Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Protect Your Pastor!

The one thing that our God has expected from us is honesty and openness with him. He cannot forgive what we are not willing to be honest about. As long as we keep lying and denying he is forced to leave us in our own muck and mire. It is when we are willing to be honest with ourself and with him that he is able to deal with the sin, show us the ugliness of it, correct us and then forgive us, taking it all away from us so we are not killed or burdened by it. We have to be open and receptive to Jesus, trusting him with our heart and our future. So it must have been very frustrating for him to have to deal with the Pharisees and the priests who were more concerned about position and power than they were about the condition of their own hearts.

As we read through the gospels it becomes clear that Jesus had a problem with these leaders. In Matthew 23 we find that Jesus laid out his complaint against them in a serious of "woe" statements. These are too lengthy to list but you can read them for yourself. They dealt mainly with the problem of the leaders being more concerned about appearance than substance. They were more concerned about themselves than with the people they were suppose to lead and teach. Instead of helping people draw closer to God they were acting as barriers. They were so out of sync with God that they could not even tell that he was standing in front of them. They had set their hearts on a certain course and not even God could turn them away from this destructive path. However, you can see here that Jesus was really upset because of the people that they were bringing along with them:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are." (Matthew 23:15)

Those who have been given responsibility as trainers in the Body of Christ have an awesome responsibility and will be held to a higher standard of accountability. They cannot afford to allow themselves to become insensitive to God, to hide away sin, or decide a course of action that is contrary to the Word and the Spirit. They must understand that their actions affect more than themselves and so they will be held accountable for what they teach and where they lead people.

It is for this reason that other members in the Body must not criticize the teachers of the Word for their preparation time or the amount of time they take in maintaining their relationship with the Lord. I think we are very wrong in expecting our pastors and trainers to be "jack of all trades", filling their days with things that other people can be doing. If they are taking the time to clean the church building then they are not in the Word. If they are printing off Sunday's bulletins then they are not praying over the sick. If they are out shoveling then they are not losing themselves in prayer for us. We treat them like they should be as busy as we are but then we are robbing ourselves. I want the person responsible for my training and accountability to be well rested, filled with the Spirit, overflowing with the Word, rich in his relationship with Jesus. I don't want him to be like me because I need his help to get to a better place, a higher place, a closer place with Jesus.

Please do not take my words in isolation but consider what I have written over a period of time. My trainer is not my mediator. I only have one mediator and his name is Jesus. But Jesus saw fit to put me under authority because I need training. I need someone further along in his relationship with the Lord to help me stay accountable, to train me in the work of the Lord, so I can learn to walk in unity with my brothers and sisters, to gain maturity so I can grow up into the fullness of Jesus. I need an encourager who is strong enough to help me see in the storms. How blessed would I be if I demanded that he fill his day with tasks that anyone else could do?

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrew 13:17)

We need to encourage the men and women Jesus has called to be trainers to be focused on their task. We need to understand that their lifestyle cannot be like ours because they have been called to something quite different from us. We should understand that we must step up and take the responsibility for certain ministries and work, to make the load easier for them. Pastors, especially, have servant's hearts and will never complain about the lesser tasks. They will gladly clean toilets, mop floors, baby-sit children because that is their heart but it is not their place. They will gladly fill in wherever someone is missing but listen to me carefully here: it is not their place. We cannot afford to have our trainers distracted from their task or it could go bad for all of us. We can run the community outreach programs. We can give out the food. We can mop the floors and clean the toilets. We can shovel the driveway, even the pastor's. He won't like it because that is his heart but too bad. Sometimes we have to protect our trainers, surround them with prayer and support so that we can reap the benefits of a totally immersed trainer.

I really don't want the trainer over me having to face any of these woes from Jesus. I want to encourage him to spend much of his time in worship, in the Word and in prayer. I want him to be so sensitive to the Spirit that if he takes a misstep he knows it right away. I want him to be so immersed in the presence of God that he knows he can trust the Lord with everything and does not have to hide anything away. I am sure the Pharisees started off well because they had a noble intention, to guard Israel against the encroaching Greek culture. However, somewhere along the way the heart was lost and they became the blind leading the blind. Let's prevent that from happening with our trainers and insist that they live according to the calling they have received. May the blessings of the Lord flow freely through the sanctified hearts of our prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers. AMEN!

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