I was not too happy with what I had read in my book late that night. To have to come face to face with the truth that God, knowing the weakness and faults in the person He chose to put over us, still chose that person to be in authority over us.
I think there has to be a fine line between the "submit to all authority no matter what" which historically has caused much harm in missions and "fight against any authority that does not put your best interests at heart" which would cause chaos and divisions.
That balance. It is a tough one - one I think we can only find well as we walk closely with God and lay these situations in front of Him. I still think some of the things done by my leadership over the last years, and especially during two crisis that we went through, were wrong - very wrong. I am aware of other situations where this leadership has made other decisions that were wrong that hurt other people. It is difficult at times. There have been times we have had to say, "No. That is not good and we will not do that." There have been times when we have had to face someone in authority and say, "How you acted in that situation was not right, and you should have considered these factors..." We have had to speak to those in authority over the ones in charge of us. These are all appropriate things to do - carefully. Very carefully. They have to be done from the right heart and in the right way - first speaking to the individual, and then to others above him - quietly, without gossip.
So, no, I do not believe in blind authority that will allow abuses.
But I also do not believe that every fight against authority is just.
There are some questions to ask:
1. Is this important? Is it going to make a difference in the long run? Is it just something that I could be inconvenienced with today, or is it a long-term issue that I need to address?
2. Is it just about me? We have an exaggerated defense system when it is all about us. Or is it an issue if not corrected that will adversely affect others?
3. Is my attitude right? This is a big one, and the one I think we don't always stop to be honest about before we confront people.
There are times to stand up and say, "no". There are times, too, I believe when someone else should be standing up and saying no in our behalf. If we have those people in our lives who can do that, we are blessed.
But back to the truth in the book - that God chose to put this faulty person in charge over us. It is actually comforting to me to read that throughout the history of missions, people have struggled with this problem. It is not unique to me. So, I can assume that God does know what He is doing and is capable of seeing us through it.
(However, that may not prevent me from dancing a happy dance if one person ever gets transferred.)
But until then, my job is to keep my heart right before God in relating to this imperfect person He has chosen to be over me. sigh....
Because I struggle most on the third question - "Is your heart right?" I get angry. What was done was wrong. Some of it was a very personal attack on me. It hurt. It still does. Thankfully, over the last year, the ones who were on the receiving end of the lies about me have gotten to know me much better and have realized that it was at the least, a very inaccurate view of who I am. But it still hurts.
It hurt that when I was hurting, I was thrown to the sharks. That was very painful.
I made a crucial mistake that day. I confronted this man with his mistakes and wrongs there in front of the group publicly. I shouldn't have. The confronting needed to be done, but how and where was wrong. That led to a huge uproar and a lot of pain.
What is my responsibility? Not his actions. Not his response. Not even his learning process.
My responsibility was to speak the truth (should have done it in more love!), but to clearly speak the truth. I think to not speak would leave others open to hurt, and my very firm insistence on the truth being heard did protect another friend when she went through something similar, and for that very fact, I am thankful that I did it - even if it was painful.
My responsibility is to speak the truth and to keep my heart right and to continue to honor those GOD has placed in authority over me.
I saw that that evening when I was reading my book.
I would have been just fine then, if one annoying friend had not asked me the awful question, "So when are you going to apologize?"