(I know that title seems mean-spirited, but I hope it makes more sense after reading my post.)
Recently, DH was relating to the staff some of the details from the fall of Ted Haggard into immorality. It rocked the world of an associate pastor who was on staff with DH. John* came into the office the next morning, and without any form of perfunctory greeting, he asked: "Well, who's next? Me, or you?" DH was so taken aback that he couldn't find his voice. After a moment, he sputtered, "Neither! It doesn't have to be either one of us, John, by the grace of God!"
We had the paradoxical privilege of being honored for "Pastor Appreciation" on the same day that Pastor Ted Haggard was being dishonored and defrocked. It was a very emotional weekend, and many were reeling worldwide from the scandal at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. The higher the pedestal, the harder the fall.
Unfortunately, the ripple effect or aftershock of such a hard fall is felt by many pastors far and away. The devil likes to taunt them: he whispers words that cause fears, doubts, and worries to escalate. "What if I fall?" He tears marriages apart, one thread at a time, ripping away at years of trusted foundations, by whispering to the pastor's wife, "What if he falls?" "What if he's hiding something? What if everyone else knows, but me?"
Sitting in the church service on the morning of November 5th, I knew that many people had questions in their minds about how we were handling this scandal. Perhaps the devil was even tempting them to wonder if we would be "next" to fall. Appropriately, DH's sermon was on the "Battle for the Mind" and he cautioned about allowing such thoughts to formulate. In his series on the armor of God (Eph. 6) He used the illustration of how the helmet was the last article to put on, but the most important one to wear to war. He said that soldiers would often carry battle-axes to swing in hopes of knocking off the opponent's head. Somehow, he got his words mixed up in the point of his illustration, and he ended up putting his huge foot into his big mouth. (It's really quite a feat, but he seems to have the knack for it.) This time, his blunder was putting me in a bad light, somehow implying that I was an "old battle-axe". So I could feel the eyes of many in the audience, wondering how I would react to such an insult.
The idea that I should speak to the congregation had been birthed sometime in the wee hours of the morning; and kept growing with stronger conviction throughout the service. I hate public speaking, and especially extemporaneous speeches! I struggled with the sense of conviction that God wanted me to say something, arguing that it would be much smoother if He would only give me a week to write it all out! By the end of the service, though, I could hardly stand the thumping in my chest, and I gave in to the Holy Spirit's prompting, just so I could breathe.
Here is the transcript from our podcast: with all of the glaring grammatical errors.
I trust that the message was received with forgiveness for my emotional state.
"I am by nature a very shy person and I hate to be up in front of people but I feel very compelled this morning. Would you pray for me as I speak that I would be used of God and say the right words? I want--on this day of Pastor Appreciation--to express my profound and deep appreciation for my husband, my pastor. I love him, and more than LOVE, I deeply admire and respect him. And I am so thankful that I can say that today, especially in light of all of this situation going on with Ted Haggard. But, what I want to share with you, is yes, there are vast differences between our Pastor and Pastor Ted. But really there’s only two things that separate them, and one is humbleness: his humbleness, and the other is the grace of God; but for the grace of God, he too could fall. And in Ted’s statement that was read this morning to the congregation, he said his own pride kept him from going for help; he did try at first, but then his own pride kept him, and started him down the path of deception to his own family and his own congregation. And I am so thankful: even his name means “little or humble” and I am so thankful for the gift of humility that God gives to him. Now does he always operate in that humbleness? NO! And, does he have faults? YES! I believe he called me a “battle-axe” this morning. Ha Ha Ha! That was an example of an illustration gone very awry. But I love him in spite of his faults, and I appreciate him because I can deeply respect him for the man of God that he is, That he is as authentic behind the pulpit as he is in front of us: his family and his children. So thank you, … my Pastor!"
(* John is a pseudonym)