Pastor, You Cannot Offend Me!
Every family experiences the occasional kerfuffle, some more than others. Since the church is a family and since families are made up of sinners (redeemed or otherwise), churches will have conflict. Some of the sweetest words in my pastoral recollection came at a time when our church was experiencing a time of testing. As the pastor, I was at the center of the conflict. My pastoral skills were being tested and, unfortunately, were not always up to the challenge. People had been offended. Not because I tried to be hurtful, but, apparently, I was.In the midst of one such conflict I turned to a deacon with whom I was praying and asked him with all the sincerity I could muster that if I ever did anything to “offend” him, would he please let me know so that I could make things right? Sadly, I seemed to offend people without even knowing it. I passed someone in the church corridor with my mind fixed on the service or whatever, and I failed to give a proper greeting. Or someone was sick or in the hospital, and I failed to visit soon or often enough. Or someone had a need, and I seemed oblivious. To be sure, some of the offenses were genuine. I was sometimes in my own world and missed an opportunity to minister. But at other times, life happened and despite my best efforts, an offense was received.
It was in that sort of context I asked the deacon to alert me to my error. Happily, he responded, “Pastor, you cannot offend me!” Even now as I write this post, I have a lump in my throat. What was he saying? “Pastor, you never do anything wrong?” “Pastor, I’m 100% for you?” “Pastor, you walk on water?” Hardly . . . he had none of these in mind. We both knew better. But what he was saying and what he added was that he was determined to love me for who I was, warts and all, and to pray for me that God would sanctify me!
Man, talk about encouragement! Here was a man on whom I could depend. Here was one of David’s three mighty men. Every pastor needs that kind of encouragement! We need to be this kind of subordinate, and we need this kind of support. If we Christians would look at each other with a “you cannot offend me” attitude, I wonder what the world would think? “By this shall all men know you are my disciples . . . if you love one another” (Jn 13:35). Lord, help me not to be easily offended!