One day at work I was sitting in my office when a lady at work asked to speak with me in private. We went into the company conference room where she proceeded to tell me about an incident that had happened months prior that had bugged her all along. The short version was that she had overheard me venting to my husband about an issue that had happened at work at a restaurant one Friday night.
I was wrong. First, I should be careful and conscious of when and where I am speaking (even if it is thirty minutes away). But more importantly, I should not say negative things in the first place about others. I learned a lesson that day. I admitted I was wrong to speak of such things (especially in public no matter who I think is around or not), I apologized and I asked for forgiveness. I don’t like being on the “wrong” end of confrontation, but I have learned that confrontation is often the best way to resolve an issue.
I was glad she came to talk to me…at first.
As soon as the “perfect pastor’s wife” phrase was brought up, I knew this was not going to be an easy conversation for me to finish.
“I know you are a Pastor’s wife. It disappointed me that someone in your role would talk behind someone’s back. It seems to me that if someone is going to marry a Pastor and take on that role, they have to be better than that.”
The words stung like 1000 bees attacking me at once. I quickly prayed.
“Lord, give me the right words.”
Tears rolling down my face, I replied (something along the lines of),
“I’m very sorry for disappointing you. I was wrong in what I said and I hope you will forgive me. If I could go back, I would do it differently. But you see, the fact that I am a Pastor’s wife does not make me perfect.
If I were perfect, I wouldn’t need Jesus at all. The reason I love the Lord and do my best to follow Him is actually because I’m NOT perfect. I need Jesus – I need His love, His compassion and ultimately, His grace. I, as much as anyone, needed Him to die on the cross for my sins because I sin, and will continue to sin, each and every day (despite my efforts to pursue righteousness). The Lord has called me to the role of a Pastor’s wife. With that comes responsibility, but if you are looking to me to be someone who will be perfect at all times, I assure you I will disappoint, over and over again.”
She proceeded to tell me that she did not want to put that kind of pressure on me, and realized before approaching me that it wasn’t exactly fair. The conversation ended well. We have a mutual understanding of one another and we both left on good terms. I’m glad she confronted me. I’m glad we got it out in the open and I’m also glad I had the chance to apologize.
In my short few years in the ministry, I have seen a few instances where people have left the church or never come at all because of something that someone did that they didn’t like, they didn’t think was “Christian,” or that hurt their feelings in some way. “They are all hypocrites.” If I had a dime for every time I heard that I would be a millionaire.
I get it to some extent. As Christians, we are called to do the right thing. We are called to live a life like Christ. We are called to be better than the rest. When people believing and proclaiming these things fail, it’s easy to point fingers and get our feelings hurt. However, we need to remember that we are still human and humans are sinners.
I’m not making excuses for wrongdoings, but I am saying that if we didn’t allow sinners into church, the pews would be empty every Sunday morning. Christians will disappoint, they will let you down. I promise you that. But that’s why we all need Jesus!
I think a big reason the “Christian’s are all hypocrites” stigma came to be was because we are so quick to judge others. I heard someone once say, “Instead of lovingly bringing fellow believers back to the cross, we use the cross as a weapon.”
Sometimes it seems that Christians are the only army that shoots their own wounded.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3 (NIV)
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:42 (NIV)
We should be more worried about ourselves, more focused on fixing our own sinful tendencies instead of always looking down at others. When we put pressure on Christians to be perfect, we only leave room for disappointment. Our goal is Christ’s perfection, understanding that grace is necessary. When we mess up, we should guide one another back to the cross – not beat them over the head with it. Forgive. Forget. Move on. That’s what Jesus did.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)