Ask Pastor Adrienne: Hate mail and transformation
Q: Dear Pastor,
Don’t you get a lot of hate mail?
A: You mean: do people disagree with me? Yes. Do they send me exhaustive, pointed dissertations about why I’m wrong on a particular subject? Absolutely. Do they name-call and label me? Yep, sure do. But as many wise people have observed, “Hate is a really strong word.” I can’t say that I’ve ever received feedback on a column that would fit in the “I-hate-your-guts” category. And knock on wood - thus far I do not need to hire security personnel like many pastors in the public forum have been forced to do.
I am keenly aware that writing for a national (global) audience, will garner difficult feedback on occasion. I’ve decided to tough-out the risk of being rejected, laughed at, railed against and demeaned because what I do is important. God empowers me to write, asks that I continue and so I do, with thicker skin all the time. He applauds and affirms me through the countless, wonderful people who write back to tell me how something I’ve said had meaning to them. Some gleefully explain that I add excitement to their lives as they eagerly look forward to my column’s printing each week, devouring it along with their coffee and donut. I, too, feast on these joyful quips for weeks at a time.
Hopefully, when we spend time with Jesus, we continue to grow and our perspective changes. I’ve devoted my life to spending time with God, so I’m thankful I now see negativity through a different lens than I used to. My reaction to haters, mockers and name-callers is that I must be doing something right. Effective ministry is supposed to make waves! Shining bright light into the darkness is painful to the one who awakens from sleep. And Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:18, 19, NASB).
The feedback I receive from folks across the country is fascinating. It’s my policy to respond to every single person by email or letter; unless it would cause harm in some way. I only refrain in order to protect myself or the fragile state of a reader. For example, a recent email received said this in the subject line: “Homosexuality is not a sin! Christianity is demeaning to all people. Religion is just superstition.” I chose not to respond to this person because they are clearly resolute in their beliefs and declarations. Frankly, I respect their rights; both freedom of speech and freedom of religion (humanism ... as ironic as that is) and I don’t need to comment on any of it. However, as a pastor, I perceive that this person is extremely wounded in key areas. I don’t want to hurt by trying to help from afar. “Mockers inflame a city, but the wise turn away anger” (Proverbs 29:8).
Even though I choose to grab the roses through the thorns, I still have feelings. Within the last year, I endured two extremely hurtful encounters from readers. Each had asked important questions about scripture and faith. One person was a confessed Jew (non-practicing), seeking answers about Messiah. Another told of life-long church-attendance, but whose knowledge of simple biblical truths was shockingly sparse. I spent time carefully crafting loving responses to educate and assist in both cases. When they did not like my solicited answers, accusations and rage flew back at me in email ... that I was condescending and arrogant; presumptuous and stupid. They couldn’t receive a single thing I said. And the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I’m always learning about people. One truth prevails: folks ask questions most of the time not to hear an answer, but to tell you what they think. Their inquiry is only the bait that sometimes conceals damaging barbs.
My role in the Kingdom through “Ask Pastor Adrienne” is being polished and refined all the time. My prayer is that my transformation as a person, Christian and pastor is aligned with the Apostle Paul’s observation: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB).
Thank you for reading and thank you for asking.
Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Send your inquiries to: email@example.com or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030. For more information on Pastor Adrienne, or to purchase her book, “Ask Pastor Adrienne: 100 Best-loved Columns,” please visit www.adriennewgreene.com.