Church leader, be the kid brother in the room.

“He who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves” (Luke 22:26).

Raise your hand if you’re the kid brother in a large family.

If so, you have been given an insight into this teaching of the Lord that most people miss altogether.

Now, in our family Mom and Dad had four sons and two daughters.  I was the number three son, born between sisters Patricia and Carolyn.  Ron was (still is) the eldest and Charlie was the youngest.  (Charlie died in 2006 and Glenn in 2014.)

Growing up, since he was the eldest in our large household, Ron took the role of the assistant father.  Whether Dad established that rule or not and whether the rest of us liked it or not, when Dad was not around, Ron called the shots.  Once when we were small, some relative came to our house and gave each of us a nickel. By nightfall, Ron had all the nickels. He’d traded or cajoled or something to corner the market on McKeever nickels.

As the baby of the family, little Charlie caught the brunt of everything.  He wore the hand-me-downs and had little say in family decisions.

I still smile at this exchange between Ron and Charlie when they were something like 15 and 6, respectively.  Ron called out, “Charlie! Come here.”  The little kid reluctantly came near.

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What to do, pastor, when you are the victim of a rumor

“Why would you rather not be wronged?…..For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:7,20).

In 1990, after a preacher had served only seven months and tore the church up twice, I arrived as the new pastor.

I  was not the excited new kid on the block as with my previous moves. This was different.

I had endured a brutal three years in my former pastorate and thought perhaps the Lord wanted this broken church (to which I was coming) and this bruised pastor (moi!) to help one another heal.

Some years later, I learned a preacher in our area was telling people that I had torn up this church because of some serious immorality.

I sought him out and asked if he were really saying this.

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Let the pastor respect his people.

“We being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5).

Has the Lord ever spoken to you through your own words?

One morning recently, I posted the following on Facebook: Pastors, do not ever say that your people do not like change.  There are no 1947 Packards on your church parking lot. Even your seniors drive late-model cars, own flat-screen televisions, and are on the computer.  They do not mind change, so long as it’s not abrupt, not all at once, and not forced on them.  Pastor, respect your people and they may surprise you.

Where did that last sentence come from, I wondered as it flew off my fingers through the keyboard onto the screen.

That was a new thought.

“Pastors, respect your people.”

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Perhaps the greatest failing of godly pastor-husbands

Many a preacher who loves the Lord, enjoys his ministry, and seems to be doing well, wishes he had married differently.

His wife does not appreciate him sufficiently.

Give me a break.

Here’s what this looks like…..

Pastor Chuck is sold out to the Lord and completely committed to the ministry to which he was called.  The church he serves is doing well.  Everything is fine, except for one small thing….

His wife irritates him sometimes.

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Five facts about pastors most church members are unclear on

“Shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

In my experience, most pastors hesitate to teach the biblical understanding of the role of pastors because to do so might sound self-serving, as though they were trying to carve out a bigger role for themselves in leading the church.  This is a serious error for which we are now paying as many congregations are turning the minister into a hired hand, employing him as an errand boy, or treating him as an executive brought in to lead their “country club.”

Pastor, preach the whole Word of God.  Be bold in declaring its truth.  Then, having done this, go forth and set new standards for humbly serving the congregation.  Let them see you leading by serving and no one will ever mind calling you their pastorand following you.  However, lord it over them and dominate the decisions and no one who knows his Bible will want to follow you.

What follows is the truth on the role of pastors as taught in Scripture. It’s not “all” the truth, for this is but one simple article.  However, it cuts to the heart of the issues….

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When the pastor lives below the standard of his church leaders

Here’s a situation that might surprise some church members to know preachers deal with and that it is frequently a problem.

The pastor visits in the homes of his members and notices that they live more luxuriously than he and his family.  Their house is larger, built better, and is located in a classier neighborhood. They dress well, have a pool, and their cars are always the latest model.

The pastor and his wife notice these things; count on it. And as their children grow into the teen years, they also become aware that some in the church are wealthier than they.

Now, every family is different.  One would hope the pastor’s spouse and family are so intent on serving God in this community that material things are a distant second to them. You would hope they rejoice in the success some families enjoy, and let it go at that.

That’s not always the case. At times, the pastor and family come down with a severe case of “why not us, Lord?”  Also known in the medical books as “Why can’t we live the way they do?”

Here are a few thoughts on this issue.

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Meet my friends Jack and Marian.

(Be sure to read the postscript and the comments at the end.)

When Jack’s mother died, wife Marian realized that God finally had his attention.

Jack loved his mother, a godly woman whom he would never see again unless he changed his ways. Jack had no use for church and religion, but devoted all his weekends to hunting whatever was in season.

Marian asked a godly deacon in her church to pay Jack a visit. Dr. Norris Vest, dentist and devoted soulwinner, dropped in and led Jack to Christ.  That’s when Jack informed Marian he did not care to attend her church.  “Too big,” he said.

They’d heard me on the radio and decided to visit our church out at the edge of town.

I loved this little family from the start.  Jack and Marian had two small girls, Julie and Cindy, who fit right in with the children at our church.

Our friendship has now lasted over 45 years. Margaret and I saw Jack and Marian perhaps once or twice a decade, but we dropped the occasional note and always felt each other’s love.

But what I wanted to tell you is something very special God did with this couple. Well, one of the very special things.

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Forgiveness: Such a powerful concept

“….accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another.  Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).

For reasons I never fully understood the old gentleman carried around a load of bitterness, much of it directed toward me his pastor. In a business conference when we were discussing calling a young man as our youth director, the old man stood and poured out venom on the proceedings. He was clearly angry about something, all out of proportion to what we were discussing.

“I have no idea what it is between you and him,” said a man in his Sunday School class.  “Actually,” he continued, “he’s a good teacher. I like him.”

I knew a little of what had happened.  A year earlier, the gentleman was convinced that I had not spoken to him and his wife at a church function.  “You talked to everyone there except us.”  I was completely unaware of this and apologized, then drove across the city to his home and apologized to his wife. A sweet lady, she said it was nothing, that her husband was just being himself.

The man never turned it loose.  He now had a license to be angry at his preacher.

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Let the preacher not draw too much attention to himself

“…that in all things He might have preeminence in everything” (Colossians 1:18).

Let not the messenger boy think this is all about him.

I had a suspicion confirmed the other evening.

Over the years, I have made a point of memorizing scripture.  At this moment, I can quote Psalms 1, 23, and 103, as well as Romans 8, and a number of shorter passages.  There is nothing boastful about that. I should have retained more of what I worked to memorize through the years (which included Psalm 139, half of Hebrews and most of I Peter), but because I did not work at keeping it, have lost it from memory.

Okay.  But here’s the thing.

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The pictures we made at the hospital and cemetery

My daughter has been posting some photos which I would just as soon didn’t ever see the light of day.  It’s not that they’re bad pictures or that I don’t love the people in them.

They were shot either at the hospital where my wife lay on life support for six days or at the church in the luncheon following her funeral.  And they all have one terrible thing in common.

We’re all smiling.

I’ve noticed this in photographs our family has made in years past.  We would be at the funeral of my parents or a beloved aunt or uncle, and after the ceremonies have ended and people are milling around greeting one another or saying their farewells, someone breaks out a camera and begins grouping us.  And without fail, we do it.

We all smile.

I suppose it’s because we were taught from childhood if someone points a lens in our direction, we smile.  I certainly ask every person who sits before me to be sketched to smile.  Everyone looks better smiling, “including you,” I tell them.

But sometimes, it feels like a smile is out of place.

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