A Problem with Trusting.

One of the less-visible wounds from betrayal or abuse by leaders we've trusted is an unbalanced sense of trust. Some will not easily trust again, and yes, that needs healing, but a less-visible (and therefore more dangerous) wound works in the opposite direction: too much trust.
A victim of untrustworthy leadership (and the "untrustworthy" can be merely in the mind of the wounded) very often has lost a measure of confidence in their own ability to "correctly" hear from the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, this makes it easy to walk away from an untrustworthy leader, only to concede too much trust to trustworthy leaders, even to the point where we (perhaps unknowingly) trust the leader's words more than the things that Holy Spirit speaks to us directly.
I see at least three temptations in this:

1) Leaders can be flattered and tempted to take the place of the Holy Spirit in a wounded person's life. ("They need me!") This is not an insignificant temptation; it feels good to be needed.
2) The wounded person can be tempted to look to a man (or woman, but usually a man) instead of to the Holy Spirit. ("I trust him to hear God correctly!") This often masquerades as a "safe" alternative.
3) They both are likely being set up for a serious disappointment. We're talking "crash and burn" level  disappointment here.
The reality is that no human being can really take the place of the Holy Spirit in my life, and any attempt (intentional or not) to do so will end in disaster.
I have watched helplessly as this scenario has exploded in marital affairs, divorce, broken congregations and the violent end of the successful ministries of people on both ends of the equation. Occasionally it has resulted (presumably with other complications) in murder. I suppose these are predictiable, given that the source of this calamity is famous for "stealing, killing & destroying." 
My "takeaway" from this is to emphasize - in my life, and to the folks around me - that God is an effective Father, well able to lead his children Himself: my goal is always to lead others to Christ, and to be led myself to Him. Any time (and I think this is an absolute) one human being lingers between God and another human being, there will be trouble. 


Trust His Heart (Even When It Hurts)

It's always a challenge to trust someone's heart, whether it's God or our brothers/sisters. But it makes a huge difference in our experience in that relationship; it can make the difference between growth and suffering.

Spurgeon wrote: ‎”God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.”

When others (whether God or man) do something that we don't understand, or something that hurts, the enemy accuses them before us. He often declares, “Look what they did to you! You can’t trust them! That hurt you! They did it on purpose!” Implicit in his accusation is the assumption that we have the right to judge God, to judge our brother or our sister. The accuser of the brethren accuses them before us, and invites – tempts – us to join in that accusation. He tempts us to join his work against those whom we have trusted.

But we actually have the choice: We can often look past the event to their heart. With God we can say, “I am confident that God will not do something for the purpose of hurting me. If I can't trust my understanding of what He's doing, at least I can trust his goodness; I can trust that he is FOR me! He has my best interests in mind.” And it helps take the sting out of it.

And if our brother or sister does something that we don't understand, something that hurts, we have the option of looking past that “something” to their heart. We can't say that every brother, every sister has our best interests in mind, but often, they do, and yet the enemy still accuses them before us. It is appropriate to look past the thing that we don't understand to their heart.

If we can say, “I don't understand, but I know that they're FOR me,” then we can trust their heart, instead of our understanding of their actions. It doesn't fix the problem (and there will always be problems among human beings), but it takes out some of the sting, and it silences the enemy's accusations, which are much of the source of pain.

Sometimes we have to say, “Yeah, that was stupid, but they didn't know any better.” Maybe it's because they're immature; maybe it's because they didn't know we're fragile in that area; maybe it's because they're going through their own storm right now.

Often enough, I have been led to declare, “I don’t know that they are for me, but I will not assume otherwise. I don’t even know that they didn’t know any better, but I will not assume otherwise. They may have done that to hurt me, but I will not join the enemy’s accusation against them!”

Still the enemy accuses them before us, tempts us to be their judge and jury, tempts us to take our eyes off of Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and focus instead on the offense, on the pain (real or imagined) that it causes.

If we choose to partner with the father of lies, we will believe his accusation, assume evil of our brother, and join his accusation or resent him, and thus is a “root of bitterness “planted in our heart. We don’t often intentionally choose to partner with the accuser, but if we respond with accusation, resentment, bitterness, then that is in fact the choice we have made. Ouch.

If we instead choose to partner with the Father of Light, then we can choose to trust that in the midst of it all, He has our best interests in mind, trust that he will bring good out of the evil, trust our brother’s heart. I’ve heard some starry-eyed brethren insist that if we’re focused on God, then it won’t hurt. Bosh. That’s denial.

A wound is a wound, and while it’s not profitable to focus on the wound, neither is it profitable to pretend it’s not there. But if we respond in trust – of God, and of our brother – then it’s a lesser wound than the enemy’s plan, and it can be healed more quickly, more completely, and more profitably: we can learn from the wound.

Graham Cooke teaches that the wise response is not to become hard in an attempt to be un-woundable. The wise response is to learn to be healed quickly.

Father, let us respond as Jesus did, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do,” and as Stephen did, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” The devil’s got more than enough followers anyway; I won’t add my name to that list.


Diversity as Maturity.

I've been thinking (a dangerous task for an otherwise peaceful Sunday morning, I understand).

I suspect that we can learn a lesson from disagreement: the degree to which we are able to remain in relationship with someone who holds opinions contrary to our own is an indication of the maturity of our relationship. If I can continue to be friends – not an acquaintance: real, genuine, share-your-lives friends – with someone whom you disagree about significant subjects with, that is a sign of maturity in the both of you, an din them.

There are many among us who appear to be compelled to be right in their relationships (or to bee seen as right, which – unbeknownst to them – is NOT the same thing). There are numbers among us people who cannot abide the idea of divergent thought among friends! Free will? Predestination? Grace? Judgment? Pre-trib? Post trib? Sola Scriptura? Revelation? Gay marriage? Abortion?  There are some who seem to think that it is their calling in life to convince others that they are right, and if we’ll only shut up and listen to them, our eyes will be opened and we’ll see the error of our ways and repent from disagreeing with them.

They demonstrate their immaturity.

Jesus Himself is a fine model; let no one say that his choices are the result of immaturity! And yet His best friends, the men with whom He shared every aspect of life while he was on this planet, did not even understand the things He most treasured. One of His best friends so completely disagreed with both His end and his means that he sold Him out for a month’s wages. And yet Jesus – until the very betrayal – was as good a friend to him as to Peter and John.

Consensus about doctrinal issues, or political, social, vocational issues, is not a requirement for mature friendship. Two cannot walk together unless they are agreed, but nobody said there needed to be any more agreement than just agreeing to walk together as friends.

Our unit, we remember, does not come from what we have learned, what we believed, what nation we were born in; our unity comes from our Father: if we are children of the same Father, then we are brothers. If one of us has an agenda ahead of the Father’s agenda, then that other loyalty is the issue, not the fact that we’re somehow, mysteriously, brothers, sons of an amazing Father.