Author – Marshall Shelley
Publisher – Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1994 edition
In this book, Marshall shares many stories on conflicts that pastors may have with fellow elders or influential members within a local congregation.
He gives titles to people: (1) the bird dog, (2) the wet blanket, (3) the entrepreneur, (4) captain bluster, (5) the fickle financier, (6) the busybody, (7) the sniper, (8) the bookkeeper, (9) the merchant of muck, and (10) the legalist.
All of these types of people in different ways can hamper the preacher in his calling and distract him in his own personal walk with God.
Here are characteristics of dragons:
- “The worst dragons may be, in the beginning, the pastor’s strongest supporters.”
- “Dragons often work overhard initially at befriending you.”
- “Dragons usually compare you to their former pastor.”
- “Dragons thrive when the church’s formal authority and informal power structure don’t match.”
- “Dragons are often bred in counseling.”
- “Dragons often sensed a call to the ministry at one time.”
Here are some quotes that stood out to me.
“Resolved: that all men should live for the glory of God. Resolved second: that whether others do or not, I will” (Edwards, p. 49).
“When attacked by a dragon, do not become one” (p. 61).
“It’s doubtful that God can use any man greatly until he’s hurt him deeply” (Tozer, p. 80).
“Part of the miracle of grace is that broken vessels can be made whole, with even more capacity then before” (p. 80).
“Criticisms can’t be ignored, nor should they be allowed to set the direction for the church” (p. 115).
“The only times public action is ever appropriate is for continuing, confirmed, and unconfessed sin. And never unless the leadership of the church supports the move. Bringing things into the open too quickly is more dangerous than waiting too long. Rather than forcing the issue publicly, often more is gained by learning to minister in an unresolved situation” (p. 132).
“It is a fact of Christian experience that life is a series of troughs and peaks. In his efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, God relies on the troughs more than the peaks. And some of his special favorites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else” (Marshall, p. 133).
“True love isn’t even learned among friends we have chosen. God’s kind of love is best learned where we can’t be selective about our associates. Perhaps this is why the two institutions established by God — the family and the church — are not joined by invitation only” (p. 148).
In summary, I do know this. Patience, courage, love, humility, gospel repentance and growth, and Christ-likeness – these characteristics are all forged in the fires of conflict.