Saturday, July 18, 2009

How Strong is Envy? Part 3

Pr 27:4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

It IS possible to defeat an envious person, but it can be difficult. A small Baptist church had a very badly-written church constitution. It permitted children to vote, and on every anniversary of his hiring, the pastor could be fired by 25% of the vote. No joke; 25% of the membership could fire him. New members couldn't vote until they had been members for one year, so it didn't even take 25%.

Two men with large families controlled the vote, and they routinely fired every pastor on his anniversary, often over the objections of the majority of the tiny church. Without being elected, they controlled the church, and they envied the popularity and success of any pastor who could take their power away. Then, my friend Mel became the pastor.

Under Mel's leadership, the church tripled in attendance in a matter of months. And as the anniversary drew near, the two men assured everyone that they were going to fire him, although the rest of the church didn't want to. One month before the anniversary, the two families took a vacation together, and Mel got to work.

As I said, this church had a badly-written constitution. They could have a surprise business meeting any time a quorum of members was present, and they could amend the Church Constitution at any business meeting. Mel called all the members on the phone and told them he was having a business meeting on the Wednesday night that these two families would be absent. There, they amended the constitution to require a 50% vote to fire the pastor.

The two families returned to find out that they had lost their power. When one of the men threatened to give Mel a beating, Mel demanded that he keep his promise. From then on, any time the man started something, Mel demanded that the man keep his promise to fistfight him, and the problem disappeared.

Months later, the last I heard of them, the church was doing well, was growing steadily, and had a happy congregation.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How Strong is Envy Part 2

Pr 27:4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

About thirty years ago, a good Baptist church was running about 175 in children's church, mostly due to their bus ministry. The pastor asked me (I didn't ask him) to be in charge. Several of us worked hard, and attendance grew to around 300.

Meanwhile, the pastor's wife held a lot of authority in the church, mistreating secretaries and other staff, and often forcing her husband to carry out policies he disagreed with. I was called into the pastor's office one day, where she told me that she was a mature Christian and I was an immature Christian, and therefor God had called her to take over the children's church.

When I pointed out that she had nothing to do with the blessing God was giving us, she replied that God hadn't called her to work on bus routes; He had called her to rule over people who did. I refused, her husband over-ruled me, and three years later, she had taken the children's church from 300 to 10.

Earlier, I had pointed out this same problem with jealousy: if you're in a family-run church, your church probably has incompetent leadership. And if you start being blessed and used by God, that family is going to start moving in to take over your ministry.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Strength of Envy Part 1

Pr 27:4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

Who is able to stand before envy? - The rabbins have a curious story on this subject, and it has been formed by the moderns into a fable. There were two persons, one covetous and the other envious, to whom a certain person promised to grant whatever they should ask; but double to him who should ask last. The covetous man would not ask first, because he wished to get the double portion, and the envious man would not make the first request because he could not bear the thoughts of thus benefiting his neighbor. However, at last he requested that one of his eyes should be taken out, in order that his neighbor might lose both.

From Adam Clarke's Commentary