It’s a genetic thing.
Being raised by my parents, one tends to take on certain attributes and behaviors from them, and this one I can squarely put on my Dad, whom I love very much. He is one of the most honest and forthright people I know. He, like me, is also a pastor, and being a born-and-bred truth-teller, this can be quite an asset. It can also be a bit of a problem, a problem well documented in the scriptures.
See, when you are called to be a prophet, you’re called to tell the truth, and speak it to those both powerless and powerful. Sometimes, it gets you into hot water. My Dad and I, we often forget that. We have been given this prophetic spirit, but at the same time, we forget that being a prophet isn’t always convenient, or conducive to one’s health.
Paul notes this fairly specifically in his words to his student Timothy. He writes:
I’m giving you this commission in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is coming to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearance and his kingdom. 2 Preach the word. Be ready to do it whether it is convenient or inconvenient. Correct, confront, and encourage with patience and instruction.3 There will come a time when people will not tolerate sound teaching. They will collect teachers who say what they want to hear because they are self-centered. 4 They will turn their back on the truth and turn to myths. (2 Timothy 4:1-4)
Gee, thanks Paul. Perhaps I should have read 2 Timothy a little bit more before I got into the business of being a pastor.
Not that it would have mattered.
See, I’ve heard this a lot. This is a fairly often quoted part of Paul’s work, either directly or indirectly. On the face of it, it’s supposed to be an encouragement–it’s not your fault if people don’t listen, that’s just what people do! It’s not your fault that people don’t like the truth!
It’s a lot different reading it on the page and practicing it, especially when the people who don’t like the truth are people within the church.
Nonetheless, Paul ends this admonition with this:
But you must keep control of yourself in all circumstances. Endure suffering, do the work of a preacher of the good news, and carry out your service fully. (2 Timothy 4:5)
Keep control. Endure. Carry out the work.
Tell the truth anyways, even if it hurts you in the process, even if it’s inconvenient. As rough as it is, I need to hear these words just to keep me going. It won’t always be that bad, but never let go of the fact that the truth needs to be heard no matter what. People need to be made aware of what’s right, even if they don’t want to hear it.
I guess I just need to not expect to be rewarded for doing it. So do we all.