Saturday, February 1, 2014
Scratching the Surface
(A Brief and Incomplete Guide to Qualifications)
I refused to go to bed with her.
Sooooooo when I left, she got on the pastor search committee, picked a paramour, and they didn’t live happily ever after.
Before going on, parenthetically, some folks sometimes think I’m writing narcissistically from my own congregational ghetto while scratching. Certainly and cynically, people are gonna think what they wanna think; but my concerns/interventions/ministry have always been more corporate than personal juxtaposed to the caring/bearing/sharing/time/energy that I spend with other pastors and congregations who are often victims of bad leaven mixing into their churches/lives to make ‘em worse. Besides, despite the arrogance of many churches in thinking their good, bad, and ugly are unique, most churches are the same when it comes to individual/corporate good, bad, and ugly. Simply, while I may be wrong on many things, I’m praying and trying to identify church challenges/opportunities and, at minimum, provide some input for their own decision-making. Or something like that.
However, as my peer and sometimes mentor Harold said when confronted by an angry pewsitter who assumed he targeted her in a sermon, “If the shoe fits…”
Getting back to the real issues behind the symptoms in the first two paragraphs, why do so many pastor search committee members end up leaving churches after their selections have been around for a while?
Hardly exhaustive, lots of ‘em weren’t looking for a pastor for everybody; but, instead, were searching for a personal champion, best friend, lover, or…
Why do so many people who were “leaders” in churches as deacons, elders, staff members, Sunday School teachers, musicians, and so on end up leaving/quitting and then dissing ‘em after serving terms or their Sunday School class ends or somebody new exhibits leadership in the choir or praise team or ensemble or…?
Hardly exhaustive, lots of ‘em express symptoms of the real issue causing separation/divorce – insult to our Lord’s high priestly prayer in John 17 not to mention what He says about forgiveness/reconciliation in places like Matthew 6:12-15 – like distaste for other members/staff/pastors, inability to work with others because they’re-not-them so messed up, and…
But the real issue is lack of call in the first place!
If really called by God, they are equipped with enduring fidelity and overcome annoyances/idiosyncrasies and whatever for Jesus!
If not, not.
When there is a failure of leadership to endure faithfully, it’s because they were never called in the first place; and culpability for quitting/exiting/dissing is not with anyone except those who thought but, obviously, did not accurately discern call (viz., nominating committees and pastors and the quitters/exiters/dissers themselves).
While our humanity lends itself to mistakes/miscalculations/commissions/omissions/sins,
we can cut down on ‘em by spending more time in prayer and evaluating potential church leaders by insisting on basic qualifications like a clear confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior, regular worship attendance, a record of faithful stewardship, participation in the whole life of the church, Romans 12:3, 1 Timothy 3:6, teachability, cooperativeness, openness, not a control freak, not a my-way-or-the-highwayer, and 1 Thessalonians 5:12ff.
Texts recommended during the discerning process of who is really called to church leadership include Ezekiel 34:1-10, Matthew 15, 20:20-28, 23:1ff, Romans 12, 16:17-20, 1 Corinthians 12, 13, Ephesians 4:1-16, 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9, and Hebrews 13:7.
The bottom line is a church leader must love Jesus; and if she/he loves Jesus, she/he will love like Jesus more than less and church life and ministry will be much better than…
Indeed, if I were searching for a pastor or trying to discern who should be a church leader, this would be my first question: “Who is Jesus to you?”
Really, that’s/He’s the keystone of church leadership.
Uh, He’s the keystone to life – here, now, and forever!
I’ll never forget talking to the abbot of Assumption Abbey, a Trappist monastery, in Ava, Missouri about a monk who quit/left after falling in love with a dental assistant.
When I asked how it could have ever happened; especially emphasizing how I knew that monk had been there for sooooooo long, the abbot replied sternly yet with a smile, “Sometimes it takes a while before we know if someone is really called to this vocation. He was here for only 17 years. He proved not to be called to monastic life.”
Yes, the qualifications for church leadership are clear.
Yes, who is called is clear.
Blessings and Love!