There's a pastor in town who refers members of "his" church and "our" community to me for care and counseling on an irritatingly regular basis; as if I don't have enough to do.
He says, "I can't counsel that person because she/he and I are too close."
Oh, I get it.
He wants me to do the dirty work.
He wants to be the good, uh, cop; entrusting me with the privilege of tearing down to build up.
Ever since I got it/Him, confessing I still mess up too regularly and rely upon His grace to fill in the gaps of my ability/attitude/affections, I've realized a pastor/person who really loves Jesus by loving like Jesus is more concerned about loving than being liked concomitant to the belief that people can never be healthy apart from a saving relationship with Him that precludes agreeing with the last person talked to.
I've come to realize wanting to be liked at the expense of loving after the pattern of Jesus and prescriptions of Holy Scripture is like ending a sentence with a preposition.
It's like the old priest said to the young priest in The Diary of a Country Priest, "Salt stings on an open wound but saves you from gangrene."
I like to be liked; but that's not part of the beruf.
I take the referrals.
Speaking of counseling, mine has changed over the past decade.
Previously, I allowed lots of time for listening to people articulate and enumerate why they've been displaying behaviors and experiencing life apart from the healthy fruit of His Spirit as noted in Galatians 5:22-26.
It made me very popular like the pastors whose ministries are like sentences ending with prepositions as they agree with the last person talked to.
But no one was really helped.
Self-medication and auto-suggestion rarely heal.
Currently, while still allowing a little time for folks to vent, I move quickly to encouraging increased intimacy with Jesus as the cure for what's ailing 'em; prescribing with the Psalmist, "God inhabits the praises of His people."
When people move into greater intimacy with God, their problems seem to dissipate or disappear miraculously.
God has a supernatural way of healing people who hang out with Him.
I have also discovered people who say that's not true are betraying their lack of intimacy with Him.
Intimacy with God turns trickles into rivers of living water.
In a world with so many irascibles, irregulars, and irreconcilables, increased intimacy with our Lord enables us to love 'em like He loves 'em to prove we love Him.
Or something like that.
People who are intimate with God show the evidence/proof of that relationship in behaviors, uh, confirming that communion (again, take a look at Galatians 5:22-26).
Here's a little secret that isn't really a secret to anyone who gets it/Him more than less.
If you know somebody - an occasional glance in the mirror can be disturbing/convicting - who is cranky, contentious, or any of those things beginning with "i" listed in the previous section, it's because they're not intimate with God.
Intimacy with God = increasingly Godly behaviors (again, go to Galatians 5:22-26).
That's why I tell my children, wife, and members of our family of faith at First, "If you see me acting cranky or contentious or anything like that, you'll know I'm not spending enough time in personal/corporate worship, prayer, Bible study, and communion with Him/His; and I want you to tell me that!"
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There was a person who used to be a part of a church that I served years ago who left the church because I could/would not prostitute myself enough to agree with everything that she/he pushed/wanted/demanded to prove I was worthy of her/his affirmation/affection and following her/his "favorite" pastor.
Some people can never make the transition from one pastor to another and make life miserable for successors by longing for the way things never were or maybe were but are no more; kinda like how some wives and husbands feel about never being "good enough" to satiate.
Well, you know how it goes.
Accusing the brethren.
99.99% of most churches just let it happen because, well, uh, geez, sigh, "we're" supposed to eat/take/swallow/propitiate it.
We're paid to be holy/abused.
I was starting to get cranky/contentious/i/i/i over her/him.
I spent more and more and more time with Him about it.
Here's what happened.
I had a dream about her/him/it; and, in the dream, I was hugging her/him/it in a holy kinda way.
As I was hugging her/him/it, I saw/heard myself screaming to God, "Please wake me up! I'm going to puke! This person hates me and has hurt my wife and children and so many members of the church. Her/his/its children can't even look me in the eye when they see me 'cause they know how vile..."
It went on and on and on.
I woke up.
It happens if we allow Him if you know what I mean.
While I don't think He insists I ask c/c/i/i/i's like her/him/it to ride with me to Sturgis in August on the Road King that I don't have because I still owe too much on my plastic, intimacy with God enabled me to overcome my anger toward her/him/it with a sorrow for her/his/its behaviors that will catch up with her/him/it sooner than later and...
Somebody wrote, "In a world of dragons, God has not granted permission for us to breathe fire."
The only way to extinguish flames is increased intimacy with Him.
It's the ultimate/best referral.
Blessings and Love!
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