Two Bad Eggs

Several years ago, my wife and I found ourselves at a new church. We had been looking for a church that stayed true to God’s Word. After a few weekends of sermons, we felt this must be the one we were looking for. A month or two later we found ourselves being embraced and loved by the lead pastor and his wife, a value that my family and I shared.

Several weeks later not only were we loved on, but we were being treated as royalty. Pulling into the large parking lot, we were ushered forward to a private parking spot in the front of the church. We were then taken forward to an area marked ‘reserved seating’ in the front of the sanctuary. ‘Peacock feathers flourished!’ Never had I ever had such attention. Our tithe had earned us a seat at the table of ‘the elect’!

I thought, “We’ve made it!” God’s chosen! After this short season of the ‘peacock strutting in the room,’ I started to feel convicted that this is not the Lord! In fact, my feeling of accomplishment and pride began to transition to shame! “Is this treatment really how the Lord works,” I asked. After several weeks of prayer, asking God for confirmation and wisdom, in His love for me, God gave me the verse of the widow and her sacrificial gift of two small mites.

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on. (Luke 21:1-4)

After several days of meditating on this passage, I found myself wearing a blanket of shame but still asking for a sign. Yes, I wanted something visual. Well, God doesn’t disappoint! After church one Sunday we were being ushered out––yes, ushered out like a bunch of peacocks. As we approached the back pew, my eye caught an older lady with a walker navigating her way from her seat to the aisle. As the peacocks approached, chests inflated, the security detail pushed her back so the inflated elite could get by. As if in slow motion I watched this woman of God, the ‘mite giver,’ who should have been ushered to the front, now being pushed aside.

At that moment, I went from a peacock to a turkey! I imagined the years she must have spent honoring God, giving faithfully, and seeking His face. Yet, ‘the elect’ had taken her seat! My mind wondered about the true sacrifices she must have made.

How did she get to church that morning? Did anyone help her get to her seat or greet her when she came in? Where was she eating lunch after church? When was the last time the church called her? Has she received a big hug from anyone recently?

Soon after that heartbreaking day, my wife and I left that church. Unfortunately, my attempts to meet with the pastor in hopes of correcting the wrongs were unsuccessful, as the priorities of the elite were too strong. Sadly, many others left that church as well, and we may never know the reasons behind their departures.

Looking back, I believe there were two bad eggs in the bunch. The first was me and my flesh! I was wrong to want special treatment from the pastor. Yes, like others, I desire to have a relationship with my pastor. However, like so many church members, I was feeding the fire of favoritism. Proverbs 28:21 says that to show partiality is not good. James 2:1 commands that believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism and Romans 2:11 stresses that God does not show favoritism. I should have elected to take the back seat. I should have refrained from seeking the spotlight. My blessings come from the Lord and as my flesh wants attention, I should fear serving my flesh! I must kill the peacock!

Those who are blessed should be responsible for lifting and exalting the ones in need (we should exalt not be exalted)! I firmly believe in God’s love for me, and the Lord wanted to correct my course. My vision had become clouded. My feathers were being stroked, and not only by me but also by my pastor. So, God sent a Messenger. Yep, He used the Holy Spirit to turn my crooked path into a straight one. He reminded me that the first will be last and the last will be first (But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first Matthew 19:30)! I should find joy in sitting in the back row and I should take pride in helping someone worthy get to the front! I’m the first bad egg!

The second bad egg is the pastor and church staff who perpetuated this problem. I believe in the church and in my eyes, pastors are heroes but in this story, the humble woman in the back is the real hero. She’s the one who teaches the lesson; not the man in the pulpit. Church peacocks can be the ones giving the tithe and also the ones taking it. One of the reasons many individuals feel disillusioned with church and non-profit organizations is the exhaustion that comes from overly prioritizing individuals with resources or high social status. Chasing that fleeting shadow will wear you out.

Men, we have to take up arms and pray for our pastors. Most pastors aren’t bad eggs but there’s a reason James spends half a chapter warning churchmen about favoritism and peacockish behavior.

Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? (James 2:2-5).

While we seek to be faithful on this earth, we don’t want this to be our heaven! Many peacocks work to build their private heaven, but they’ll fail at getting to the One that’s free!

So what do we take away from this real-life analogy? We need to turn the table! Humble ourselves and escort the real elite to the front––the real heroes of our faith. Let’s hold each other accountable and flip the prosperity table! I leave you with James 4:12 – Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. Men, if you and I continue to be exalted over the lady in the back row, we all lose and we fail to claim our true reward!


Steve Thomas