(Please read my post here to better understand this follow-up. I promised myself when I started blogging that I would never be anything but real. That I would be willing to admit when I didn’t follow through on something. You decide for yourself what you think of how I handled this situation in light of what I said in the earlier post.)
First of all, I was right. The candidate was voted in before the vote was even taken. It was unanimous except for the two abstentions. (Do you need to ask?) You had to be there to know what I mean. The chairperson was directing the vote with every word he spoke. I’ve never been in a meeting where the process of deciding on a pastor was accomplished with almost no discussion. Was there a moment when we could’ve spoken up? Honestly, I’m not sure there was and considering how the evening was going, I’m not sure it would have served any purpose. Their minds were made up. My little voice would have made no difference except to plant a seed of doubt. I prefer to be like Joshua and Caleb rather than the ten “nay”sayers.
When the time came to vote, I was still not sure. I kept thinking about what I wrote in my post and how I would feel the need to explain to my followers if I didn’t follow through with my “nay” vote. But now I have to digress a little and explain how I sense God’s leading over all.
There’s a book I keep re-reading because I just don’t think I’m “getting” it. I’ve mentioned this book before. It’s Hearing God, by Dallas Willard. It is the only book that has ever stumped me. I mentioned it last night at a Bible study and thank goodness, the man across the table said he was reading it and felt the same way. His wife said she just gave up! Our interim pastor said the same thing (about the difficulty.) That made me feel better.
One of the premises of the book is that we should become so accustomed to hearing God’s voice that we recognize it instantly. I was sure I was led by the Spirit’s voice last Sunday when I listened to the candidate. I was sure when I walked in church tonight that I was still on the right track. But something our interim pastor said struck a chord with me and suddenly I was sensing God was now saying something else. (I don’t like it when God does that, by the way.) I still didn’t feel led to vote “yes” but I also didn’t feel led to vote “no”. So I abstained. Sometimes God doesn’t make things so clear and the best thing we can then is nothing. I said in the earlier post that abstaining would be cowardly. I guess God thought otherwise.
Remember when I said maybe it was all in the timing? I think that is still true. God’s timing, though, not ours. God can re-direct us whenever he chooses and for whatever reason he chooses. In fact I will go so far as to say that in this case I think God’s re-direction had nothing to do with me anyway, but for the members in attendance.
Do you also remember what I said about my spiritual growth not being dependent on whomever is in the pulpit? While that’s true for me, it isn’t necessarily true for others. Not because I’m more spiritually mature maybe but perhaps more because I’ve been very fortunate to have had wonderful teacher pastors over the years who have mentored me and given me a solid foundation. While I enjoy a good sermon, it doesn’t rock my spiritual boat if it’s less than stellar. I can still learn and God can certainly still speak no matter whose in the pulpit.
Most of the people at the meeting were from our second service (we have two) which consists primarily of people over the age of seventy who have faithfully attended this church for many years. They are from a different tradition. A tradition that puts great stock in the position of pastor. I see pastors more as teachers. They see them as shepherds and themselves as sheep. Voting in a pastor is BIG for them. For me, not so much. (I respect ministers as spiritual leaders but not as infallible spiritual leaders.)
As I looked at these people I felt a real warmth towards them. A real appreciation for them. Something I haven’t always felt when they’ve bucked change. The kind and compassionate thing to do was to not “rain on their parade”. Change is coming anyway and I have a hunch the man they just voted in is going to take the church in a new direction. This will be hard for them. It won’t be for me so I can afford to let them have this moment without exercising my right to speak up.
I didn’t know all this when I abstained tonight. I just knew God was re-directing me. I am a little disappointed because there’s a part of me that’s just naturally rebellious. (After all, I am a child of the sixties. 🙂 ) But God always call us to be merciful when we can. Compassion and kindness always trumps our rights to voice our convictions. Trust me, for me NOT to speak up was the bigger sacrifice.
You decide for yourself.I know that should someone ask, I will admit that I didn’t vote for new pastor. But I know me. I know I have a long rope in most situations and am wanting nothing but the best for this man and our church. I’m hoping that next year I will have completely changed my mind.
But as I’m typing tonight I’m sensing a great peace. I am assuming it’s not relief (sometimes we confuse peace with relief) that the whole thing is over and I wasn’t hung out to dry. It’s the peace that only comes from God and he only gives it when we’ve been obedient. I love that I recognized God’s voice so quickly. Lately, I’ve wondered about how to hear his voice even better. (Seems to be God’s been silent about some issues lately. That’s why I’m back to reading “Hearing God”. I’m hoping by the time I leave this earth, I’ll finally have it figured out.)
I would really like to hear from you about this situation. Whether or not you’ve ever felt the need to compromise and if you felt that meant a loss of integrity. Or maybe it was that you did speak out about something and felt less than compassionate when you did, also resulting in feeling you compromised your integrity.
Anyway, it’s over. He’s been voted in and now we’ll see.