A friend of mine, Mark, was doing street ministry recently. He had an experience of being offended by one of the members of the ministry team. I wanted to share this because very often we have these moments come up in our daily life – we can become offended by others even in the midst of ministry or family life. Here is his story:
Ben and I were out doing street ministry a few weeks ago. Throughout the day, I felt as though he was treating me like a beginner There wasn’t an opportunity to share with him about my previous experiences or that I had value to offer in doing street ministry, prayer and healing. I felt he didn’t recognise who I was. I felt offended. He said things like, “We’re always afraid when we first go out.”
But I thought, “No, I’m not actually afraid. Why don’t you just say you’re afraid? Why are you putting that on me?”
I did not voice my thoughts. I felt like I could not, as it would be impolite. The irony in this was that this inability to say something was because of fear of man and being accepted. At that same time, it was like timidity entered me and the confidence and excitement I had about going out seemed to be overtaken. From that point on there wasn’t unity between Ben and I. I felt frustrated. And I felt trapped, like I didn’t have a way fix it. Even though this particular day there was only Ben and I, I felt like I couldn’t address anything. Throughout the street ministry time there wasn’t unity. Our approaches differed. I Wanted to take time with people, he wanted to move on quickly and always walked a few steps in front of me. I felt like I didn’t have an opening to share or pray for people in a way I would have liked, nor in a way which added the unique and loving way I could contribute. I didn’t feel honoured, or recognised. I also knew he wasn’t doing this deliberately against me.
I found myself with bitterness and pride in my heart. I could see I didn’t love my brother and it was affecting my ability to want to engage with him. It also brought disunity, which killed the joy, freedom and power of the Spirit. When you leave this kind of thing inside, it breeds jealousy and other dark feelings. I knew I needed to sort it out. I just didn’t know how.
Ben and I do not go to the same church, and until this point only met and saw each other at street ministry. A week later it was street ministry time again. My heart was in a worse place than before, but as everyone else could make it this week, there was ample other people to pair with.
Upon finishing our time, I dropped the ministry team off at his house where we had all parked and we left. I sat in my car for a little while, thinking I need to sort this, wrestling with my expectations, thinking it would be weird if I just went and told him.
I drove off. Then pulled over and wrestled with the Holy Spirit. I knew I had to settle the matter, go to God and confess it. This went on for about half an hour!
I said to the Holy Spirit, “No this is weird. Why do you always ask me to do weird things?!” Then I tried to find a middle ground with God, saying, ”Can’t I just send him a message?” I felt him tell me to go and confess it – talk to him.
I still sent a text message. I knew the words were good and it was an act of kindness.
“Hey Dude, You’re awesome! So good to have you following Jesus and leading by example! It’s cool what the Lord is doing in you. Love Mark.” (And that’s weird to say, ‘Love Mark’, because guys don’t really do that…but because of LoveWorks, that’s becoming more and more normal).
When I sent the text message, it started to change something inside me because my focus had changed. But it was not full obedience to God’s direction.
I asked myself, “Mark, why are you not going?” I realised it was my own fears of what he’d think if I became vulnerable to him, but more than that, I didn’t want to be humble. I had to set aside my pride. I just knew I was being a chicken. I didn’t want to have to go, cause it’s weird to knock on the door and bear my soul to another guy – especially one I don’t know very well. I was not looking forward to the uncertainty and vulnerability.
In that moment, I let God be the Lord of my expectations. Love changes things. He reminded me that I love spontaneous things and that I was not a man of fear. So, I drove back to his house and knocked on the door.
“Hey, I just wanted to let you know that the work you are doing is awesome. And the work that God is doing in you is just amazing. I just had to let you know that.”
He invited me in and we shared a meal together. We had a really good conversation and shared our hearts. I could see the value in him. I could see the work of God in him – a man with a good heart.
Ben wanted me to pray for him. He was humble. I realised my offense was unfounded. I felt recognized by him. I felt that I had value.
While we prayed, the Lord gave me a picture for him. It was Ben with his arms open wide and me referring people to him. This picture created more honour in my heart for him.
After we prayed, I said, “Look can you forgive me. I’ve been feeling offended. The Holy Spirit wanted me to tell you this and bless your ministry and kill pride and offense in me.”
Then he asked what he’d done. I told him, “I became offended at some of the things that you said and that offense separated my heart from you. Can you forgive me?” He asked for more clarification and said he couldn’t remember exactly what he said, but there was no intention to offend, and don’t worry about it. Soon afterwards I left. The whole interaction with him, and the image God gave to me for him, has changed the way I see him. I’m now excited. It gives me energy for him.
This is a powerful story of how Love, in the form of Believes All Things, empowered Mark to humble himself, confess his offense, and then speak words of Belief to Ben. This transformed everything! Beginning with Mark’s heart.