This for Mez McConnell is worth 5/10 minutes of your time to think through the issues of serving the Lord. He addresses serving the Lord in the realm where Mez has been called, but it has much that generally applies to the Lord’s work.
Here are two quotes:
- If you’re serious about ministry then you’re serious about prayer.
- Nobody of note that ever accomplished anything for the kingdom did it without facing a cauldron of opposition and misunderstanding.
The Harvey Weinstein affair which I have written about previously here appears to have opened the floodgates as regards to the inappropriate sexual advances of so many prominent figures. Aled Jones here is one to have some what he calls “juvenile” behaviour revealed.
It all just indicates to me how careful we need to be. We must live in such a way as believers to make sure that we are “void of offence”. There must be no indiscreet behaviour particularly with regard to the opposite sex. We cannot be too careful. This particularly applies to leaders in churches. Satan has had, is having and will continue to have a field day among our churches through the careless actions, and in other cases plainly immoral actions, of elders and pastors
Here is one of those realms where we need to think about accountability. Obviously being accountable to the Lord is the most important thing. But sometimes it is good to think about someone to whom you commit yourself to being fully open. When the Lord sent out His disciples, He sent them out two-by-two. After all they would be going to foreign parts. They would be away from home. All kinds of dangers from pretty girls and lonely nights can ensue.
All in all let us be so careful. In all our dealings let us always be cautions.
Now this is a principle for life, but is it particularly a principle for pastoral ministry. You must always be studying. I fear that a lot of pastors, including me, are failing in this area. I fear that they have got into a way of doing things and are not likely to change. So the thought of studying some more is not on their agenda.
In thinking of studying here I am thinking about observing what happens around them. In particular it involves assessing what they find works and does not work in a certain setting. So it might be a news reporter on TV who either excels or totally fails in bringing forth the story. Studying how they went about their work whether it led to success or failure can be so useful. Through this process we are learning about how to convey information for the benefit of others which is a crucial part of our pastoral calling whether taht be in preaching or personal interaction.
When in meetings with others, consider who are the most effective in helping others and seek to emulate the methods they adopt. So many in discussions just want to have their own say. So learn also from the verbose and tiresome who are active in the meeting and do not follow them.
We must always be learning. So when you go to another church observe how things are done and seek to glean that which would benefit your ministry.
God providentially is bringing us into a multitude of circumstances everyday and we should be learning continually.
Recently I was speaking to a man and generally seeking to exhort him to live out his profession of Christ. This was all very much resisted. Towards the end I sought to bring him back to the essentials of the gospel. At this point it became clear that he really did not have a clue. He did not understand the basics of the gospel.
This all led me to ponder upon something that I have regularly considered and even chastised myself about. It is the fact that you can’t expect goats to act like sheep. Someone who is a foreigner to the grace of our Lord Jesus, no matter how vehemently they might make profession of Christ, cannot be expected to act like a Christian. Paul gives insight when he writes: The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14).
I am left wondering how much of my pastoral engagement with people has been misdirected because I have failed to establish of first importance, whether or not I am dealing with a sheep or a goat. If I am speaking to a goat exhorting them as regards to discipleship is not what is required. What is rather required is to exhort them to come to Christ and find salvation in Him.
The ongoing news-storm ensuing from the Harvey Weinstein antics about the harassment of women in workplaces continues. Here is a further article from today. This leads me into considering how church Elders should interact with women. If we look at the qualifications for eldership 1 Timothy 3:1-7 we see the headlining requirement to be that of being above reproach (v2b). it seems that all the other requirements explain and developed what it is for an elder to be above reproach. An elder therefore is to be of such a character that there is nothing in his life which in any way would cause unease among those who observe his life. One of the critical areas in which this is seen is in his relationship with women. In his conduct towards all women he should be above reproach.
One of the qualifications for an elder is that he is a one-woman man (see 1 Tim. 3:2b). I have written about this term here. An elder is to have focus on the one woman who is in his life. in no way should be give any amorous indications to any other woman. There is a zero-tolerance in this realm. He will readily speak of his affection for his wife in a sensitive and thoughtful way. But by his actions and words he will make no-advances to any other woman. His hands will be “firmly in his pockets”, his eyes will not linger on another woman and his mind will not ponder on what might be if he only could.
One particular area to be thoughtful of here is that of how he speaks about the dress of other ladies. He can and should speak well of the appearance of his wife, but nver never say anything about the dress of another lady; absolutely nothing. Speaking of her dress can cause all sorts of problems: Your wife thinks; “Is he interested in her?”; the woman thinks “Oooh he thinks I’m attractive” and she starts to ponder. And if the woman has a husband; he is potentially incensed by your perceived advances. You cannot be too careful in this realm.
If I could give an exception here though and that is in cases when you may have to approach a lady in church about her dress if she is being too provocative in here attire.
The giving of hugs and kisses needs to be carefully considered as well. Certain cultures see this as more than acceptable. In fact it is part of the norm to act in such a way in many societies. But the elder must be very careful. There may be times in mourning for example when this is not just acceptable, but actually helpful. But caution must be exercised.
It is also good to be careful of being alone with another woman. Age differences and teh expectations of the meeting need to be considered here. So if a lady is coming to see you about her husband’s funeral that is very different to a sister in the church just asking for a meeting without indicating why. Age difference is important as well. But visiting a lady of similar age to you on her own at home when her husband and children are out, to me seems very dangerous. In all thsi it is best to err on the side of caution.
Finally never trust yourself in all these matters. Paul after indicating how teh Israelites failed, addresses the Corinthians and says if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Cor. 10:12). Many an elder is now wrecked in life and ministry and some have had even their very lives cut short because they did not heed that.
And a finally, finally, make sure you build such a satisfying relationship with your wife that you would never have any thought of “looking elsewhere.”
You have that gift so that you can benefit others. Paul revealed his desires to the Romans I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong (Rom. 1:11). Paul would want to use his spiritual gift to make the Romans strong in God. He was interested in them growing for the Lord.
This is so very important for us to learn. In all of our dealings with others we should be sold out for making sure that they are benefited. I should be using all my gifts and energies so that they grow as an individual in God and for Christ.
We do not operate to make people our friends, to make them our supporters, to recruit them to a cause or to persuade them of a view point. Rather we labour in all things for their growth in God and for Christ.
The general principle of conduct displayed by our Lord in His ministry on earth was that of walking with people. His general modus operandi was to move into lives not to confront, but to walk alongside of. This meant spending time with people, talking to them and listening to them. His dealings with the twelve disciples was a realm in which this was specifically displayed. Confrontation was the exception in His dealing with people.
There were times of confrontation particularly when He came face to face with false teaching, hypocritical living or satanic action. We can remember how, when Peter sought to dissuade Him from the cross, He said Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’ (Matt. 16:23).
This makes us to think about the conduct of our lives. Whether it be as parents, employers or church elders, if we are always confronting, then there does seem to be something wrong with our approach to ministering into the lives of others. The general tenor of all our parenting, managing and pastoring should be to walk alongside people, taking an interest in them, seeking to help them with their problems.