There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and shunned evil. –Job 1:1
Job, you have instructed many. You have strengthened weak hands; your words have upheld him who was stumbling; and you have strengthened the feeble knees. –Job 4:3-4
Authenticity: Job had it.
It’s my observation that in sports the best coaches and in church the most effective pastors are all authentic.
They are the real deal.
They don’t try to be someone else. While they have surely picked up traits and lessons and insights from others, they do not do their imitation of other people. They are themselves.
The word–I love finding the root meaning of words–comes from autos, meaning “self,” and hentes, Greek for worker, doer, author. So, we might say “authentic” means “coming from the author” or “genuine.”
The Bible is authentic. It comes from the Original Author (of all things!).
What started me thinking about this was a sports discussion on the radio one morning recently. A former UCLA coach made the observation after the LSU-Alabama slugfest back in November, that both coaches, Nick Saban and Ed Orgeron, are authentic. They are originals, copying no one, imitating no one, just being who they are.
It’s good to stop and look around sometimes and ask ourselves some questions. We can think of a hundred such questions to ask ourselves: Where are you going? How did you get here? Are you doing what the Lord intended when He sent you here? Can you do it better? How can you do it better? Are you preaching grace, the cross of Jesus, forgiveness and love or something harsh and unyielding? How would someone who had never heard of Jesus react to your message?
On and on. There is no end to the questions. But I am not suggesting that we burden ourselves with a constant barrage of self-doubt. Only that once in a while, we should stop and take inventory.
Here are five questions that occur to me for every minister to ask ourselves…
Have you ever been cussed out? Ever been a hypocrite? Ever had to go for marriage counseling?
Come on, ‘fess up!
Here are twenty questions for you to answer, then share with your world. Don’t fret over it; just have fun with it.
You have my answers to the right. Copy the page and post on Facebook, your own blog or email, then delete my responses and post your own.
Our last article for this blog was “If your pastor does these 10 things, your church has hit the jackpot.”
Now, here is the other side of the coin.
If your church does the following ten things, your pastor–particularly if he is new–will feel he has won the jackpot. Stumbled onto a treasure. Won the lottery. Been richly blessed of the Lord. Choose your figure of speech.
“If the Lord sends either Shawn or Chip, your church has hit the jackpot!” –Statement from my friend Bill a year ago when our church was searching for the next pastor. (The Lord sent Chip. And now Shawn has resigned his church to become the next executive director of our state Baptist convention. We have hit the jackpot twice.)
If your pastor does these ten things, you should stop and count your blessings, friend. You have a winner.
The new pastor announced they were changing the name of the church.
The new pastor decided the worship music of the last umpteen years needed updating and has brought in another director and more musicians. The organist and pianist who have served so faithfully for many years are still being included but they never know what’s going on and wonder if they are unwanted.
The new pastor decided they should go to two morning services.
The new pastor decided they should go to one morning service.
The new pastor decided.
Anyone see a problem here? The new pastor comes in and starts rearranging the furniture. Restructuring God’s church. Moving people around like chess pieceds.
The new pastor is ruling. Or so it seems to many.
Ever been there? You should read my mail. It’s happening all around you.
Why sit we here until we die? (2 Kings 7:3)
Every pastor has a story or two he used to tell but which was lost because of the years and circumstances. I told this one a few times over twenty years ago and just ran across it in Chuck Swindoll’s book of 1500 stories, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart.
Back in the summer of 1982, Larry Walters, truck driver, had too much time on his hands without a clue what to do with it all. Mostly, he sat in his back yard drinking beer and thinking. One day he began to wonder what would happen if he were to get himself several surplus weather balloons, tie them together, and go aloft. He could spy on his neighborhood, and wouldn’t that be fun?
That’s why on July 2nd of that year he rigged up forty-two surplus helium-filled balloons from the U. S. Weather Service or some such agency. He anchored them to a backyard lawn chair he’d bought from Sears in San Pedro, California. Before lifting off, he thoughtfully brought along a pellet gun so he could shoot out a few balloons in case he began to fly too high.
To his utter amazement, the balloons lifted off with a bang. In no time flat he was soaring through the sky, eventually reaching 16,000 feet. That’s three miles, y’all.
I hate the way these things work, but it is what it is.
I’ll post something on here such as “the three best decisions I ever made in the ministry” and few people will bother to look at it. But come out with “the first worst decisions” or “the meanest deacon” or “my biggest regret” and it gets all the attention. Human nature, I suppose.
Motorists slow down to gawk at the wreck on the highway, but no one bothers to study the driver who did well. Obviously.
So, rather than announce “five great decisions preachers make in choosing sermon material,” we will talk about errors they make while doing that. Here are five that come to mind.
Your sermon was too long, too short, had too many stories, not enough stories, too deep, and too shallow.
Ask any pastor.
They’re criticized because their wives do not play the piano, but if she does “it looks like she is running the show.” Pastors are criticized for wearing the same suits but if they have a variety, they get slammed for spending too much money on clothes. Their kids are either too unruly or too something. The critics will always think of something to focus on.
Anyone who cannot handle unfair criticism should find another calling.
Recently, Dr. Thom Rainer invited ministers to post unfair or ridiculous criticism they had received in their ministries. The responses flew in, and when I reposted it on Facebook my friends chimed in with theirs. It made me think of a few of my own.
For when one says ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal? — I Corinthians 3:4
I treasured that young couple in my church. They were attractive, friendly, and faithful. That’s why their letter was so stunning.
We hated you for most of this year. You took the place of the pastor we loved so much. But now, we are gradually coming to love you too.
I was not prepared for that. And here we are, many years removed from that moment, and I am recalling everything about this letter that landed like a blow to the solar plexus. (Note: If you write a love note to your pastor, please do not tell him what you did not like about him at first or how long it took to warm to him. He does not need to know the obstacles you worked through to come to this point.)
The other evening a stranger approached my wife in our church fellowship hall just before a Christmas program.