He was a good man as well. Others found him to be uncomfortably good. He wasn’t pleasant to be around outside of the class meeting. He was a disease there. His expression was troubled. His tone of voice was distressing. His statements reflected the sorrow he felt toward everything and everyone. This oddity was what led to him being named Class Leader. The young pastor assumed he was the one who would set things right and keep them that way because of his outspoken criticism of the words and actions of others. Such a harsh critic was seen to be practically flawless, the ideal censor, and an example for his fellow critics. And it was undeniable that he emphasized his role as a censor. He was constantly moaning and complaining to anyone. He would read a psalm or a prophecy that described the destruction of Zion to begin the class meeting. The hymn would follow suit, and the prayer would be a confession that everything was wrong and that there was no hope. His own life had been one of battles without a winner, of many challenges, but no victories. He saw the Christian existence as nothing more than a barren desert devoid of any shady palm trees or refreshing streams, a valley of tears without any Pisgali heights. He was aware of everything’s shadow side. He exuded melancholy. For him, religion was about suffering, enduring hardship, and persecution, and Christian fellowship was about the chance to air grievances and criticize one another. He was a good man in his own right, but his type wasn’t really fit for the position of class leader.

A young convert felt a chill that was almost fatal when he entered his class while still basking in the glory of his first love. He was filled with exultant hope and thankful joy as he settled into his new existence. Ah, my young brother, everything seems fair and bright to you right now, but let me warn you of your deceitful heart, of a tempting devil, and of a sinful world. The class leader sighed a long, drawn-out sigh and groaned after the student had finished telling the story with swelling bosom and streaming eyes. There are few who will be rescued, and the Church is chilly and backslidden. He was a good man, and candor and faithfulness are commendable, therefore this was meant well. But in this situation, sympathy and encouragement were especially needed. These were not in keeping with who he was, so perhaps he wasn’t at fault. Organic melancholy and austerity are rarely alleviated on this side of death. However, a guy who can only moan, groan, and predict doom is unfit to be a leader in the Lord’s army.

This regime caused the Class to disperse. The exact group of people who needed the benefits of the class meeting the most—the young people—were driven away. Who could blame them for avoiding such a depressing location? Religion should not be accompanied by dread and doom, but rather by youth, health, and enjoyment. Jesus’ blessed company never put a stop to the heartbeat of legal pleasure or cast a shade over the way to innocence.

The worst part of it was not that this disgruntled Class Leader slaughtered his Class. He contributed to the destruction of young people’s developing spirituality. He led them to believe that the Church was a burial ground where everything that was happy and bright in life was to be interred, rather than the house of God where his family finds refuge, fellowship, consolation, and all other heavenly delights. As a Class-leader, he was a burden and a lachrymose affront to the religion of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. As a private member of the Church, he would have merely been disagreeable to a small circle.

This man was a genius at implying uncertainty and mistrust. He lamented a man-fearing ministry and wished for one who would weep openly and spare no one because his pastor was not fiery and combative enough for him. He would describe some of the most difficult situations that occurred in the ministries of Lorenzo Dow, Peter Cartwright, and other preachers of similar caliber before concluding glumly, “We no longer have such preachers. All of our clergy prophesy favorable events that enable the Church to advance.

He was a kind man, as has previously been stated, albeit not of the highest or most alluring kind of goodness. Because of his innate prejudice, he formed a distorted impression of Christian virtue and service. People with fatally biased personalities are forced to filter everything through the murky lens of their own morbidity. The prettiest flowers that grow in God’s garden don’t contain any honey for them. Such an individual should not be in a leadership position because it would cold and blight the souls that should be warmed and nurtured.

By Nathan Zipfel

Ordained Elder in the Church of the Nazarene Pastor of the New Life Church of the Nazarene in Boswell, PA. Batchelor of Arts Pastoral Leadership, Nazarene Bible College Master of Arts, Ministry, Ohio Christian University Master of Social Work, Indiana Wesleyan University Behavioral Health Therapist

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