Monday, June 2, 2014
The important thing about leadership they didn't teach you in seminary - Part 2
Well, there's some things they skipped over.
In Part 1 of "The important about leadership they didn't teach you in seminary ...," we looked at how serving and leading others will always result in push-back and tension. Today, let's take a look at another very important item you probably didn't hear anything about in seminary.
One of your greatest challenges as a minister will be this: Throughout your ministry, people inside and outside the church who come to you for counsel will pressure you to "bless" their sin. And sadly, many pastors will fail these people by giving it to them.
Last week I had a long conversation with a pastor who has been in vocational ministry for many years. One thing he wrestles with is when married couples come to him with a marriage that is tragically torn and tattered, and the couple tells him the only answer they see is divorce. They seem set on pursuing that course. As he related, it can be very easy for him to engage emotionally with them and agree that the two going their separate ways appears to make sense; they don't demonstrate any love for each other, and they've reached a point where they don't even like each other. But there's no adultery, no non-believer leaving a believer, just two believers who are failing miserably in their marriage. They want him to tell them it's okay for them to divorce, and he's tempted to do so.
Other examples include the church member who tells his pastor of a stupid decision he made that now could send him to prison if he tells the truth about it. But chances look good that if he doesn't tell the truth, he'll get away with it this one time. He's exhibiting remorse for making a terrible decision, and swears he would never do anything like this ever again. He wants his pastor to tell him it's okay to lie, and the pastor is tempted to think it would be beneficial if he did, after all, what would happen to his wife and children if he winds up in prison?
These are just two of many, many ways in which pastors will be tempted to buy the lie offered long ago when humankind's obedience to God was first challenged. It comes with a church member or seeker asking them, "Did God really say ...?"
There's your challenge.
Will you stand with God and answer, "Yes, He did!" Or will you offer a wink and a nod, the equivalent of you giving your blessing to their sin?
These moments will be some of the toughest in your ministry life, and they will have a defining affect on your ministry. Because of that, that's why Paul emphasized the following to Timothy ...
"Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others," 2 Timothy 2:1-2.
To be trusted with the Word of God isn't just teaching it correctly from a pulpit or in front of a group, but also living it faithfully, and upholding it in every circumstance. In the same chapter, in verse 19, Paul adds:
"But God's truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: 'The Lord knows those who are his,' and 'All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil'," 2 Timothy 2:19.
In 2 Timothy 4:1-2, Paul becomes more emphatic: "I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching."
It's fun to stand on a big stage and preach, but your metal as a minister of the Gospel is tested in those times when you need to "... patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people ..."
Before you pursued vocational or bi-vocational ministry, you thought it was challenging enough to keep your own life squarely built on the foundation of the truth of God's Word. Now, as an ordained minister, you will be challenged with the issue of sin in the lives of those you lead and are trying to reach for Christ. Will you give in to the lie that God didn't really mean that, that sometimes it's a "loving" thing to look the other way when someone is considering sin, or will you stand true to the Word of God and lovingly but clearly warn people against sin?
Welcome to the ministry!