I remember several significant decision moments that occurred early in my ministry. These decision moments were defining. These decisions turned out to be very important in the formative years of my ministry.
I remember the day that I had to make a decision next to Bill’s white Cadillac.
I was preaching for a little church in middle Tennessee. We were about an hour south of Nashville. This church met in a storefront. The building was actually a former convenience store. We were on a main highway leading into town. Across the street was "the big round bank."
One of our members was "Bill." Bill was in his 60s. He had divorced his wife a few years back. Anyway, he was a part of our small church. This little group of 65 or 70 people was barely getting by financially. It helped that Bill was a successful businessman, affluent, and that he put a sizable check in the offering each week.
One Sunday, I walked outside after the morning assembly. Bill was sitting in his white Cadillac, smoking a big cigar. He looked at me and did not look happy. He motioned for me to come to his car. I walked over to the driver’s side of his car and the electric window came down. He took the cigar out of his mouth and said, "Let’s don’t mention the _______ anymore." (The blank? A derogatory slang word for anyone who was black. Not the "n" word but nevertheless an ugly term.)
He was referring to the sermon that morning. I don’t remember the subject or the text. I remember the essence of what I said. That morning, I said something like, "Scripture calls for us to love people, regardless of race or ethnic groups. That includes everyone!" So, standing by his car I had to make a decision. How will I respond to this man? How will I respond to what I consider a racist attitude? How will I respond to his effort to intimidate? How will I respond to an inward fear that he might withhold his check or even leave?
At that moment, God gave me the strength to say, "Bill, I am going to have to say what I think the Bible teaches."
I then walked away from his car feeling sick. Sick as I thought about what he said. Sick as I thought about his effort to intimidate. Yet, I also walked away knowing that in that moment, I had done the right thing.
That was twenty-seven years ago. Yet, it almost seems like yesterday. That decision was a critical moment. It was in that decision that something was etched on my heart reminding me of who I am. That day has also been a reminder to me that the one I am called to please is the Lord Jesus — regardless.
Can you look back and see decisions you’ve made that turned out to be critical in your formation as a Christ-follower?