Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

It's Not About Me. . .

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 31 August 2008

This week's Cafe' Chat meme (http://www.internetcafedevotions.com) is:

The catchphrase “It’s not about me” has become quite popular in our current world today. What does that phrase mean to you in your personal life? Explain.

For Christians, this phrase will take on different meaning at almost every turn of one's spiritual walk. As a Christian in ministry, this phrase has taken on a definite and distinct implication for me over the past few years.

Those in ministry (and those who follow and support those in ministry) know that Satan has over and over again used well-meaning church members to tear down God’s Church. Whenever and wherever God is at serious work changing lives, Satan gets nervous and takes his crack at destroying the work. III John 9-11 gives the account of one such individual in the New Testament church named Diotrephes:

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

When those of us in ministry come under attack, the assault becomes -- to a certain extent -- very personal. When an individual in our church (we'll allow her to remain anonymous) sent my husband a e-mail last Spring letting us know that she did not think we were even saved, we took it personally. When my face was scribbled out of our family’s church directory photo and stuffed it in the prayer-request box, we took it personally.

The attacks and assaults previous to this and following were many. They all came from a very small group of troubled and frustrated women who have long been a problem in the church. The attacks were personal. And they continue to the present. Many people have encouraged us to file criminal charges against one particular individual whose identity is known. Law enforcement has defined the actions as “harassing” and “criminal.” To date, we have not filed charges.

You could say – with complete accuracy -- that we were not at peace about the situation.

Isaiah 26:3 says: You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

So. . . was my mind on Him? Probably not. Was I making the situation all "about me?" Probably yes. John MacArthur illuminates this verse about perfect peace in a way that really got me thinking: “A fixed disposition of trust in the Lord brings a peace that that the wicked can never know. Such reliance precludes double mindedness and serving two masters.

Isaiah 48:22 says, “There is no peace," says the LORD, "for the wicked."
The idea is repeated in Isaiah 57:21: "There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked."

James 1:6-8 says, “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."

Matthew 6:24: "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other."

WOW! By refusing to feel peace about the situation and allowing myself to forsake the stillness and serenity of fully trusting in God, was I bordering on “wicked?” Was my reaction to these women -- our Diotrophes' -- and thier immature, wayward and hateful behavior just as imperfect and appalling to God? Was I making it all "about me?"

In two words: Yes. Absolutely!

We all know people who are not “at peace.” We probably don’t use that terminology in describing them. We more likely refer to them as troubled, distressed, anxious, unsettled, etc. Scripture is neither this benign nor benevolent in its description of those who are not “at peace.”

“A fixed disposition of trust in the Lord brings a peace that that the wicked can never know.”

Bottom line: God's Word tells us that if we are not a peace, we are wicked. We are allowing the Wicked-One to rule our thinking, our attitude, and our reaction to circumstances.

Several days ago,
I happened to run into one of the individuals who attacked my husband and whose malicious gossip has and will continue to have widespread effects on his ministry and the church’s reputation -- one of our Diotrephes'. To my surprise, I was not bitter when I caught sight of her.

On the other hand, she was obviously taken back at my presence. She made a swift and rushed exit in such haste that it created a slight spectacle in the convenience store. Strangers surrounding us gave puzzled glances, glimpsing at me and then back at her. She did give me a fleeting look and muttered something, but she was unmistakably anxious and uneasy. She was obviously not at peace. It was at that moment, I realized that the personal attacks on my husband, me, our ministry, and the church were no longer “about me.”

As someone in ministry, the phrase "It's not about me" suddenly took on definite and distinct implication and I was taken back to my own personal testimony and call to ministry.

My passion, my calling, my burden, my ministry is and has been for many years . . . women: Christian women and women church-members alike (the two are NOT always mutually exclusive) need a better understanding of God's plan for them. They need to be grounded in God’s Word – to fully understand their place and their role in family, society and church life in terms of what God says. His Word is very clear on the issue. This has become all too important in a time in church history when the "new evangelical" movement has seriously side-stepped God’s Word as the absolute final authority on all things.

How, as a Christian -- and a Christian in ministry with a burden for women! -- could I possibly make Satan's attacks (via troubled women) about ME?

"It's not about me!" It's about God's church. It's about fulfilling our calling to bring people to the Cross of Christ. It's about allowing people to see themselves in the light of God's Word. If this causes Satan to become flustered and attack, we should know we've done our job. And done it well!

"It's not about me."
It's about praying for the Diotrephes' in our ministry -- praying that they will see themselves in the light of God's Word -- that they will come to the Cross of Christ -- that they will see their wicked ways -- and that they will find Perfect Peace.

- Esthermay Bentley-Goossen


Laurie Ann said...

Satan definitely undermines God's work in our lives. I will be praying for your situation and I love that you pointed out what it's really about.

Denise said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

The same women have been making messes and undermining leadership in that church for years. Everyone knows who they are. After thier exodus last year from the board they are a quiet but just as ugly You and Pastor Mark are wonderful! You risen above them. God bless you and your family. I love your blog.

sharon said...

Esthermay, thanks for the visit to my blog. i can identify with where you are now, my family went through so much...but my dad told me once that if in my walk with God, I did not come face to face with the devil then I needed to check in case I was walking arm in arm with him. I guess you definitely aren't walking arm in arm... The Lord sees your heart and your passion comes across. I'll be praying for you and yours. God bless.

Betsy J. said...

Esthermay, we are miles from Crane Chapel but know the strife you have faced over the last years because we know the players. Satan has sown weeds among the wheat. The young woman demadning the office clearly demonstrates immaturity self-first and disrespect. She needs mentoring and teaching. God will rise up mature people to lead the church. we are praying. The Lord does see your heart and knows your passion. you and your husband are deeply loved and respected by many.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrea said...

I appreciate your boldness to state truth. "Though he is really the prince of darkness, Satan successfully presents himself as an angel of light" A lot of churches have very active members in leadership who fit the bill. Thus church problems and splits. we have a similar battle with our youth leader right now, so BTDT!
Great piece !

Barbara said...

Ministry wives go through a greater spiritual maturing than those on the pew will ever now. When they frown upon us, we have to remember that "it's not about me." Nicely written

Mark and Esthermay Bentley-Goossen said...

Thank you, Andrea & Barbara for your supportive comments. And thank you for your new account so as to not leave the foreboding "Anonymous" comment. (Never know quite what to do with those.)
Kindest Thoughts,

Amy Guerino said...

As a fellow ministry wife my heart aches for you today and I will take you to the Throne Room!

May you continue to find that place of peace in the midst of such storms. God gets the glory and you are shining for Him.

Darlene said...

Thank you for the awesome comment. You have blog personality--girl! :) I love it.


Barbara said...

Danke vielmals! the link to the message board was what I was looking for. btw did the youth leader and family ever appologize?

You are God's chosen You will receive great rewards. Thank you for sharing your incredible gift of discernment and writing. Did I mention you are my blogging hero?

Anonymous said...

It appears that other readers of your blog know about 'youth leader.' It appears she has resigned. God does work!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Esthermay Bentley-Goossen said...

J: Had to delete your comment as it contained a proper noun. Answer: Yes. No. No. Check your site stats. IBI in Browsdale (IP 12.30.67… Lat/Long: 43.7421, -92.8496). She does not out-click to you – just in and out from DH’s blog to read my “Comments.”

Robin said...

I am a pastor's wife presently in a very simular situation. Here it's the same, a small group of older women who get great delight in undermining authority and causing division. Things have come to a boiling point recently and I have found myself becoming angery and very bitter to the point of wanting to give up. Just going to church causes me pain. I know that satan is hard at work. But knowing it with my head and understanding it in my heart are two different things. I know what the Bible says...my husband keeps reminding me of it, but to hear another pastor's wife experience and advise have helped. Thank you and please pray for me, that I can begin to forgive and to love them despite of their behavior....not only for myself but also for those who are watching and will learn from me.

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