Bill Bright

If a man is troubled about his sins, it is the work of the Spirit, for Satan never told him he was a sinner. –Dwight L. Moody


You reacted in anger, the thought seared the back of my mind. You didn’t take the time to listen to his concerns, and you were impatient. You hurt him.


I like to plan as far in advance as possible, especially for key events. But occasionally I get so busy with the many details of our worldwide ministry that an important item slips through.


This was one of those occasions. With a key international conference just a couple of weeks away, I had just realized the need for a set of printed materials that would be of tremendous benefit to the conferees.


As I shared the urgency with the department director responsible for this need, he responded, “Bill, we’re full up already. Two weeks just isn’t enough time.”


I became impatient. Couldn’t my associate see that we are in a war for men’s souls, that we must seize opportunities when they arise and not limit our efforts to 8-to-5 workdays? I made my point clear to him.


“But if we had had more notice...” he protested. “There just is no way we can squeeze in such a huge job with so little time. There’s the writing, then the design and typesetting and artwork, then the printing—”


It seemed obvious that he did not share my burden for the upcoming event. I pressed my point. “Look, this is an important international conference,” I said firmly, my voice rising. “And this is no time for ‘business as usual.’ Please find a way to finish this project in time for the conference, even if you have to work around the clock.”


I could tell my colleague was frustrated. But I reasoned, We need those printed materials. Whatever it takes, we need them.


Within a few moments after our conversation, I sensed the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Yes, even in our well-intended service of the Lord, we can stumble—and in the name of godliness I had offended a dear brother in Christ. I had failed to give him and his staff the benefit of the doubt—failed to take into account the tough workload they already were facing each day. Instead of asking him to think through the possibilities with me and helping him rearrange his priorities to accommodate the new task, I had virtually ordered him to get the project done and shown little appreciation for the many late evenings his team was already devoting to their work. I had reacted impatiently rather than in a spirit of love, understanding and teamwork.


At this point I had a choice to make.


On the one hand, I could let it go. After all, doesn’t the head of a large organization have the right to ramrod projects through when necessary? Didn’t the end (the strategic international conference) justify the means (get the job done no matter what it takes)? And didn’t my associate’s hesitant attitude warrant a stern talking-to about the urgency of the hour?


By all human standards, I probably could have justified letting the incident go. But deep inside I would have been restless and uncomfortable as the Holy Spirit continued to point out the sin to me, and God would not have blessed my future efforts on His behalf as long as this sin remained unconfessed. On top of that, several of my dear co-workers would have continued to hurt as a result of my callous attitude.


On the other hand, I could deal with the problem by taking scriptural action to clear the slate. The unrest in my conscience was the Holy Spirit cross-examining me as I tried to rationalize my behavior. What I had thought was forceful leadership, He was identifying as the sins of impatience and unjustifiable anger.


I knew that taking scriptural action was the only choice I could make that would please my Lord. I confessed my sin to Him and appropriated His forgiveness.


Then came the toughest part.


I drove down to the office complex where my associate and his team were located, and asked their forgiveness. We cried and laughed and prayed together, sensing a fresh outpouring of God’s love in our midst. Then we talked through our mutual needs and found a way—as teammates—to rearrange priorities and accomplish the task—on time!


Whenever a Christian stumbles and sins, he faces a similar choice. He can let it go, in which case he will continue to be troubled by spiritual unrest and ineffectiveness; or he can make things right with God and others and clean the slate.


By Bill Bright, The Secret


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