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I felt ambushed. The elder set down his Styrofoam cup, stared across the table at me, and said, "The choir feels absolutely no support whatsoever from this church, and especially from you!" And I, the twenty-eight-year-old pastor in the early months of my first solo pastorate, considered my leadership, nay, my very manhood called into public question.

My accuser, the crusty comptroller of one of Southern California's biggest aerospace firms and a veteran of many a smoke-filled room, was baiting me. And did I take the bait!

At first I just stared at him, speechless. Then I turned beet red. Swallowing my emotions, I somehow made it through the meeting without exploding. Still fuming afterward, I told him, "I'd like a word with you in my office." Once inside, I closed the door and literally backed him into a corner. "Don't you ever pull a stunt like that again!"

At first he looked at me incredulously, but then he burst into uproarious laughter-and hugged me. "Aw, Vic," he chuckled, "I love you. ...

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