It takes a hear head to raise our children a culture that is antagonistic to God. It takes a hard head to stand your ground in the face of opposition. The lesson that God and my wife taught me and are still teaching me is this: In order to fulfill God’s calling in your life it will take a soft heart and a hard head.
November 16, 2012
A Soft Heart and a Hard Head
7 But the people of Israel are not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the Israelites are hardened and obstinate. 8 But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. 9 I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.”10 And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. 11 Go now to your people in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.”The future of our church in Murphysboro Illinois was hanging in the balance. I was young inexperienced and had a desire to please our new congregation. While the majority of the church was excited we were there, a small minority of key members were neither young nor experienced and one of their favorite dinner dishes was fried pastor. On one particular Sunday night I had just finished preaching and we had dismissed the service. Three men approached me in the area right between the platform and the front pew on the left hand side. One of the men was clearly the spokesman for the group. They surrounded me and formed a triangle. I’m sure that the Bermuda triangle is not more dangerous or terrifying than this triangle was to me. “Some of us have been talking and we think you need to preach about ___________. The content was irrelevant. It was not a friendly suggestion, but it was clear that demands were being placed on me. These men were physically strong, influential, and frankly they terrified me. When an animal is cornered its instincts are “fight or flight.” I had nowhere to run so I had to stand and face the music. It was one of those moments in which I feel like “the spirit gave the utterance.” I firmly said, “I came to the church speak the Word that God gave me to share with the congregation. I will not be taking preaching orders from you or anybody else. Now if you gentlemen will excuse me, I need to go be with my family.”The men looked started that I would react in such a way, but they stepped aside and let me pass. When I got home I was shaking. I may have sounded confident, but I was extremely insecure about what I had done and what the consequences would be. One of my favorite song lyrics that describes my feelings are these: “deep inside this armour, the warrior is a child.” I am generally an easy-going guy and easy to get along with but something rose up inside me when my leadership was challenged in this way. I downloaded with my wife. Not long after, she shared this passage of scripture with me. “I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are.” My wife told me that she felt God was saying to us that in order to accomplish our mission we were going to have to be more hard-headed that they were. Our foreheads would have to become like flint. She challenged me to be loving and gentle in the way that I present the Word of God to people, but that when confronted by heard headed people, my head would need to be harder. This is a tough task for those of us who like to be liked and like Rodney King just want “everybody to get along.”