The dumbest thing I ever did
In your entire life what is the dumbest thing that you ever did? Kind of scary and depressing to spend very much time touring our personal “Dumb Deeds” Museum, huh?Well, mine is an easy choice and I hope that hearing about my stumble will someday help you avoid a critical lapse of wisdom.It all began with one of my very best days ever. One of my Bible professors, Leonard Gray, asked me to come and work with the young people at a little church where he preached on the weekends. It was such an honor for one of my profs to choose me. So every Sunday morning I began driving over to Rocky Branch, Louisiana with Leonard. Everything couldn’t have gone better for about 3 months. That’s when everything began to unravel.The teens asked me if they could have a youth rally there in Rocky Branch. Nothing like that had ever been done at the church before. I told them that I thought that was a fabulous idea, but that I’d have to ask the elders for permission. So after church that day I spoke with both men, one at a time. The first elder said, “Mike, I think that sounds like a great idea.” The second elder said, “That sounds like a great idea to me.” Just as I started to walk away, thinking that I had everything that I needed, the second elder added in a whispering voice, “Now Mike because of how the people here in Rocky Branch feel, this youth rally can’t have any blacks come. We’re not prejudiced, but lots of people in this town are.” I wanted to argue with him about just how wrong that idea was, but I didn’t. After all he was the elder.I have replayed that situation in my mind thousands of times and every time I scream at myself, “Why didn’t you go talk to Leonard?” And I still don’t have an answer.Shari and I talked about what to do. We both believed that skin color was an irrelevant issue to God and that anyone who hated someone of a different skin color would surely spend eternity in hell. However we also wanted to help those teens at Rocky Branch. It looked like it was either cancel the plans for the youth rally or do what the elders said.Shari tried to talk me out of what I finally decided to do, but I didn’t listen. So I designed a flyer advertising our rally and made enough copies to send to about 25 of our sister churches in northern Louisiana. On each flyer there was a little box (with which I completely disagreed) which read: “Due to community sentiment, this youth rally will be restricted to whites only.” I put them in the mail on Monday morning.Do you know the biggest problem with tunnel vision? When we become so fixed on one thing, the rest of the world just ceases to exist. I was so obsessed with helping the teens in Rocky Branch that I didn’t see that I was actually supporting the evil of racial bigotry. And I certainly didn’t see the conclusions that everyone was going to reach concerning my personal views on race and skin color when they received those flyers. Pure motives don’t automatically protect us from the destruction of our own stupidity.I went to class on Thursday morning and discovered that no one was speaking to me. I was completely confused. (stupidity is so blind) Many of my fellow classmates were working at some of the area churches who had received the flyer and discussed it on Wednesday night. They assumed, understandably so, that I supported those words of bigotry. However, none of them were explaining why they were angry with me. So I was still confused. Then Leonard arrived at school and enlightened me with fire and brimstone. I deserved everything he said. He knew I wasn’t prejudiced, but never knew I could be this thoughtless and foolish. And on top of it all, I hadn’t sought his counsel. I apologized and apologized and apologized and then REPENTED! I thought that was the end of it. We straightened everything out at school and everyone had a big laugh at my thick-headedness.But the gigantic trouble was still ahead of me. A special men’s meeting was called for that Friday evening. When Leonard and I arrived in Rocky Branch the “spiritual lynch mob” was all prepared. For about an hour every man in the room chewed me up, barbequed me, ripped me asunder; however you want to describe it. And Leonard let everything go unchallenged. I knew he didn’t agree with what they were saying, but he was allowing me to reap what I had sown. Now that’s true Christian love. He loved me enough to let me learn something that I would never forget. At the end of the hour one of the elders stood up and said, “So let’s vote on firing Mike as our youth minister.”That’s when Leonard stood up and asked, “So before we do that may I ask a question? Did Mike put anything in that flyer that he wasn’t told by one of you elders? Did he make up a lie concerning both of you? Just answer me that.” Everything was graveyard silent. Then one of the elders said, “Well, that’s what I told him, but I didn’t think he would be stupid enough to put it in a publication and scatter it all over the region.” Leonard then replied, “So what you’re firing him over is putting your convictions into print, right? You’re livid with him because he did exactly what you told him to do, right?” Again you could cut the silence with a knife.Leonard concluded, “Now I’m not suggesting that what Mike did wasn’t an act of stupidity, but he did it with a good heart because he loves your teens so much that he wasn’t thinking about anything but them. So if he just put into print exactly what you told him, then if you fire him, I QUIT! Now if he lied and misrepresented what you said, then I’ll make the motion myself to fire him.” That ended the meeting. I remained the youth minister, but with nothing but troubles after that. We didn’t have the youth rally.I caused a monstrous mess and had no one to blame besides myself. God did use my blunder to make some of the Christians there speak out against racial bigotry. The quiet, peaceful little church wasn’t the same the rest of the time I was there. It turned out (surprise) that there were more than a few bigots right in the middle of the church; some deacons and some elders. Some repented and saw the light; some didn’t.So why did I share this mess with you? I hope you can learn from my blunder.1- Always seek counsel when something might be troublesome.2- No molehill is ever worth violating a mountain.3- God doesn’t approve of our blunders, but He will even use tour mistakes to do something wonderful for Him and His Kingdom.4- Sometimes believers need to love one another enough to allow us to reap as we have sown.5- A good motive does not guarantee that our actions will always be approved by God.6- Don’t allow past mistakes to destroy your life, but don’t ever let them escape your memory either. Remembering your monumental blunders just may help you avoid falling into those same holes again.7- God is always gracious and merciful to His faithful children; even when He would like to pinch their head off.8- Listen to your wife! God gave her to you to save your life when you’re being stupid.Mike Sublett is a pastor at Hi-Land Christian Church, 1615 N. Banks St., Pampa, Texas 79065. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.