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BONUS BLOG: Wally’s Wisdom for These “Ides of March”

March 15, 2023

You and I know him here as Wally, which is how I knew him when we were at both Asbury and Candler. Now he’s Warren Latham and shares wisdom like this for the edification of all. Good stuff ahoy —

Et Tu, Brute? These classic words of betrayal by a friend are etched in the memory of anyone who read Julius Caesar by Shakespeare. It hurts to be stabbed. It hurts even more when it is a trusted friend or colleague who wields the knife of betrayal.

Pastors with any significant experience have experienced this, probably multiple times. And it almost always comes as a surprise and with significant pain.

On the downhill side of 50 years of ministry, I look back over the decades and certain painful memories remain. Names forgotten by others still echo in my mind. A new Christian I led to Christ and baptized when I was 21 left the church with many painful words because I was not as good in the pulpit as the other pastor to which he fled. A Finance Chair in my last pastoral appointment made wild accusations which later proved to be unfounded. I had led her husband to Christ and trusted her in a key leadership role. And there were many more in between.

One of the principles I learned to assert to the staff and lay leadership of the church was to be prepared. Any time we made a major decision which had significant impact on the ministry of the church, “Someone will get angry and leave the church, and usually it will be someone you least expect.” Usually, these defectors did not blame the decision with which they disagreed. Often they made it personal and blamed, maligned the pastor.

The knife in the back wielded by a trusted friend is always more painful than the other attacks. A pastor must develop both a tough hide and a forgiving spirit. These are necessary to avoid being subverted from the call to serve the Lord.

Now as a parent and grandparent the greater pain is seeing these knife-wielding friends and confidants perpetuate betrayal. Yet, I cannot protect the ones I love from the Brutus in their life any more than anyone could protect me. I can sympathize and comfort, but I cannot protect. Further, I can avoid the temptation to retaliate on their behalf. This is the hardest part for me.

Now I must remember the betrayal of Jesus by his most trusted friend, the treasurer for the group, did not result in anything by Jesus other than the offered reconciliation through his grace. Judas refused it. Jesus had to let him go.


when you discover a friend, colleague,

or trusted team member wields the knife,

offer grace.

If they refuse, let them go.

Do not carry hurt or resentment.

Move on.

Eventually, someone else will hold the knife of betrayal.

Do not quit.

Jesus told us to expect it.

Beware the Ides of March.

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