I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the old black and white TV show called the Twilight Zone, but it was a TV show that had a different story line each episode. Well, one of the episodes was about a little boy who, when he was angry at someone, had the ability to stare at them so deeply that he could make certain things happen to them. It was his dad who made him mad, so he sent him to a far off corn field. Imagine that if every time someone made you mad or hurt you, you could stare at them and send them to a far off corn field. I would be lying if I said I haven’t wanted to send a few people from ministry or from different parts of my life off to a corn field. The truth is that sometimes we will just come across difficult people. Those people where it seems like no matter how nice we are, how much we serve them, or no matter how hard we work- they just don’t like us and want to give us a hard time.
I remember being about 10 or 11 years old and feeling for the first time that someone didn’t like me. It was a woman in the church who had a daughter my same age. No matter how nice I was to her and her daughter, it only made her like me less and be really mean to me. I didn’t tell my parents right away because one: my parents raised me to fight and push through my own battles, and two: because I thought my mom would get all momma bear and give this woman a peace of her mind. (My mom is the sweetest women until provoked! Now that I think of it, maybe that’s where I get that from. BUT back to the story.) I tried so hard and this woman still didn’t like me. I remember going to my aunties after church one Sunday, and I was really sad because I had yet another unpleasant encounter with this woman. My Auntie noticed that I was sad and asked me what happened. I told her everything and how it made me feel. Her words were so simple, but so wise and I will never forget them. She told me, “Mija not everyone in this world is going to like you. Sometimes they will have their reasons and sometimes they will dislike you for no good reason. But you don’t let that stop you from being who you are and loving people the way you do.” She said, “Respect them, treat them with kindness, and give it to the Lord.” To this day I have never forgotten those words and they have been words I have needed to remember all throughout ministry.
It is so painful to not to be liked by someone. No one likes being the one left out. No one likes being the one that is treated differently. Yes, many would think that this doesn’t happen in a Christian setting but it does. It is the simple fact that we are sinners saved by grace and we are all a work in progress. Hurt people, hurt people and because we are leaders and pastors we deal with a lot of hurt people. So we can’t be surprised when the hurt people we are trying to help turn around and hurt us. We shouldn’t be surprised, but we can’t change that it is difficult and it hurts. The easy thing to do would be to pray them off to the corn field, but we are called to love and to let God restore. Let’s look at some verses from the Bible that relates to this:
Luke 6:27-29:"But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold"
Matthew 5:44-45:"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."
1 Peter 3:9:"Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing."
Sometimes I read the Bible and tell God “this is much easier to read than to put into practice.” It is so hard when people mistreat us or talk behind our back. It is so hard when you are trying to help and end up being accused of the opposite. These are the hard moments of ministry that not a lot of people talk about. When gossip is spoken about us you pray and hope people will know your character, but to some a juicy peace of gossip is better than finding out the truth and thinking the best of someone. Some days you just want to pray them to the corn field (or pray yourself to the cornfield) just to get away from them! People are human and they are going to hurt us just like we are human and we are going to hurt people. How beautiful would this world be if we all treated each other with the love of Christ?
An attack on our character is one of the biggest blows as a minster because some days we have to push through with all our might to do what’s right. I am sorry that in this world some people will dislike you without a reason. I am sorry we live in a world that would rather fight than forgive. I am sorry that we live in a world that would rather gossip together than seek God’s truth together. I am sorry that as a Pastor and leader you are pouring out so much and you still have to deal with difficult people. Sometimes people suck, but then again sometimes we suck too. We can’t give up on people though because people are ministry.However, we can continue to live by example. We can continue to choose to love and pray for them. We can continue to be who God called us to be and give them over to the Lord. If you are hurting today because of a difficult person, please know you are not alone and you are not who they say you are. You are who God says you are and he says that you are good, you are forgiven, you are redeemed, and you are so loved by him! So put your trust and everything else in the Father. If that doesn’t work you could always pray them to the corn field, or take’em there yourself! Just kidding….. Kind of!