder of Peacemaker Ministries
The pastor of a church I attended during college clearly understood the importance of seeking peace with an estranged brother. He demonstrated this the Sunday I brought a friend named Cindy to church for the first time. I had met Cindy at school and learned that she was struggling in her spiritual life, largely because the church she attended provided little biblical teaching. Thinking that she might find meaningful instruction and encouragement from my church, I had invited her to worship with me one Sunday.
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I was unprepared for what took place shortly after Cindy and I took our seats, because I had forgotten that during the previous week's Sunday school period my pastor and an elder had gotten into a public argument. Pastor Woods called for the attention of the congregation and asked the elder with whom he had quarreled to join him at the pulpit. "As most of you know," Pastor Woods said, "Kent and I had an argument during Sunday school last week. Our emotions got out of hand, and we said some things that should have been discussed in private."
As I thought of the first impression Cindy must be getting, my stomach sank. "Of all the days to bring someone to church," I thought, "why did I pick this one?" I was sure this incident would discourage Cindy from coming to my church again.
Pastor Woods put his arm around Kent's shoulders and went on. "We want you to know that we met that same afternoon to resolve our differences. By God's grace, we came to understand each other better, and we were fully reconciled. But we need to tell you how sorry we are for disrupting the unity of this fellowship, and we ask for your forgiveness for the poor testimony we gave last week."
Many eyes were filled with tears as Pastor Woods and Kent prayed together. Unfortunately, I was so worried about what Cindy might be thinking that I completely missed the significance of what had happened. Making a nervous comment to Cindy, I opened the hymnal to our first song and hoped she would forget about the whole incident. The rest of the service was a blur, and before long I was driving her home. I made light conversation for a few minutes, but eventually Cindy referred to what had happened: "I still can't believe what your pastor did this morning. I've never met a minister in my church who had the courage and humility to do what he did. I'd like to come to your church again."
During subsequent visits, Cindy's respect for my pastor and for Kent continued to grow, and before long she made our church her spiritual home. She saw real evidence of God's presence and power in those two men. Their humility highlighted God's strength and helped Cindy to take Christ more seriously. As a result, she committed herself to Christ and began to grow in her faith. As I watch that growth continue to this day, I still thank God for those two men and their willingness to obey the Lord's call to peace and unity.
Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict (Baker Books, Updated Edition, 2003).