What to do after your moronic two minutes

Pastor, have you ever had a meltdown in the pulpit?

A few years back, two Atlanta radio jocks were fired for their on-air mocking of a New Orleans icon, former Saints football player Steve Gleason who has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s), lives in a wheelchair and speaks through a computer.

They made fun of him, parodied his situation, and someone role-played Steve speaking of his coming death and such.

It was the ultimate in offensive.

Later, one of the terminated idiots (I’m so objective in this story, as you can see) said, ‘What were we thinking?” The jocks apologized, and in a subsequent story, Gleason said he accepted their apology.

One of the men called it “a moronic two minutes.”

No argument.

I can sympathize.

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The five people you can count on most

If you would take a leadership role in the Kingdom of God, you will be needing fellow workers. You will not be able to do this alone nor will you be asked to do so.

The question will arise as to whom you can trust. You will have to decide the quality of the men and women with whom you are surrounded, particularly in determining your inner circle of leadership and responsibility.

Paul answers this for us by citing the examples of Onesiphorus, Timothy, Epaphroditus, Stephanas, and, if you will, Aquila/Priscilla.  See what he said…

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The one quality of a leader no one mentioned to you

I remember it like it was last week.

It was the mid-1970s and we were living in Columbus, Mississippi, where I’d gone to pastor First Baptist Church. A seminary professor who had taught some of us was in town for a few days, bringing a series of Bible studies in a local church. On Monday morning, we had gathered in my church and were sitting around drinking coffee and visiting.

The professor told us that Dr. Landrum Leavell had just been announced as the new president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He was currently pastoring First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls, Texas. I knew him slightly, having met him a couple of times in the company of his college-age son Lan, whom I taught in Sunday School.

It seemed like a good choice to me.

The professor had his reservations.

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What if denominations quit numbering and counting?

“Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the Kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is.’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:20-21).

Those who believe that every human is indwelt by God–and therefore, everyone is divine–love to quote (misquote) this passage. “The kingdom of God is in you.”

“I have god in me,” they will say, and reference this saying from our Lord.

The clear meaning of this teaching is that rather than God’s kingdom being something earthly, visible, and measurable, it is spiritual and inner, and therefore invisible and immeasurable.

Now, look at the context.

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What to do when a church staff member becomes a problem

This was written some ten years ago.  Rather than update the references, I decided to leave the stories intact.  Have tweaked the writing somewhat for clarity.

This week President Obama fired his top general in Afghanistan. Therein lies a tale which every pastor and staff member ought to take to heart.

General Stanley McChrystal is a case study in a lot of things: militarism, athleticism, patriotism, gung-hoism, machoism, and egotism.

What got this commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan sacked was a lengthy article just published in the July edition of Rolling Stone magazine. Since the article is online, anyone can read it. I did last night.

Can you say “insubordination?” In a sentence, McChrystal was openly critical of Obama and his diplomatic team. He held nothing back, said exactly what he thought, and had little favorable to say about anyone he works with.

Now get this. The President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief of all U.S. military forces, which makes him the boss of every general.  So, what we have here is an officer publicly criticizing his superior officer.  McChrystal would not stand for one of his staff doing such a thing.

Obama had previously dealt with General McChrystal, telling him to bridle his mouth. But some people cannot be told anything; they are a law unto themselves.

The writer says McChrystal prides himself on being sharper and guttier than anyone else. But his brashness comes with a price: he has offended almost everyone with a stake in the Afghan conflict.

The title of the article says it all: The Runaway General: The top commander in Afghanistan has seized control of the war by never taking his eyes off the real enemy: the wimps in the White House.

Assuming this account is accurate–and a layperson like me has no way of knowing–you cannot fire a guy like that fast enough. Get him gone now.

Now, we’re addressing pastors and church leadership here….

Have you ever had  a church staff member like that?

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Sometimes the salt of the earth needs sweetening

While researching a subject on-line the other day, I found myself reading some preachery attacks on other ministers. These men of God, assuming that’s what they are and I’m not saying they’re not, were taking no prisoners.

“That pastor is a liar!” “Preachers lie to you when they say….” “Ten lies preachers tell you.” “That preacher is an agent of hell!”

That sort of thing.

When those sent by the Father to be shepherds of His sheep use such blistering rhetoric, we fail our assignments in many ways: we dishonor the Lord, we shame the church, we needlessly slander our brethren, we set poor examples for the people in the pew, and we hold the gospel up to ridicule by the world.

How about a little sweetening, I wonder. And then I remembered something.

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How a new minister can gain the trust of the congregation

Your assignment, new pastor, is to love God’s people and earn their trust.  Nothing else is more important.  Eventually, when they know you love them and are trustworthy, they will follow you.  But not until.

Elton was a new pastor of a small church I’m familiar with. To call him excited is an understatement.

Early in the process, Elton announced to the deacons they would hold an overnight retreat and talk about how things should be done. So far, so good, I suppose.

At the retreat, this new pastor informed his leaders that he would be calling the shots and making all important decisions and their job was to support him.

Elton was fired the next week.

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“I need to apologize to our former pastor,” he told me.

Bob is the pastor of a small church in another state.  He told me this story.

As a layman he was put on the search committee to seek the next preacher.  Then, they elected him chairman of the team.  Soon he began to gather information to present to prospective pastors.

“What is our salary package?” he asked the church treasurer.

The old gentleman had controlled the purse strings for that little congregation for several years.  He said to  Bob, “We don’t want a preacher who thinks about those things.  He should settle with the Lord if He’s calling him here, and come no matter what it pays.”

Bob said, “I don’t think so.  The laborer is worthy of his hire, Scripture says.”

Because Bob wanted to do this right, he insisted that the church pay an adequate salary with benefits.  And did what was necessary to put it together into an acceptable form.

And then, something interesting happened.

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Demanding that the pastor preach your message

The angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them forth, and said, ‘Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life” (Acts  5:20).

Go. Stand. Speak.

Preach the Word. Preach “all the words.”  Preach the Word as the Lord leads.

A denominational website reprinted an article of ours.  Most readers were appreciative but one guy left a comment instructing me on what to preach.

“You ought to be preaching on racism,” he said.  “The churches are full of it.”

He came back later with a post script.  “After the church shooting in South Carolina, the sale of Confederate flags and guns went through the roof.  Yet the churches were silent. This is sinful.”

Interesting.  He says the churches are full of racism and silent on the subject. You wonder how he knows this.

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When church members insist on their rights

“Why not rather be wronged?” (I Corinthians 6:7)

Ask any pastor.

We hear it all the time.  Variations on this theme are endless…

–“All these years we have belonged to this church and given our money to support these preachers, and now when we need him, he’s in Israel on a holy land tour!”

–“I went by the church.  I needed to see the preacher then, not the next day.  And you’re not going to believe this, but he was on his way out the door, headed to his son’s little league game!  And me a member of his flock.  What kind of preachers are we getting these days?”

–“The preacher needs to apologize to me for what he implied in that sermon on Sunday.  I know he was talking about me, even though he used someone else’s name.”

And one that happened in my last pastorate…

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