The Guy I Tried to Kick Out of My Church

The Guy I Tried to Kick Out of My Church

When I was an associate pastor there was a guy that I really wanted to kick out of our church. (Yes, I was basically a horrible pastor, but hear me out.)

When this guy wasn’t standing out front smoking and complaining about the weather to the people entering the church on Sunday, he was cornering people in the foyer complaining about everything – including the church. He was a grumpy, rude guy.

I actually brought up asking him to leave the church at a staff meeting, but it didn’t fly. So I had to instruct the greeters at the front to keep him out of the foyer. But somehow he always managed to sneak back in.

Then something happened.

That man found out he had a terminal illness. When he found out, he started meeting with an amazing counselor at our church.

I went away on a mission trip for two Sundays. When I got back I almost couldn’t recognize the guy. He seemed taller, his face was glowing, and the dude actually smiled at me.

Then I kept hearing that he was going around apologizing to people he had hurt in the church. It was mind-blowing to see people who avoided him like the plague starting to hang out with him and enjoy it.

Completely flabbergasted by the change, I went to the counselor he’d been working with. “What the heck happened to him?”

The counselor smiled and said something to the effect of, “He got courageous and decided to face his past and forgive.”

He died a few months later. Loads of people showed up at his funeral – people who just a few months earlier despised the guy. They told glowing stories about how much his apology meant to them and what a powerful change they had seen in him.

I learned a powerful lesson that day. I learned that one of the most courageous things you can do is to face your past, no matter how bad it was, and forgive. Like, really forgive. Acknowledge the hurt. Then choose to release the person who hurt you.

It’s the only way to really live free.

Be courageous. Face the past and forgive.