That led me to remember the times we have been asked to leave a congregation under less than ideal circumstances. I was young, naïve, and far too full of myself, but somehow I did remember this: The cause of Christ is not about my glory or my feelings or even a wrong done to me and my family. I must not do anything, regardless the circumstances, to harm the mission of the church in a specific area. So when neighbors or family who were not Christians asked me why we left, I was very careful in what I said. Usually, it went something like this: "We have been here a few years and the church felt it was time for a change." No one ever questioned me more, and I was relieved. The gospel was not going to suffer in this area because I felt a need to cry on someone's shoulder.
Paul is the perfect example of this. He talked about "false brethren" in his list of trials (2 Cor 11:26). He mentioned preaching brethren who did their best to cause him trouble while he was in prison (Phil 1:17), but he always kept things "in house." He didn't go around telling the people he was trying to convert how awful these people he wanted them to be a part of had treated him. That would defeat the purpose of preaching, don't you think?
He mentions in 1 Corinthians 7 that he wishes that everyone would remain unmarried. No, not just in the case of persecution, but even before that in the chapter. And why? Because you have others to be concerned about. Though the distractions in that chapter have to do with caring for a family and persecution that might affect that family, I can apply that in a host of ways, including this one. If a church mistreats a preacher, it is not just mistreating him, but also his wife and children. So, he says, make sure you can handle what might come not only your way, but theirs. Not even innocent children have the right to harm the cause of Christ.
Paul also mentions suffering at the hands of brothers in 1 Corinthians 6. It is a "shame" to have outsiders see us squabbling, he said. Better to choose to suffer wrong, or even be defrauded, than have the spread of the gospel harmed by insisting on my rights in the matter. In fact, he says that when we put ourselves forward like that we are "defrauding" the church with the consequences it brings. (1 Cor 6:7,8)
"Discretion is the better part of valor" comes from Shakespeare's Henry IV Part 1, (sort of) and is meant to be a joke. Falstaff is saying that keeping his mouth shut has saved his life, NOT that being quiet is the most important part of bravery. But I think in our case, it is not a joke at all. We are being discreet about what has been done to us because we recognize that we are not the center of God's plan to save man. To put ourselves in that position is nothing short of arrogance, but to be discreet enough that the cause of the gospel will not be hurt takes a special sort of selfless bravery.
We all have that obligation, not just preacher's families. We should be spreading the word about the good things the local group has done for us, not talking up the bad. How do we ever expect our neighbors to want to be a part of a group that we have nothing good to say about? It is far easier—and a lot more satisfying—to be the drama queen who can raise a ruckus about my mistreatment.
Paul's example says, "Don't do it. Be discreet. Put the gospel before yourself and even before your children. If you can't, then either don't get married or don't preach." We would all do well to remember that.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Rom 12:17-19)