Every year our church participates in community Holy Week Services. One church will serve as host for the community services with a different Pastor bringing the message each day. On this day, the privilege was mine. I came early to make sure everything was set up and in place. Upon my arrival, the sound man at that church gave me a wireless microphone to attach to my lapel and the battery pack for my belt. I was wired and ready to go.
I sat down on the front row to go over my notes before the service. A while later a Pastor friend of mine came up, gave me a hug and told me he was praying for me. He is a big, burly, guy who has a great sense of humor. I thanked him and commented that “I was wired up and ready to go.”
At this point in the conversation my friend pointed at my lapel mic and said, “Boy I don’t like those things. One of those got a pastor friend of mine fired.” Obviously I wanted to hear how this happened so I asked him to tell me more.
The pastor had just finished a deacons meeting before the service which did not go well. Regardless of what was said in the meeting he left very angry. He immediately went into the restroom and began “venting” before he had to preach. After all “no one else was in there” he thought.
But there was a big problem he knew nothing about. For some reason, his lapel mic was “ON”. That is right I said, “ON”. Everyone in the sanctuary had a front row seat to the pastor’s “bathroom rant”.
According to my friend, “He was calling them all by name and called them everything in the book.”
When he finished his rant, the deacons met him at the door of the bathroom and ushered him out the of the church. He was fired.
My friend went on to say, “And that’s why I don’t like lapel mics.”
I said, “I hope you understand something though, it was not the lapel mic that got him fired? It was what he said that got him fired.”
There are as least three problems we see in what occurred with this pastor.
1. What came out of his mouth. The Bible gives countless warnings on the tongue. It can be a deadly poison (James 3:8), can be filled with blessings and cursing (James 3:9-10) but is also the rudder of life. Your tongue can raise you to new heights or lead you into untold suffering. It can and must be controlled. (James 1:26)
2. He gave vent to his anger. He did not get fired for what he thought. He did not get fired because he was angry. He got fired because what he thought, he let out. In Proverbs 29:11 we are told that we are foolish to give full vent to our anger. “A fool gives full vent to anger, but the wise quietly holds it back.” When we give public vent to our anger 99% of the time it makes EVERYTHING WORSE. Avoid it at all costs.
Scripture acknowledges that there are times when we are angry but they do not have to lead to sin. “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Ephesians 4:26
3. The final issue for this pastor is what his anger revealed. What came out of his mouth revealed the content of his heart. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34. This is the most troubling of his problems. He could have been angry, given vent to it, and possibly got away with it, but the moment he started cursing others he lost all credibility. It is the language of the mouth that reveals the content of the heart.
We may make excuses for it but it came out…because it was in there.
Ok, let’s stop a second and ask ourselves a question, “What do we do AFTER we have said something that we should not have?” It is a question we need to answer.
What do you do after a colossal failure? Scripture would give you these three things.
- Confess it to God. Ask Him to forgive you. Don’t hide it or conceal it, confess it. He knows you and your heart and wants what is best for you. In this prayer of confession also ask for wisdom on what you should do next.
- Make amends to anyone you harmed because of your words. Apologize to the person you said it to AND anyone who heard it. I know this is a humbling thing. Trust me I have had to do this more than once. You may say, “But I only said what I said because they first said what they said to me.” That may be true so don’t apologize for their part. Just apologize for your own. Those who fail to do this will often lose credibility in that relationship.
- Address things when they initially occur and don’t let them build up. Sooner is always better than later. It takes courage to do this when it needs to be done. If you need to calm down before you apologize then feel free to do so but don’t allow the “cool down” period to lead to procrastination. Putting it off will only make it more difficult to address. You may start telling yourself,”I should not say anything because it has been so long now.” Don’t wait.
- Seek to understand why you said what you did. The why of our rants are often indicative of other underlying issues. Ask yourself things like, “Why did I get so mad?” or “Why did I say what I did?” The issue could be a problem that has been brewing for a long time and whenever they said or did ______, it came to the surface. There is always a “why” to our actions. More times than not it is spiritual.
Our spiritual life is not a game of “flawless perfection.” We do and say things we should not from time to time. Hiding our wrongs or acting like they do not exist resolves nothing. Open and honest confession brings about restoration to God and others.
It will be difficult but you will be better because of it.
Just be careful the next time you wear a lapel mic…