I am well qualified to describe the emotions that question invokes. I have heard it from parents, teachers, coaches, and employers furiously and frequently.
I never liked the phrase and I utilize it now with my only warrant being that sometimes the critic and the question did help me.
Sometimes it did not help. Sometimes I knew what I did wrong and sometimes I did not. Sometimes my critics were wrong. Sometimes their attitude was wrong. All told I was a better son, student, player, and employee for it.
Recently, David Platt, a megachurch pastor had his Sunday morning service visited by the President of the United States. This on a day that Evangelist Franklin Graham had requested churches to pray for the President.
David quickly decided to call the President to the platform and, with the Bible in one hand and the other on the President, offered a touching extemporaneous prayer.
Some cheered at this and some chafed at it, both in the congregation present that day and in the wider Evangelical world. The reaction ran the gamut. The vitriol was staggering. David apologized to any members of his church who were offended.
In full disclosure I am not a “never Trumper” nor am I an “ever Trumper.” My first reaction was to commend David for the respect he showed the President and for the opportunity he seized to pray the Gospel.
However…. I must now ask, “David, you know what you did wrong there?”
Of course, I offer this counsel to younger men who may have similar, albeit lesser opportunities. Consider this:
1. When faced with a quick judgment always consider there is at least a third option. Never pray extemporaneously in a political setting – I tempted to say in any public setting – always read a prayer in such situations. Write one, download one, quote a Psalm in prayer – never pray extemporaneously. Hand the prayer off to a staff member or a deacon. Step out of the limelight deliberately and selflessly.
2. Do not bring celebrities to the platform. Recognize the honored guest if you must; have them stand where they are; pray for them where they are. The image of standing by the President, laying hands on him, as it were, is a powerful photo opportunity – and a wrong one I think.
3. Do not ignore the context of such an event. Franklin Graham had issued an appeal to pray for the President in the face of his political enemies. This was a calculated, not a casual visit; supporters and opposers of the President were much too invested in this – for or against.
4. When you have made a decision, stand by it. If you made an unpopular decision, stand by it. Rebuke those who over-react. Tell the “never Trumpers” AND the “ever Trumpers” to both calm down.
I am thankful that this event did bring attention to the Gospel. Everyone knows the political divide in this country; not everyone knows the eternal divide between the saved and the lost.
And of course I know that someone, perhaps correctly, can now respond to my blog and ask me, “David, you know what you did wrong there?” 😉