By DANNY MINTON
It was the middle of September 1973, and I had just left the principal’s office and a discussion on a class problem when the school receptionist told me I had a call waiting. When I picked up the phone, it was Kathy, and she was obviously upset and in tears. I informed the principal that I had to leave and asked him to take my next Bible Class.
I met Kathy in front of the school; we drove down the street from ACU and pulled over to the side of the road. Having come from the doctor, she shared with me that the doctor said that our son, Scottie, was severely brain-damaged. We were three months into the six-month waiting period before his adoption would be finalized. The doctor suggested that we give him back to the adoption agency.
What came next was a decision that two young people in their early 20’s should never have to make. Should we give our son up for a healthy child, or should we keep him? This decision would be one that would change the lives of a lot of people; ours, Scottie’s, our future children, our parents, prospective employers, and friends.
Believe it or not, the decision was a “no brainer” to us. If he was our natural child, could we give him up? Of course not! So we chose to keep him. After all, maybe it wasn’t God giving him to us, but in reality, God giving us to him.
The decision would be met in different ways by different people over the years. A preacher I worked with early on told me we needed to put him in a state facility, or it would ruin our marriage. Some told us it was detrimental for any of our other children to keep him. A neighbor refused to talk to us about him because it “made her feel bad.” We endured comments behind our backs about being better off without him. We endured stares and mistreatment by people who did not understand, many of whom were good “Christian” people, meaning well. Some people couldn’t comprehend how we could do it; even doctors were amazed that we lasted so long.
I do not doubt that if we could go back and relive September 1973 again, that the decision would be the same, even knowing the fallout that would come down the line. God would bless us with another adopted son, Chris. Life would be different for us all; decisions would go differently than most family situations. Throughout the years, there would be right and wrong turns. There would be good and bad decisions. It was not always easy, but we made it through.
Church leaders, too, often have to make tough decisions. It’s not easy to approach someone in the middle of sin and try and bring them back to the Lord. It’s not always easy to make decisions that will affect the lives of hundreds of people.
In the middle of the current pandemic, our civic leaders have to make decisions. The president, governor, mayor, church leaders, business leaders, and the list goes on are having to make decisions that affect the lives of people, their health, and livelihood. Many times, these decisions face resistance. People get mad. Leaders receive criticism and are accused of handling it wrong or that they are insensitive and out of touch with what actions should take place.
What most people don’t understand is that unless they are sitting in the seat of those making decisions, they have no idea of the battle that goes on in their minds. How do you approach someone with compassion? How do you show someone you love and care for them while at the same time making a decision that affects their life? In the spiritual world, how do you exhibit the same tough love that Jesus did and still bring people close to you, close to God, and a healthier spiritual life?
Jesus warned that if you stand up for Him that the road will be rough. The world will hate you. People will ridicule you, while still others will oppose you. But he reminded his followers to stand firm. He reminded them that he would send a comforter to be with us and help us through the tough times.
Leaders, whether church or government, hold in their hands decisions that can change lives. Many of those will not be popular. However, those of us who rely on God, if we always seek God’s wisdom and make our decisions based on what is good and right in His eyes and for His children, the criticism that comes from the world or the few should not bother us.
Over the years, we learned not to pay much attention to the negative criticism we had with our son. We know we made the right decision and were blessed in ways that most people do not understand. As the years passed, there was more support than criticism.
It’s time we should be praying for those in leadership, both in the world and the church. It’s challenging to make decisions that you know will be unpopular but necessary. Hopefully, our choices will not be based primarily on what people think, but instead on what God thinks. After all, He’s the One to whom we are answerable.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.” John 15:18-21
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ