Have you ever had those situations where you were presented with an idea and did not think it was a good one at first? Perhaps a time share, a used vehicle or a phone plan? The kind of thing where the dealer keeps sweetening the pot until it just seems like the right thing to do. Slowly your opinion transitions and you join the band wagon. Usually you enjoy the ride for a time, perhaps a year – maybe even two but then the bigger picture begins to be revealed, the time share becomes a great frustration with all its fees and limitations. The phone plan ends up costing you more because the things not included have gone up so much or new, much better plans have come out. The used vehicle becomes a money pit which you can’t rely on. We have all had it happen but the cycle has begun, there is no good way out. The investment has been made, the pattern set, you would lose a lot changing plans, selling things off and the hassle of change is not worth it. You started with good intentions – you knew it was not a good idea to start with and you knew what the right thing to do was, slowly over time you broke down, conformed and allowed your view and ways to be distorted. The road back is not so easy.
When Pastors and leaders start their ministries they generally start with good intentions, knowing right from wrong. They start because of a mission God has given them and a love in their hearts to see the lost saved, people discipled, the Kingdom impacted. Unfortunately over time things creep in distorting our judgement, shading our view. Frustrations, hurts, opposition to good things, rewards for worldly ways that have found their way in. Too many hands in the pot, different opinions and pressures can change the way leaders do things. Being surrounded by nay sayers and pessimists, strong personalities and selfish people can eventually seep into your way of doing things.
8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.
Which lens are you currently looking through?
It becomes easy to lead with selfish ambitions in mind. Trying to appease everyone so we don’t get challenged or rebuked. Making the popular choices so we are looked upon with favor. Making decisions that put us in the lime light but undermine the leadership of others. Looking for numbers of growth so we can be measured by worldly standards and patted on the back rather than quality spiritual growth in our people.
I was challenged today by the words in James 3:13-18. Who am I as a leader? Are there areas where I have allowed selfish ambition to creep in? Do I envy other leaders, covet praise, seek to make others happy above God? Is my leadership about doing the best for me and those who see me or doing my best for God? Do I serve in love with humility? Are my motives pure, am I considerate, submissive, impartial and sincere? In some areas I can say yes to these things – in others I am challenged to look deeper. There is no blanket answer for this, if you look at each area you serve in individually you will see the answers to these questions can vary greatly. When the answers don’t measure up to the Heavenly standard of wisdom – I challenge you to look deeper. Band aid solutions of changing outward behavior won’t work here. Find out why, where you have let things in, what are the motivators and causes and deal with those issues in a personal, real and humble way. Then the Bible says you will raise a harvest of righteousness. Changing, humbling ones self and purifying your ways is not an easy road but it is a worthwhile one.
Two Kinds of Wisdom
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
A few weeks ago I enjoyed watching a robin build a nest on our porch. The nest was cleverly built inside a vine-like decorative sphere hanging from the porch. A nice safe place for the nest. It laid 3 pretty little blue eggs in the nest and I enjoyed my mornings of coffee and devotions on the porch watching and waiting for the babies to hatch. I went away for a few days and of course when I came back there they were – 3 sweet little babies. Every morning I would go out on the porch and mommy bird would fly away while daddy stood watch over the nest and then mommy would come back and feed the babies. They did not mind that I was sitting near by – they kept a careful watchful eye on me as they went about their business. I delighted in watching the babies grow and how the mom and dad worked together to protect their young.
One morning I opened the porch door and the two robins flew at me, swooshing back and forth through the porch, knocking over plants, swooping at me and squawking! I ran through the porch and back in the house through the other door, quickly making my way to the window to see what was going on. The mom and dad were frantic and continued to fly around. As I looked over at the nest I saw no movement. I could not get high enough from inside to see in to the nest but I suspected something had happened to the babies. After an hour of flying about mom and dad perched themselves on near by branches and watched, occasionally checking the nest. As another hour passed one flew away, followed shortly by the other mourning parent. I cautiously snuck out and climbed up on a chair, Peering in the nest confirmed my worst suspicions. The babies had been taken in the night.
Our hearts were broken as we realized those birds would never reach their full potential, we would never see them fly and the harsh reality of nature set in.
God used this to paint a picture for me of the care we must take as Pastors in watching over our flocks. The harsh reality of the world and Satan’s roaming in it needs to remain in the forefront of our minds. All too often we see things are going well, we are enjoying seeing growth happen, the church is functioning nicely and we let our guard down. Those are the very times when Satan would love to tear the church apart, snatch away the people and the good that is happening. When all is going well we need to be on guard and protecting our flock.
The Bible tells us that no weapon formed against us shall stand but it also tells us to put on the armor of God. We have seen it before; strife creeps in, discontent, people wound each other, marriages begin to break down, serious moral failings in our parishioners, our leaders and even our pastors when we least expect it.
While we do not seek to give Satan any glory and we stand firm on the fact that he is a defeated foe, we must also be prepared for him to attack and attempt to destroy God’s kingdom.
1 Peter 5:8-9 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
We need to be praying for protection, more than that we must surround our ministries and churches with saints who are praying continuously for the protection of God’s church and people. We must be laying foundations that will stand firm and prepare our people for the attacks that will come and we must be teaching them how to be open to God, turning everything meant for harm into something that can be Kingdom Building. This is not about living in fear or looking for the enemy under every rock, it is about heeding God’s warnings, being wise, standing firm and using the tools He has given us so that we will not be snatched away.
Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
We can’t let our guard down on this, we can not take our protection for granted but must remain active and participate in it. Much like we mourned for the mom and dad robins who lost their babies, I picture God mourning over us as spiritual leaders when our sheep are lost or snatched away. I am sure God often sees what we failed to do and what we could have done to help them. Of course people make their own decisions and we are not at fault for those BUT if we speak truthfully here, how much more can we be doing, should we be doing and what are we overlooking when it comes to protecting and preparing our people?
- Putting on the WHOLE Armor: Preparing For War (lakeishachestnut.wordpress.com)
- SPAM vs God’s Firewall (truelivingtoday.wordpress.com)
- Making Enemies (isaiah532.wordpress.com)
- The Armor of God (gingerforjesus301.wordpress.com)
- No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service (thecarpentersministry.wordpress.com)
- Graceology – A Study of Grace – Ocean, Snow and a Spring Rain (darrellcreswell.wordpress.com)