Many years ago when I was working on staff at a Church I was offended by a coworker. The issue that offended me is not worth mentioning but it really irritated me and I felt it was a complete contradiction of Jesus command to love one another. I was hurt by the situation and I was angry about it. Oh, and I was justified in my anger. Aren’t we always? The situation went on for months until I felt like resigning my position so as not to work with a hypocrite like this individual.
Before I moved forward with my plan I talked to another staff member about the situation. He had been in ministry longer than I had been alive and i loved him and trusted him completely. As I began to lay out my issues he listened intently. When I was finished giving him all the details and the justification for my offense, and there was plenty, he asked me one question. His question was “Where are your eyes?” I was dumbfounded. “Didn’t you hear me?” I said. I was looking for validation not correction. He just stared at me. After a long moment he said “I heard you. And I’m asking you, Where are your eyes?”. After another long moment I sheepishly answered “On me”. “But I am justified in my offense”, I proclaimed! “He’s wrong and I’m right!”
What my friend said next changed the course of my life and ministry. He said, “it doesn’t matter if you’re right. If your eyes are not on Jesus you’re going to respond the wrong way.” What I realized in that moment was that the enemy was exploiting the fact that my feelings had been hurt, I had been treated disrespectfully and I felt justified in my anger. All he needed to do as I focused on myself and my frustration was to nudge me toward the door.
I made a decision that day to focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. I chose to forgive that person, prayed for he and his family and was able to release him completely. I was able to love him and respect him because Jesus became the source of my validation not him. And I’m so glad I did. God did so many amazing things during my time in that ministry and our lives (me and my family) would not be the same if we had not been there. It was God that put us there and it was a lack of focus that almost took us out prematurely.
The things that I learned were:
a) You can be right and still be wrong. Our focus matters.
b) If God plants you in a place the devil will do anything and use anybody, even really wonderful people, to dislodge you from that place.
c) If you leave a place offended, no one wins.
d) It is imperative to have friends in our lives that will be biblically honest with us and not just validate our position.
So, I have one question for you. Where are your eyes?