HE WAS A SEASONED VETERAN of the Christian ministry, my first boss in the church, a respected mentor, and a dear friend. I had asked him what he had to say to younger pastors like me as he approached his retirement. It was one of those what-would-you-do-if-you-had-it-to-do-over-again questions. His answer came quickly: "Don't take it personally."
"Don't take what personally?" was my next question. He told me not to take it personally when things get tough in the church, when I am attacked or tired or depressed. Things like that go with the territory. We're in a spiritual battle. When a soldier is shot at, he isn't shocked. His feelings aren't hurt. He doesn't peer over his foxhole at his adversary and shout, "Was it something I said?" He expects it, he plans on it.
That's spiritual realism. That's what impelled Paul to write the Ephesians that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against ...1