The Tale of the Nice Mice
by: T.F. Tenny; District Superintendant
Maybe the subject embodied in this month’s caption will arrest your attention. Whoever heard of nice mice? Rotten rodents, yes – but nice mice? Personally, I had not thought about it either until I recently
read a newsletter from a friend who pastors several hundred miles from our state. I thought it contained some interesting information on mice and what happens when you refuse to confront them. Nice mice can
become bad rats. Maybe this article will help you understand why there are times that certain issues must be confronted by the pastor and congregation, Hear my good friend out…
As I removed the dish towel from the kitchen drawer, I noticed something unusual. Tucked away in the back comer of the drawer were a few little seeds and some shredded paper. “Where did that come from?”
I wondered as I removed the small pile of debris and deposited it in the wastepaper basket. Shrugging my shoulders, I closed the drawer and pushed the mysterious stash from my mind. I had better things to think
about than some seeds and bits of paper. After all, it was such a little thing. How easy it is to ignore the initial evidence of something that can grow into a major problem. A week later I once again noticed something unusual this time in the cabinet underneath the sink. I was forced to face up to the ugly truth. Some uninvited visitors had taken up residence in our house. I had discovered mouse droppings. No longer could I avoid the obvious. We had mice!
“We need to get some mouse traps,” I informed my husband. “Be sure to remind me to buy some the next time we go to the store.” Yet, in spite of the fact we went shopping several times in the next week, and in
spite of the fact that the evidence of our infestation continued to grow, we still didn’t remember to buy the mouse traps. Out of sight, out of mind. Somehow it was easier to ignore the problem than confront it. As Jack and I would lie in bed at night we could often hear the patter of little mouse feet as the mice scampered through the walls. Sleepily we would say to each other, “We really have to do something about this.”
It was weeks before we finally bought the traps and set them in place. And instead of purging the house of just the original one or two mice, we now faced the overwhelming task of eliminating dozens of the little
rascals. Its amazing how quickly mice will reproduce when you do absolutely nothing about them, allowing them to remain in your home. Once we got serious and declared war against “our” mice, there was a fast decline in the muse population. Every morning three or four were found squashed in the traps. I dreaded the morning trap check. “Oh, the poor little things,” I mourned. “How can we possibly do this to them? They didn’t do anything to deserve this kind of treatment! There has to be a better way!” But Jack had determined that not a mouse would remain. “Joan,” he would admonish me, “these are not cute little
pets. These are rodents. Do you want them to bring in disease? Don’t be ridiculous!”
I had to admit he was right. We continued to set the traps every night and discard the victims each morning. When the traps had been empty for over a week, we knew that we had the victory, and we purposed in our hearts that we would never again ignore the tell-tale signs of infestation.
It was quite by accident that I came upon the signs of “infestation” in our church. Following morning worship, I was heading down the hall to Jack’s office when I came upon a church member talking with one of our deacons. Their backs were to me as I passed, so they had no idea that their conversation was overheard.
“I really think the pastor is very legalistic and authoritarian in his approach to things,” the disgruntled member stated. “The leadership needs to take a firm hand and evaluate his management methods. The
last thing we need in this church is a one man show.”
Slowing my pace, I strained to hear the deacon’s reply. “I know what you mean,” he responded. “He can be somewhat heavy-handed at times.” Unexpectedly, I had come upon some little seeds of discord and shreds
of bitterness and resentment. Could they possibly have been talking about my Jack? Was our faithful deacon giving assent to this kind of talk? Perhaps I misunderstood. After all, I certainly shouldn’t jump
to conclusions from a few moments of overheard dialogue in the hallway. So I chose to ignore the evidence, and even refrained from mentioning the episode to Jack. He had enough problems without hearing about my suspicions of sedition in our church body. I decided to wait and pray.
A week later I once again spotted the suspect member in deep conversation with someone in the parking lot long after the midweek meeting had ended. I glanced at my watch and saw that it was nearly ten o’clock. Oh no! It couldn’t be! He was talking with another deacon. What was going on? Could we possibly have a “rat” in our midst? I sensed that the embittered member was dropping all sorts of evil reports upon any leadership who would give him an ear. You just can’t neglect “rat droppings” in the church. Jack had to know.
“This is definitely something that needs to be confronted,” Jack said after hearing the evidence. “If what you’re told me is true, we certainly can’t allow it to continue.” However, Jack decided to wait for the right opportunity, and several weeks passed where nothing happened openly, only some subtle innuendoes made. At a Tuesday evening prayer meeting, there was a rather pointed prayer request for the leadership, confirming that something was definitely stirring. Still we continued to wait and pray, hoping the situation would resolve itself without any action on our part. Finally, Jack declared spiritual warfare against the rebellion that was spreading right within our church walls. I’m not saying that he exactly set a trap, but a definite plan was laid out to confront the trouble maker face to face. Spirit attracts spirit, and rebellion
breeds rebellion. The infestation had to be stopped before it spread any further. “If our dissatisfied member isn’t happy here, then he needs to find another church,” Jack stated. “There’s no way he can stay in The Tabernacle and continue to spread discord
and contention. I’ll meet with him and try to resolve the conflict, but if he can’t walk in unity with us, then he has to go.”
I must admit that my “motherly instincts” took hold and I began to feel sorry for the instigator. This man had been a valuable member for several years, and I loved his wife and children. In spite of the problems, I even loved him. “How can we just send them away?” I questioned. “There must be some other way.”
But the meeting between Jack and the member brought only a barrage of bitterness and resentment. The difficulties were deep-rooted, and the man wanted nothing but Jack out and new leadership in. He refused to even discuss the situation. Finally Jack was forced to say, “I cannot allow you to remain in this church causing discord among the brethren.” The member left the church, followed by several others, including a
deacon. He had managed to reproduce his discontent in other members of the congregation. It took a while, but eventually our church was purged and the infestation eliminated. Does this sound like a drastic
solution to the problem? Sometimes you have to take drastic measures if they are required. When there are mice in your house, they seldom leave of their own free will. And a mouse rarely stops being a mouse
because you ignore it or indulge it. You have to meet mice head on. A mouse in the house demands severe measures, and so does an interloper in the church.
Well there you have it… the tale of nice mice – left? alone too long. Don’t let anybody infect you with a spirit of criticism. Mice are famous for being carriers of disease. Don’t let it happen to you. There’s too much glory in the kingdom for the spirit of the mouse to get a hold on me.
The above material was published in the August 1995 issue of the Louisiana Challenger, pgs.3&8. This material has been copyrighted and may be used for research and study purposes only.