“Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem saying, ‘Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?….And He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?'” (Matthew 15:1-3)
“The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).
Historians tell us the Pharisees started off well, as revivalists in a way, calling the nation back to faithfulness. Eventually, however, their insistence on righteousness settled down into a code of laws and rules. They went from being encouragers to harassers, from lovers of God to bullies and legalists.
The legalist is someone who says, “I know the Lord didn’t say this, but He would have if He’d thought of it!”
The legalist is smarter than God. He helps the Lord by completing His Word, by filling in the gaps where the Lord clearly forgot to say something, explain something, or require a thing.
“Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation” –Psalm 51:12.
Just because salvation is for eternity, anchored forever in the faithfulness of God, does not mean you cannot lose the closeness and fellowship with our wonderful Lord. A married couple can lose their joy and intimacy for a season, although the marriage is still valid and intact.
God’s faithfulness does not wax hot and cold depending on what we do or how we felt when we woke up this morning. He does not undo our salvation when we weaken and falter. The blessings upon us are conditional to our faithfulness and may dry up, but the relationship never varies. Forever, we are His and He is ours.
My children may be in or out of my favor at given times, but they are still mine.
When King David was criticized by a fellow named Shimei–and I mean publically and cruelly, cursing him–one of David’s men asked for permission to execute him on the spot. David’s response is worth noting. “My own son wants to kill me; how much more this Benjamite. Let him alone and let him curse, for (perhaps) the Lord told him to do this. Maybe, if I’m merciful to him, the Lord will be merciful to me.” (Paraphrase of 2 Samuel 16:9-12).
Every leader gets criticized. If you don’t want it or cannot take it, please refuse when they offer you that promotion.
To be a leader–the manager, president, chairman, or pastor of the church–means you will have a target drawn on your back. You must be able to take the heat.
Every leader needs the blessing of positive criticism from the ranks of the membership or team or congregation. The leader who rejects criticism is asking for all the trouble he/she is going to inherit.
But what if you are the employee or member of the congregation or team member and need to get a word of constructive criticism to the leader?
There are wrong ways to get criticism to the pastor. To the leader, boss, chair, president, whoever.
“That the leaders led in Israel, and that the people volunteered, O bless the Lord!” (Judges 5:2)
“For the body is not one member, but many…. If they were all one member, where would the body be?” (I Corinthians 14:14,19)
A man wrote to Reader’s Digest telling how his daughter had gone off to a woman’s university and he had received a letter from the dean. “We’re surveying the freshman class,” he said. “Please tell us about your daughter by completing the enclosed questionnaire.”
One question read: “Would you call your daughter a leader?” The dad wrote, “I’m not sure I’d call her a leader. But she’s a great player, someone you really want on your team.”
Our website (www.joemckeever.com) has two categories of articles on the subject of “Leadership”–listed as “Church leadership” and simply “Leadership.” To find them, scroll down the home page to a list of Categories, then click on these. The latter has nearly a hundred articles on the subject. Feel free to use these with your staff or congregation, as God leads. (I’ve met at least two pastors who had his assistant print out every one of these articles and bind them in a notebook. In their weekly staff meetings, they used them as topics of study and discussion for a solid year.)
Whether you’re talking about your business or a church or the Beta club in your high school, the principles for making it successful and effective are similar. Here is my short list, based on nearly 60 years in serving the Lord’s churches.
We have dealt with this subject several times over the years on our website. But it seems to meet a need to return to the matter from time to time.
There are two answers to this question: The best and shortest is to put mature leaders and sound structures in place to head off troublemakers. That is, stop trouble before it begins. And the other answer is everything that follows here….
In South Carolina, a pastor entered the worship service one Sunday morning and his jaw dropped. There sat a family that had belonged to every church in town, and had torn each one up. The only church they’d not joined was this one. And now they were here.
Sure enough, during the invitation they came forward and, because this was the way they did things in that church and no plans had ever been made for dealing with troublemakers, the pastor presented them to the congregation. The people dutifully voted to accept them into the membership. Then, the pastor called on an elderly deacon for the benediction.
I hate to see a young pastor get disillusioned by his first experience or two. But it happens, sad to say.
Those of us who have been in the field throughout all our adult years could wish someone had told us a few things about this work. So, assuming we are speaking to beginning pastors, here are a few things we’d love to share…
One. They might not have told you how much fun pastoring can be.
The redeemed of God are among the greatest people in the world (most of them) and they can enjoy life to the fullest. As pastor, you sometimes get to be in the thick of the fun. They love to laugh, to have adventures, and to encourage each other.
As pastor, you get to dream up programs and ideas that will affect your community, touch lives, transform homes, and reach the future–and then put it into effect with a huge corps of sweet-spirited workers as your team. How cool is that!
“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)
“We do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:4)
My wife gets attached to cars. I do not. Recently, I gave my 2015 Camry to my oldest granddaughter. I’ve done that several times before–starting with the ’96 Camry to my son many years back, later the ’05 to a granddaughter, the ’09 to our twin granddaughters, the ’13 Honda C-RV to my son, and now this one. I’m happy to pass them along, and as one might expect, they enjoy getting them.
To me a car is a thing, an instrument we use. My oldest granddaughter names them. The ’05 is Sandy and this ’15 is Pearl (names based on their colors). Like most cowboys in the old west, I don’t name my mounts. I take good care of them and have them serviced by the dealer on the recommended schedule, and thus have almost no trouble from the car. But when it’s time to replace it with a newer version, I’m happy to let it go.
Think of that as a parable. We let things go so they can be replaced by something better.
“It’s not about you, honey. Some people will love you more than you deserve, and some will despise you without ever giving you a chance. You must not take it personally.” –My advice to my Granddaughter
Erin just turned 21 and earns a living waiting tables at a nice up-scale restaurant in the Mobile area. The other day, she came home in tears.
The restaurant had been crowded, with long lines of people waiting to get inside. The kitchen was running behind and diners had to wait an unusually long time for their order. Erin ran herself ragged all evening. She specifically thanked people for their patience and apologized for the slow service. She didn’t have a moment to catch her breath.
This particular table had two young men and a middle-aged guy. They seemed nice enough. Since the kitchen was running slow and they had ordered pizzas which had to be made from scratch, requiring at least a 30 minute time frame, several times Erin stopped by to thank them for their kindness and patience and to assure them the pizzas would be out soon.
Then, when they paid their tab, she found out a different side of them.