for they know not

for they know not May 31, 2012

Most church leaders are sincere and have no malicious intent to hurt people. They are ordinary, good and sincere people who desire to serve their churches well. I love the church and I love those who try to serve the people who compose it.

The problem is the power of systemic forces. In every hurtful situation I’ve experienced in the church, even the severest, I believe that the perpetrators of harm meant well. But they were so overwhelmed by the needs of the system they were serving that they were blind to their actions and their effects.

This is why I can honestly say I totally understand why they did what they did. I can see things from their perspective. I understand not only because I have served the system and hurt people, but also because I’ve studied and endeavoured to discern the spirits of systemic power. The human perpetrators are guilty of hurting others. But I forgive them because they didn’t realize what they were doing. Even if they did know, I forgive them anyway. Why hold on to that garbage?

I am convinced that it is possible to be a pastor and a community free of systemic evil. I am persuaded that it is completely possible and even necessary that people can conjoin without a trace of abuse, coercion or manipulation, and that people can care for one another’s spiritual needs without even a hint of power and authority.

This is still my passion and still my life goal. This is the kind of pastor I endeavour to be and the kind of community I believe exists, if only we will allow it to be made manifest among us.

Read my book that deals with this topic in depth, Without A Vision My People Prosper.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Julia

    I believe it because I’ve seen it.

  • Jim

    Well said David. Here’s to communities like you describe popping up everywhere.


  • David, how do you think this relates to the community Jesus created around him? Maybe a subject for another thought..

  • Hey Dan,

    I think you are absolutely spot on. So many of the things that ostracized me out of the church I grew up in… So many of them were not malicious. And many times, I get why they did what they did (sort of). That’s not my problem.

    The problem is that they DID hurt me and my family. It took me so long to be okay with feeling hurt and grieving and processing the issues because I just thought “Well, they didn’t mean to hurt me, so why should I feel hurt?”

    I think it can be an unhealthy story to tell yourself. So, yes, it’s important to recognize that the people who hurt you did not mean to. It’s important to learn forgiveness. But for me, it was also important to remember the phrase “The path to hell is paved with good intentions”. I don’t mean it so literally as much as “Just because you have good intentions does not make you immune to hurting others.”

    So, part of the lesson for me here has been learning how to be okay with my heart and my pain. And sometimes, they don’t even know they hurt me! So I also have learned confrontation (to a point, when appropriate).

    Thank you for this. I think it’s an important thing to remember. I still cannot get over how gut-wrenching and poignant your stuff is day after day. Such important messages! Thank you!

  • thanks so much deanna. i appreciate your thoughtful comment. you’ve travelled an interesting path. and thanks for your encouragement.