You must be able to stand in an evil day. An evil day is a day when you receive a series of blows. After a leader receives a series of blows, will he still be standing? Do you have staunchness? Can you resist a series of blows? A series of blows is different from a single blow.
Your depth and latitude are what are tested in an evil day. How deep are you? How wide are you? How substantial are you? It is a series of blows that differentiates the boys from the men.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
John Wesley continued his preaching and pastoral duties, almost without pausing. He refused to change his preaching and his ministry in spite of the blows he was receiving in his life. John Wesley said, “I cannot understand how a Methodist preacher could answer to God to preach one sermon or travel one day less in a married than in a single state.” A Series of Blows John Wesley’s wife complains: Molly complained about her husband’s lack of sensitivity to her needs. Molly was starting to feel paranoid. She tried travelling with her husband on the roads. England’s roads were not easy to travel; especially the way John Wesley travelled them. After a meeting, while John would exult about spiritual blessings, Molly would complain about the hard beds, the itchy blankets that were too small, and the bed bugs.
John Wesley’s wife physically attacks him: According to one of Methodism’s travelling preachers, he saw Molly trailing John Wesley by the hair of his head. She had plucked up some of his locks by the roots!
John Wesley’s wife accuses him: John Wesley naively encouraged Molly to open any letters that came to their home, when he was travelling. This kick-started another tantrum because John’s counselling of women through letters did not change after his marriage. Molly started to imagine the worst. In a particular letter to a woman named Sarah, John Wesley had told his problems with Molly. Molly misunderstood the language John had used in the letter.
John Wesley’s wife attacks church members: In a public meeting, John Wesley’s wife pointed to this lady called Sarah and called her a “whore.” John Wesley’s wife tries to destroy John Wesley’s reputation: John Wesley’s wife gave some of Sarah’s letters to John Wesley to the London newspapers to publish. John responded by listing ten major complaints against Molly.
John Wesley’s wife became an evil presence in his house: John Wesley said he could not pray with his wife because he felt that she was daily watching to do him hurt.
John Wesley’s wife became stubborn and unyielding: Do not forget that stubbornness is the same as witchcraft. If you are married to a stubborn person you are married to a witch.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
-1 Samuel 15: 23
Molly knew that she was not the wife she ought to be for John, but did not want all the blame for their unhappy marriage. John could persuade most women to do right, but he was unable to change Molly. In spite of the series of blows that John Wesley experienced in his marriage, he staunchly pressed on and did the work of God. He set aside his sexual needs and his needs for comfort and pressed on to lay the foundation for the Methodist church.
The summary of the blows to John Wesley through marriage is that John Wesley and his wife, Mary Vazeille were married in 1751, but stopped living together after seven years. They were reconciled for a short period in the 1770s, and then again separated from each other. On their 20th anniversary, Molly walked out and a year later she came back on her own. When he was 73 and she was 67 they separated for the last time. From the beginning till the end, she always felt that people were placing John on a pedestal and her in the gutter. John wrote, “The water is spilt. It cannot be gathered up again.” Two years later, he wrote his last letter to his wife that was a bitter note: “If you were to live a thousand years, you could not undo the mischief you have done.”
People like John Wesley experienced a series of blows in their lives and yet were able to persist with the ministry of preaching, teaching and building the great Methodist Church. Ask yourself: Do I have staunchness? What is my resistance to a series of blows? Your ministry may experience a series of blows and your ability to withstand them is called staunchness.
The Art of Leadership
By Dag Heward-Mills