Hello my name is Ebed-Melech and I am angry. You may think you know me but you don’t. I was a man who was known by few for my position but not by my given name. Ebed-Melech simply translates as ‘Slave of the King.’ I lived in the shadows within the palace of Zedekiah, king of Judah. If you were there we may have passed quietly in the halls and rooms without any discussion other than a casual nod acknowledging each other’s presence. Ethiopian by birth, slave by providence. The rest of the slaves in the palace along with those who rub shoulders with the king were privy to the events of the day. Jeremiah, the prophet of Jehovah, spoke truth, and was relegated to the cistern because of his unpopular message. I must admit the politics of my day were troubling, and the geo-political outlook for Judah was grim. King Zedekiah distained the messenger of God, and dismissed the message. Balancing the worship of Jehovah with the national patriotism of the day was difficult for us as it is for you in 2021. It is far easier to disregard the words of the prophet than make the deep spiritual alterations that would have sustained our national existence. Zedekiah was more concerned about the dangers of the great enemy, Babylon, and the survival of the nation than his devotion to Jehovah. Refusing to recalibrate his thinking, he dismissed the words of Jeremiah. In my anger, I spoke to the king what was right and I spoke with unapologetic passion. I didn’t know or care what the outcome would be. Despite popular opinion, right is supposed to be right for both kings and slaves. Proverbs 11:21a, “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished; but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.”
Now back to 2021…My name is not actually Ebed-Melech. I am a pastor, not the kind of a pastor that is noticed. My church is small. My congregation is made up of Believers who span the wide spectrum of life; young and old, laborers and professionals, young married couples and lonely widows, peripheral attendees along with devoted and faithful followers of Christ. I have over 30 years of ministerial experience as well as extended families that include other pastors such as myself. I’ve been to pastor conferences, but wasn’t the celebrity pastor. I was the normal looking guy standing in line in the bookstore buying books, or singing out of tune in the general sessions.
Unlike Ebed-Melech, pastors serve a far greater King than Zedekiah. We are assumed to have all the answers. We go through trials, but our trials are assumed to be easier for us than the average congregant. We are expected to live at a higher standard. We are supposed to be immune to trials and the pains of life. We live in a glass bowl, and are examined by all and criticized by many.
I have found myself becoming an angry pastor. I have spent months trying to identify the source of this anger so I can rightfully address it. Anger is destructive if unchecked. The world is full of stories of the horrid reality of people venting their sinful anger on each other in destructive ways. For this reason anger is wicked and must never be expressed. Right? Yet the Lord himself displayed this powerful emotion, yet without sin. Warfield stated, “The emotions of indignation and anger belong…to the very self-expression of a moral being as such and cannot be lacking to him in the presence of wrong.” If Christ were angry should not anger be a healthy outpouring of the emotions of God’s people? Mark Jones in his book Knowing Christ (Banner of Truth) strikingly stated, “Not expressing anger in the presence of injustice is not a sign of godliness, but rather of moral weakness.”
What is there for a pastor to be angry about? Plenty. We live in a world where every spectrum of life is polarized:
- racial extremism
- burning of our cities
- gender identity
- cultural relativism
- Covid-19 issues
It isn’t so much the specificities of issues but the havoc these issues have done within the body of Christ. We cannot escape our culture, but the pastor is to be responsible to help you navigate the intricacies of this world, in order to help you live a life that glorifies and honors Christ. We are not called to serve the King by simply affirming you in your opinions whether we agree with them or not. The sensitive and conscientious pastor knows he is navigating a body of Believers through a mine field of issues that destroy nations, families, individuals, and churches every week. I know most pastors work an hour a week, I work two because we have an evening service. But seriously, the world is ‘going to hell in a handbasket’ and I have a small amount of time to decide what I am going to do…jump on a cultural band wagon or equip slumbering souls through the difficulties of life.
I want to vent and need to vent. I may as well express my anger in a beneficial way. I would hope my thoughts help you to navigate life; to find the biblical North Star on the voyage of faith through the context of a biblical world-view. More than likely I will need to return and reread my own reflections. I tend to be a slow learner. I will not unnecessarily busy you by encumbering my thoughts with every proof-text to reinforce biblical truth. Lord willing, you know enough of Scripture to make the mental connections yourself. I want to encourage other pastors and wives of pastors who feel the same way. If you are NOT a pastor but have one, I hope that this blog encourages you to pray for your pastor specifically and understand his caring heart. I would hope that you would share this blog with others and that God uses this venue for the glory of God. If you don’t that is fine as well.
If by chance you need a name or an ecclesiastical identity and credentials to decide whether this blog is for you or not, I don’t know what to say. If you listen carefully, the discerning mind will figure that out in time. Let it suffice for now to call me Ebed-Melech, and know that I am angry.