Reading time: less than 3 minutes I don’t claim to be an exorcist, but I know how to stop the devil in his tracks. Three little words: trust, respect and love. He hates that. Conflict is tearing apart way too many of our congregations. When we talk about emotional wellbeing here at Grace Place Wellness, we focus on clearing the air, refreshing the atmosphere that’s been clouded by anger, resentment, hostility, gossip; basically the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:20-21). It’s in our broken relationships that the devil gets his foothold (Ephesians 4:27). Harmonious relationships that exhibit a high degree of emotional wellbeing are Satan’s bane. He hates when that happens, and runs from love like crazy. The primary relationship in a Christian congregation is the relationship people have with their pastor. I’ve known a few churches very intimately and I’ve observed and worked with congregations where the atmosphere is calm and clear with a gentle breeze and a forecast for more of the same. In these churches, the Pastor trusts the members of the congregation to make good decisions for the sake of the church’s mission. He respects their ideas, dreams, passions, histories and their unique giftedness. And in emotionally healthy churches, the Pastor loves the members of the flock. Even when they smell like sheep. Even when they wander. His love is unconditional, like the love he himself has received from his own Shepherd. And this love and respect is mutual. In the healthiest congregations, the members of the church trust their Pastor, largely because he’s earned their trust by making wise, caring choices for the sake of the mission and the wellbeing of the membership. The people respect the Pastor, not just because of his office, but also because of his tireless effort on their behalf and his passion for the Lord’s kingdom work. In healthy congregations, it’s also true that the people love their pastor. Even though he smells like a sheep himself, because they know he is one of Jesus’ little lambs too. Can you share a story of this kind of harmony between Pastor and people? I’d love to hear from you! I know that pastors often disappoint the members of the congregation. I know because I’ve do so myself. Over thirty years of parish ministry I left a long trail of disappoint behind me. And I was often disappointed by the members of the flock. But the gospel heals by the forgiveness of sins, by the mutual grace that is given and share in our mutual confession and absolution under the shadow of the cross. The devil hates that. In a certain sense, the gospel record of Jesus casting out demons and calming the storm are the same kind of miraculous display of His power and love. Satan loves an atmosphere of malice, storms, hostility, thunder and grudges. Forgiveness between Pastor and people clears the air. “We trust you, Pastor, because we know that you respect us and love us!” That’s emotional harmony. And harmony is nothing more than unity with skin on. Harmony is living out the oneness we share under the cross in real and practical ways. Give the devil a headache. Forgive someone. Thanks for reading. Do you serve in a multiple staff setting in a church, Lutheran school, university or social service ministry? Discover how a Ministry Team Wellness Workshop can help enhance your team ministry by building the unity, spiritual life and communication essential to partnership in ministry. Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman for more information.