It’s one of the ugliest arguments I’ve ever been a part of.
It’s also the first time I realized that to be successful in ministry and to be a person of integrity, I had to take a stand . . . A firm stand. AND – that stand had to be for what I believed in, not just what would make me the most popular with the majority.
So many lessons learned during that dark period . . . and from the outside looking in, no one would know that the time was “dark” for me. But – I was so consumed with the situation and it was so tumultuous, one day driving in to work, I rear-ended the car in front of me. I had been sitting in Lake Norman High School early morning traffic for quite some time and my mind was deep in the pits of obsessing about this situation. I just didn’t compute “put on brakes, you are going to roll into the car in front of you.” Literally! I wasn’t distracted. I wasn’t on the phone. I was staring straight ahead . . . and just didn’t process to put on the brakes.
Why was the situation so consuming?
For years I’d done ministry trying to “keep everyone happy.” I wanted “everyone to love Andrea” so I would do whatever it took, however many hours it took, however much time it took away from my kids and my husband . . . to keep people happy.
One December I attended every Christmas party I was invited to (and when there are a lot of Sunday School classes and different “groups” there are A LOT of parties!!!) Apparently it was tradition to always invite the pastors, and typically the pastors went. By the time Christmas came, my family pointed out that I had not been home more than 2 nights a week the entire month, and never around on the weekends. They were right . . . I was a “people pleaser” at it’s finest!
This tumultuous situation, however, was the first in which I had to “state an opinion” in a public manner and I could no longer “waffle” and try to have a foot on both sides of the fence.
Honestly, now over 10 years later, I have NO CLUE what the argument was about. But it was so significant at the time it ended up splitting a United Methodist Women’s Circle into two groups and there had to be mediation with the senior pastor and a few families.
They wanted me to choose a side.
And in doing so, I knew the people on the opposite side would not be very fond of me. To me, that was like a knife in the gut.
Yet, somehow by connecting to God in a way that I probably had not done before in my career, I discerned what my core values were around the issue and took a stand.
What did I learn from this? That taking a stand in kindness and love did more for establishing my integrity than any amount of trying to keep people happy ever would.
What matters more to us? Integrity or Popularity?
Something to consider.
2 Timothy 1:7Common English Bible (CEB)
7 God didn’t give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled.