Last Sunday in our church's annual congregational meeting, our leadership team & I cast a missional vision for the coming year which called for a number of new spiritual, emotional, relational, temporal & financial investments. While most received the prayed-over ideas with anticipation, a handful of rather vocal people did not. Personal insecurity plus a platform to be heard & we had the makings for some spicy fireworks that resulted in a good ol' fashion pastoral reaming. In God's grace everything worked out, & I think everyone left feeling that we're in this together & we're headed in a God-honoring direction. I made some observations, though, that have continued to press on my heart...
1) Insecure & shame-based people tend to look for substitute enemies.
People who have baggage that they don't know how to deal with or don't want to confront live with a strong sense of self-loathing that looks for an enemy to blame & punish for their pain. I think I felt a bit of that last week. In fact ... it seems that authority & power & leadership are popular targets for those people to aim their hurt & animosity at.
2) People have a tendency of seeing leaders as faces of the institution, not real people.
I was blown away by some of the comments that came out against me & others in that meeting. I'm pretty sure these folks wouldn't have communicated with such uncensored hostility & disrespect had they been in a face to face conversation with any of us. Something about the safety of numbers & disassociating leaders from their humanity seems to give emotional license for wounded people to take cheap shots.
Anyway... good stuff to learn & I'm grateful for the spirit of God in the meeting. It's also one more lesson in the dysfunctionality of "congregational" forms of church polity. But God remains good & faithful to rescue with powerful intervention even as He did Sunday. He is our Strength, our Refuge & ... as Psalm 16 puts it ... "our only good". Right on.