I like Father Michael Pfleger, or at least I liked him back when I was executive producer at WCFC-TV in Chicago and he was a frequent guest on the talk show “Among Friends”. Back then, he was a white priest ministering in a predominantly black part of Chicago and seeing many lives changed. His words were of hope and love for the oppressed, and he was about drawing people of all races and backgrounds to the love of Christ. Obviously something’s changed.
His now infamous tirade about Hillary’s entitlement to the Democratic nomination has placed him right up there beside Rev. Jeremiah Wright as racist hate-mongers abusing and misusing the pulpit. Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, has asked Father Pfleger to temporarily step back from his obligations at St. Sabina’s Parish to reflect on his recent statements. The statement that Father Pfleger has issued in response sounds sincere, but how much better if we hadn’t gotten to this point.
Once again, the church gives us a case study in management and ethics. Get out your notebooks.
Kudos to the Cardinal. He responded quickly and reasonably, and showed that he and the Church would not condone this type of ministerial mayhem. And kudos to the press who kept watch on Trinity United Church of Christ even after the departure of Rev. Wright and Obama’s membership resignation. [lesson: if you are in management, respond quickly and reasonably, and buy yourself some time to decide what more you should do]
Now for a bit of life application… you, like Jeremiah Wright and Michael Pfleger, are a walking, talking, living, breathing example of Christ. (Their vision of Christ is likely very different than yours, but to the non-believing world, we are all lumped together as Christians.) So act and speak carefully, both the world — and Christ — are watching.
Read the book of James. It’s short, only five chapters. First just read it. Then go back and read it again, this time underline every thing he says about the tongue, speaking, mouth, your words, and then list everything that you have learned about what James had to say (inspired by the Holy Spirit of God) about what you say. Finally put it into practice. (this is a mini-course in Inductive Bible Study).
Here’s a little something from that study Brother Pfleger should have kept in mind, it comes from James’ letter, chapter 1 and verse 26:
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
And in Father Pfleger’s case that’s a real shame, because his ministry to the oppressed is proof that he has a good grasp on the next verse:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
The lesson… watch your mouth. Your good works can easily be undone by bad words.