Integrity in Ministry and Life

Wednesday is for Prayer

Recently, I heard of a man whose ministry was being undercut by unwarranted rumor and innuendo. The guilty parties never went to him. They never loved him enough to talk to him as a brother.  But they were more than willing to voice their opposition to his ministry and question his character to anyone they could get to listen. My friends response?

“God is the glory and the lifter of my head (Psalm 3:3), my reputation is his business. I don’t have time to worry about what people think about me. Too many people need to hear the gospel.”

“What will you do?” I asked.

“Well, now that I know about it –, I’ll start with prayer and when I have time, give my friend a call and ask them how they think I have failed the cause of Christ. Sometimes, you can learn something even from your most unfair critics.”  The following article from Kairos Journal reminded me of my friend. After you have read it, would you pray for him? (Update: My friend is recovering from the betrayal of his friends but he could still use your prayers.)

Wouldn’t Be Honest

The young television newscaster was dashed when he discovered that the camera had malfunctioned in the freezing cold. Here was his golden opportunity to make a name for himself; CBS news was waiting for the footage, which was to be broadcast around the nation. Scrambling to recover, the journalist asked the preacher they had been filming to repeat his spontaneous prayer, but he refused, saying, “Wouldn’t be honest.”

In 1962, long-time television talk-show host Phil Donahue was a junior reporter, only five years out of Notre Dame University. Working for WHIO-TV in Dayton, Ohio, he was assigned to cover the gripping story of 36 men trapped in a West Virginia coal mine. This meant a rough, three-day vigil in the mountain chill, but Donahue’s heart soared, when a made-for-TV moment unfolded before his eyes. A local preacher in his thirties called an impromptu prayer meeting around a burn-barrel where rescuers had huddled to keep warm.

He began with “Dear God, we ask . . . at this troubled time . . .” and continued with the words of a hymn, which Donahue had never heard:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and grief to bear,
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.

After the men had sung this hymn, the minister closed with “Bless us, Lord, hold us in your arms.”

It was perfect, just the sort of thing that would stir households across the land. But then realizing that they had missed the shot, they repaired the camera hurriedly and asked the minister to repeat the prayer. “But I have already prayed, son.” Donahue persisted, “Reverend, I am from CEE BEE ESS NEWS.”

“Wouldn’t be honest,” the preacher replied.

Donahue pressed him, explaining that the prayer would go out to more than 200 affiliates and millions of viewers. But the preacher walked away, saying, “Wouldn’t be right.” Livid, Donahue called his editor, blurting out the story of the [expletive deleted] who would not cooperate with the mighty television network.

Later, when he had calmed down, Donahue realized that the preacher had shown great “moral courage” in refusing to offer a “phony prayer, a “take two” for Jesus.1 And so the minister’s example is a reminder to all who seek to offer testimony and counsel to a wide audience through the media: “There is no substitute for integrity.” And to those who never saw a camera they did not like, they should note the example of this humble servant who walked away from a camera, and fame, lest he compromise the holiness of his ministry.

Footnote:
1 All quotes are taken from James P. Moore, Jr., One Nation under God: The History of Prayer in America (New York: Doubleday, 2005), 364-365.

  • May God build in you and me the integrity that world needs.
  • May our desire to live a live of integrity eclipse our desire for fame.
  • May we always show the grace of my friend under pressure.

[Re-edited and posted from the archives of my previous blog]


2 thoughts on “Integrity in Ministry and Life

  1. Your friend is a humble man, Marty. I don’t know what it is with the church, but people are often very free with their opinions but freak out at the prospect of actually giving face to face feedback. It seems like the culture in a lot of our churches is to complain to each other and not communicate directly and then when it gets bad, to take off for another church. What kinds of things have you seen done to create a healthy culture of gracious reconciliation?

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    1. Hey Mike, Sorry to take so long in responding to your question. Got lost in the business of ministry I guess. “What kinds of things have you seen done to create a healthy culture of gracious reconciliation?”
      Great question: Here’s a start.

      1. Be ruthless in rooting out your own pride. Recognize that it is a relentless battle. Everyday, every hour, in every situation, the evil one knows that our heart’s desire is to exalt ourselves, to show our importance, to prove our value. John the baptist pointed the way, “He must increase, I must decrease.” To do that, we need to declare all out war on our pride.

      2. Listen to our accusers. Even our most unfair and bitter opponents can have an insight into something offensive in our lives. Fight getting defensive. Take what they say to God in prayer and ask him to show you if there is any truth to what has been said. Take what they said to a trusted friend; tell them (without poisoning the well with information about the source) and ask if they have ever thought similar thoughts or made similar observations about you related to the issues. If yes, repent, and then go to your accuser and thank them and tell them your whole process, seeking reconciliation.

      3. Cultivate the exaltation of others. A good study to do is to read the Epistles of Paul and observe in detail how he introduces various disciples to other disciples. Begin to practice his example.
      4. /// ??????

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