Friday, September 3, 2010

The Wounded make Good Warnings

We've all seen it on screen. Some may have even witnessed it first hand. Somehow the group of soldiers suspects a minefield is ahead, and express a collective hesitance and caution. Nevertheless, one among them (sometimes it's the "gung ho" leader) steps out boldly, showing no fear.

What follows is a flash of light...
the ear-splitting sound of the explosion...
the aerosol musk of vaporized flesh and blood...
the unnatural screaming...
and the mangled remains of a formerly proud comrade splayed out on the ground.

Some rush to aid the wounded soldier (if he's still alive). Some click their tongues and say, "We told you to watch out for mines." All see it as confirmation of the dangers that abound. Regardless of whether the wounded man survives, the enemy has effectively taken him out. If he survives, he will no longer be part of the mission. He'll be whisked away for emergency medical attention. Hopefully, he'll adapt well to civilian life, but he won't be back to the mission he was so committed to. Some wounds don't heal. Legs don't grow back. No prosthetic yet invented can reinstate a soldier whose body was shattered by a careless moment.

I am speaking, of course, regarding leaders in The Church.

The story is far, far too frequent. He knows the dangers. He's heard the warnings over and over again. He may have even witnessed a comrade "step on a mine" before, and the horrific carnage that ensued in the man's professional and personal life. Nevertheless, in a moment of dropping his guard down, off he trots out into a suspicious "field" without regard for the warning signs.

BOOM!!!!!

...and in a flash his career as a minister is over. The respect of his peers is vaporized. The trust of his wife and children is gone. His influence in the community vanishes. His credentials are empty. His degrees meaningless. His income cut off. His purpose jettisoned (for the foreseeable future). Those that loved him aren't certain whether to pity him for his weakness or hate him for his betrayal. They'll feel both strongly for quite a while. If he's a repentant Christian, just about the only thing you can say is going for him is that he'll go to Heaven when he dies.

Such is the plight of the Christian minister that succumbs to moral failure while leading in the Church - especially if that "failure" involves infidelity to his wife. The loyalty of the minister to his spouse is a picture of the loyalty of Christ to HIS "Bride" (The Church). If he punts his loyalty to her for a few moments of deceitful ecstasy, people who discover it understandably wonder how faithful they can expect God to be to them. "After all," they reason to themselves, "Where was God here? How could he let this happen?" Some may have their faith considerably shaken by the revelation that their minister has betrayed his spouse and them. The spiritually resilient, at best, will emerge from their pain with a new perspective on how much more faithful God is than man.

As for that once confident "soldier" that now has to adapt to civilian life... Hopefully the once effective minister will be able to make an adequate living selling used cars somewhere in the panhandle. As a Christian, he needs to humbly integrate into a new church somewhere far away, and take private satisfaction in being given the honor of cleaning the bathrooms. All sins are forgivable, but not all sins are reversible. When he submits to a new leader (that also knows his background), forgiveness will take the form of his opportunity to come to the rail, commune with Christ and His body, serving humbly when and where he is directed; but no more leading the charge. After having “blown himself apart” with careless presumption, he should not seek to lead anyone anywhere - and none should follow him.

I've now seen this scenario play out a couple of times with men that I have known. Hopefully, their wounds make for good warnings to me. Far from being the most exemplary "soldier," I've veered too close to the minefield before - spared by a caring buddy that yanked me back and shouted, "What the F@#% is the matter with you?! You wanna blown your legs off?! Pay attention, A**HOLE!!!" How embarrassing to know that among the two possible modes (1. vigilant and 2. careless), I've been one before because I wasn't being the other.

Nevertheless, the wounded make good warnings - for me and for all men.

BOOM!!!! There's goes our buddy. The guys trained in first aid try to help... But there's no getting around it - he's out of the game. We'll keep patrolling our area, watching our corners, knowing that HQ will send another one at some point - but he's done. Hope it works out for him "stateside." We'll remember him for a while... that is until be build new memories with the next leader we get. Everybody's on their guard now. We all walk lightly. Tex tells me that Mac can "smell" a minefield. He's got "point" tonight. We pay attention to him... close attention to him. The wounded make good warnings. Maybe that's a way to look at it. Sucks that Lt. Smith lost both legs like that, but maybe eight or nine of us won't lose ours because we saw it happen.

1 comment:

Amber said...

wow.... ok I get it now.... :( I'm sorry to hear it Aaron.