How to Gain a Perspective to Enrich Your Life

How do yThanksLiving-2.1ou gain a perspective to enrich your life? I answer this question in my new book, ThanksLiving.

This new book is the result of research on the subject of gratefulness. It shows some of the latest neuroscience and studies in the world of social sciences, and also teaches what the Bible says on thankfulness. I was quite surprised to learn how God even puts a premium on being thankful!  ThanksLiving is not merely for the seasons or holiday of Thanksgiving, but shows you how to develop habits of the heart to enrich you in your daily walk.

It is now available as an eBook for $0.99 on Amazon.com. The print version will be available by the end of December 2015.

Check out a review by a fellow author, Rebecca Livermore:

One thing that I appreciate about this book is that the author isn’t Mr. Pollyanna. By his own admission, gratitude, and “looking on the bright side” doesn’t come naturally to him. I appreciate this because it means that the things he writes about being thankful hold true for anyone, regardless of temperament.

In addition to drawing deep from the Bible, Owsley also shares his findings on gratitude that are based on research of the brain, and from studies by sociologists, psychologists, and more. At the same time he admits that you can’t believe and accept everything and therefore looks at and evaluates all he’s gathered in his studies through the lens of Scripture.

As stated in the introduction, “the point of ThanksLiving is to be informative on the matter of thankfulness and its influence on a more enriched life. Even more, the purpose is to offer you tools to help develop positive skills to enhance relationships, foster happiness, and grow contentedness.” I feel like Owsley delivered on that promise, and that if you desire a life that is enriched as a result of being more thankful you’ll benefit from reading this book. Highly recommended.

A free eBook, How to Appreciate Others in 12 Meaningful Ways is a free download at Relavate.org.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Excerpts from The Present Future by Reggie McNeal

Below are some excerpts from Reggie McNeal’s book, The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church.  I have found this book to be challenging and provocative, but at the same time so much of what the author writes resonates with my heart.  Read the quotes below and see what you think.

– D. Thomas Owsley

____________________________________________________________

The current church culture in North America is on life support. It is living off the work, money, and energy of previous generations from a previous world order. The plug will be pulled either when the money runs out (80 percent of money given to congregations comes from people aged fifty-five and older) or when the remaining three-fourths of a generation who are institutional loyalists die off or both. (Kindle location 241)

The imminent demise under discussion is the collapse of the unique culture in North America that has come to be called “church.” This church culture has become confused with biblical Christianity, both inside the church and out. (Kindle location 246)

In reality, the church culture in North America is a vestige of the original movement, an institutional expression of religion that is in part a civil religion and in part a club where religious people can hang out with other people whose politics, worldview, and lifestyle match theirs. (Kindle location 247)

So far the North American church largely has responded with heavy infusions of denial, believing the culture will come to its senses and come back around to the church. (Kindle location 256)

What does this spell for the church in the future? Armed with this information, of course, churches are launching an all-out effort to reach gen Xers. I wish! Most churches have actually just written them off, waiting for them to grow up and learn to like what the church has to offer. (Kindle location 275)

evidence that the respondents were born-again (the evangelical definition of one’s being a Christian) yielded the following results: builders (born before 1946)- 65 percent; boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)—35 percent; busters (born between 1965 and 1976)—15 percent; bridgers (born between 1976 and 1994)—4 percent. Those interviewed in the bridger category were at least seventeen years old. (Kindle location 289)

What about retention rates? Dawson McAlister, national youth ministry specialist, says that 90 percent of kids active in high school youth groups do not go to church by the time they are sophomores in college. (Kindle location 293)

90 percent of kids active in high school youth groups do not go to church by the time they are

sophomores in college. One-third of these will never return. This rate of disconnection indicates a dilemma far more serious than mere youthful rebellion. (Kindle location 294)

One-third of these will never return. This rate of disconnection indicates a dilemma far more serious than mere youthful rebellion. (Kindle location 294)

Having retreated into a diminishing corner for several hundreds of years, the North American church culture unfortunately now reflects the materialism and secularism of the modern era. (Kindle location 318)

Not only do we not need God to explain the universe, we don’t need God to operate the church. Many operate like giant machines, with church leaders serving as mechanics. God doesn’t have to show up to get done what’s being done. The culture does not want the powerless God of the modern church. (Kindle location 320)

Church activity is a poor substitute for genuine spiritual vitality. (Kindle location 344)

The fallout from this frenetic effort to run in place is staggering in every direction. Consider the burnout of many ministers who struggle with the increase of expectations on the part of church members. (Kindle location 345)

Consider burnout of many ministers who struggle with the increase of expectations on the part of church members. Many men and women who entered the ministry with a clear sense of call to make a difference feel overwhelmed, bewildered, defeated, and generally underprepared for the challenges they face. Having packed their bags for the journey of the church age, they now have no idea what should be in their leadership backpack for the current excursion. (Kindle location 346)

Many men and women who entered the ministry with a clear sense of call to make a difference feel overwhelmed, bewildered, defeated, and generally underprepared for the challenges they face. Having packed their bags for the journey of the church age, they now have no idea what should be in their leadership backpack for the current excursion. (Kindle location 346)

Trouble is, we don’t have much evidence to support the assumption that all this church activity has produced more mature followers of Jesus. It has produced many tired, burned-out members who find that their lives mimic the lives and dilemmas of people in the culture who don’t pay all the church rent. (Kindle 356)

Those with a refuge mentality view the world outside the church as the enemy. Their answer is to live inside the bubble in a Christian subculture complete with its own entertainment industry. Evangelism in this worldview is about churching the unchurched, not connecting people to Jesus. (Kindle location 367)

It focuses on cleaning people up, changing their behavior so Christians (translation: church people) can be more comfortable around them. Refuge churches evidence enormous self-preoccupation. (Kindle location 369)

The point is, all the effort to fix the church misses the point. You can build the perfect church—and they still won’t come. (Kindle location 383)

People are not looking for a great church. They do not wake up every day wondering what church they can make successful. The age in which institutional religion holds appeal is passing away—and in a hurry.  (Kindle location 384)

Church leaders seem unable to grasp this simple implication of the new world—people outside the church think church is for church people, not for them. (Kindle location 390)

We may have saturated the market of people who want to be a part of the church culture, who want church the way we do it in North America. (Kindle location 391)

North American Christians think in terms of its institutional expression, the church, as opposed to thinking about Christianity in terms of a movement. (Kindle location 397).

In North America the invitation to become a Christian has become largely an invitation to convert to the church. (Kindle location 401)

The assumption is that anyone serious about being a Christian will order their lives around the church, shift their life and work rhythms around the church schedule, channel their charitable giving through the church, and serve in some church ministry; in other words, serve the church and become a fervent marketer to bring others into the church to do the same. (Kindle location 402)

They believe the church is out for itself, looking out more for the institution than for people. (Kindle 418)

At Sinai, God delivered an assignment to his people. They were to tell the whole world about God and convince the world of his love for them. Unfortunately, Israel never quite grasped that their “chosen” status was for the sake of the mission. It incurred responsibility, not just secured the enjoyment of privileged position. (Kindle location 448)

The North American church is suffering from severe mission amnesia. It has forgotten why it exists. The church was created to be the people of God to join him in his redemptive mission in the world. The church was never intended to exist for itself. (Kindle location 470)

He defined the litmus test for genuine spirituality in terms of one’s relationships—our relationships with God and with other people. (Kindle location 496)

The movement Jesus initiated had power because it had at its core a personal life-transforming experience. (Kindle location 500)

The correct response, then, to the collapse of the church culture is not to try to become better at doing church. This only feeds the problem and hastens the church’s decline through its disconnect from the larger culture. The need is not for a methodological fix. The need is for a missional fix.(kindle location 512)

The appropriate response to the emerging world is a rebooting of the mission, a radical obedience to an ancient command, a loss of self rather than self-preoccupation, concern about service and sacrifice rather than concern about style. (Kindle location 514)

With rare exception the “growth” here was the cannibalization of the smaller membership churches by these emerging superchurches. (Kindle location 570)

Under the all-growth-is-good mantra, some unscrupulous and spiritually suspect methodologies have been employed to “get the numbers up.” The rise of the celebrity-status church culture (not the child of the church growth movement, but a development of a church culture parallel to American pop culture) has created thousands of “losers,” pastors and church leaders who are not serving in high-profile, high-growth churches. Consequently, a large part of the leadership of the North American church suffers from debilitation and even depression fostered by a lack of significance. The army of God has a lot of demoralized leaders. (Kindle location 575)

Lilly study released in 2002 found that one-half of churchgoers attended churches in the top 10 percent of church size. The tithe of members in these churches buys a lot more value-added experiences and services than it does in small congregations. (Kindle location 594)

The North American church culture is not spiritual enough to reach our culture. In our self-absorption we don’t even see the people we are supposed to be on mission to reach. Don’t hear this as a call to a “deeper-life” spirituality. Often this “spirituality” is just another expression of refuge thinking (allowing Christians to hide out in Bible study). I am talking about a missional spirituality. Missional spirituality requires that God’s people be captured by his heart for people, that our hearts be broken for what breaks his, that we rejoice in what brings him joy (see Luke 15).  (Kindle location 638)

The Pharisees were monoculturalists (all religious fanatics are). Monoculturalism does not embrace kingdom growth, because it insists that people conform to a cultural standard in order to gain admittance to the religious club. (Kindle location 696)

Jesus’ strategy was to go where people were already hanging out. This is why he went to weddings, parties, and religious feast day celebrations. (Kindle location 766)

Another reason we are reluctant witnesses results from our evangelism strategies. The mental model that many church members have for doing evangelism is for them to act like telemarketers. I mean, how popular are these people? Telemarketers interrupt you with a marketing message about a product you haven’t asked for and try to get their spiel out before you hang up on them. Then, if you do happen to buy what they’re selling, they pass you along to some customer service person who may or may not be actually connected to the company the telemarketer is pushing. Sound familiar yet? How many “evangelism programs” have you encountered in which sharing the gospel assumes no relationship with the customer and Jesus is sold like soap? (Kindle location 797)

They were willing to hear them out.  Do you know why? Because the New Yorkers were persuaded that Cathy and her fellow cleaners believed something so strongly that it had caused them to inconvenience themselves in service to people. (Kindle location 814)

These responses show clear evidence of the spiritual awakening that is occurring in the streets. But since the church is absent from the streets, people are turning to all kinds of false answers to their spiritual quest. Church members then have the gall to sit inside the church and pass judgment on people for their errant beliefs! (Kindle location 867)

Turning members into ministers hasn’t worked for another reason. Church members don’t want to do what they see many ministers doing. On the one hand, when they see ministers being where the action is, helping people, turning lives around, partnering with God’s work in the world, they line up. On the other hand, too many church members view clergy as professional ministers who have been cranked out by the church industry to manage church stuff. They have not been exposed to church leaders who are leaders of a movement. Instead, they are familiar only with institutional managers.   (Kindle location 945)

“There’s no way I would do what you do, putting up with the complaints of church members.” What does this tell you? Many laypeople see ministers’ roles as the complaint department for disgruntled club members who want to be catered to. Church members who want to live missional lives don’t want to be captured by the same concerns of club members that tie up their staff ministers. (Kindle 949)

Laypeople see the disconnect in the “every member a minister” strategy. They are voting by not lending their time, energy, and money to ministry “vision” that has the church as the primary beneficiary or recipient. Church has become increasingly irrelevant to their workaday and home lives. Church ministry to them is an add-on activity to an already crowded life. They wonder why God can’t use them where he has already embedded them—in their homes, workplaces, schools, and communities.(Kindle location 966)

This is what life in the church bubble can do to you. It shrink-wraps your vision down to the size of your church. (Kindle location 988)

The point is not to adopt the culture and lose the message; the point is to understand the culture so we can build bridges to it for the sake of gaining a hearing for the gospel of Jesus. (Kindle location 1027)

I think a lot of church leaders and church members are intimidated by all the God-interest in the culture at large. I think we don’t know how to hold conversations about God. We’ve only been taught to sell our brand of religion. We are so intent on convincing people that their life is screwed up, their faith is wrong, their beliefs messed up, and so forth, that we demand what we offer anymore. In fact, many people outside of the church are more spiritually passionate and enthusiastic about God than many church members. They no longer need our kind of convincing. (Kindle location 1168)

A missionary church culture will need to begin keeping score on things different from what we measure now. These may include how many ministry initiatives we are establishing in the streets, how many conversations we are having with pre-Christians, how many volunteers we are releasing into local and global mission projects aimed at community transformation, how many congregations are starting to reach different populations, how manyTop of FormBottom of Form congregations use our facilities, how many languages (ethnic and generational) we worship in, how many community groups use our facilities, how many church activities target people who aren’t here yet, how many hours per week members spend in ministry where they work, go to school, and get mail. (Kindle location 1278)

Instead of dumping a packet of church club member stuff on them, why not interview them about what they would like to see happen in their lives in terms of their spiritual development and personal growth? (Kindle location 1407)

The Y staff would never say, “He’s a faithful and committed member” and consider it a success if I showed up regularly but didn’t exercise. Yet we do this all the time in the church culture. (Kindle location 1450)

The deal is this: we have assumed that if people come to church often enough they will grow.  (Kindle location 1471) …“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me” ( John 5:39) (Kindle location 1486)

In the modern world, how would we typically approach the spiritual learning objectives we’ve just identified? We’d write a curriculum, produce a conference, convene a class, create a study course, recruit a teacher or other expert, sign people up, teach the material to the students, and pass out completion certificates. Then we would wonder what would happen or change as a result of the experience. The truth is that we have very little evidence that academic or conferential learning changes behavior. (Kindle location 1522).

Helping people grow, particularly in the arena of spiritual formation, is about unpacking life: challenging our emotional responses that are destructive (envy, hatred, bitterness); challenging our biases (racial prejudice, social and economic elitism, intellectual snobbery); challenging our assumptions (“my needs are the most important”); challenging our responses; unpacking our frustrations, our hopes, our dreams, and our disappointments; bringing life to God rather than teaching about God, somehow hoping to get him into our life. Kindle location 1557)

Curriculum-driven is artificial; life-driven is organic. Curriculum-driven is arbitrary; life-driven is circumstantially sensitive. Curriculum-driven is categorical; life-driven is personal. I am not suggesting that curriculum has no place. It does. In my experience with small groups, curriculum does help to convene the spirit of the learners to focus the discussion or prompt a place to begin. Curriculum in its best use provides a stage upon which learners can launch their own life stories for review and learning. I believe in the power of community in learning, particularly in helping us make behavioral applications of what we learn. That is why I am such a proponent of small groups. The consistent challenge I run into when discussing small groups is the prevalent notion that small groups should function primarily in a curriculum mode (a Bible study, text-driven experience). This is why groups can move from one curriculum piece to another and never experience any real growth. (Kindle location 1557)

Effective groups where people grow allow people to declare to each other what is going on in their lives, what they’d like to see going on in their lives, and what kind of help and accountability they need to move toward their hopes and away from their frustrations. This brings life to the table, not a book! (Kindle location 1560)

Churches are so busy getting people involved at the church that they’ve neglected this fundamental agenda of spiritual formation. (Kindle location 1597)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

THE ELDER’S (and Pastor’s) RESPONSIBILITIES AND DUTIES

Keep watch over yourselves,

Keep watch over the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians;

To feed the Church of the Lord which he won for himself by his own blood.

Savage wolves will come in among you, therefore be alert.

                                                                                 Acts 20:28-31

.

There are three primary divisions of the elder’s (ruling and teaching elder)

responsibilities and duties. Listed in order of priority, they first to God, secondly

to himself, and finally toward others. All too often members in a church reverse

the order, only to the detriment of their personal and corporate well-being in Christ.

.

A. The elder is responsible to serve the Lord first

  1. The elder must exercise a saving faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord

(1 Thess. 1:9; Heb. 9:11-14).

2.   The elder’s first priority is to serve the Lord first and foremost, before he

serves people. (Acts 20:19; Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4; Eph. 6:6-7;

Col. 3:22-24). He serves God’s people by serving and answering to

the Lord first and doing so for the glory of God (Deut. 10:12; Josh.

24:14, 15; 1 Cor. 10:31; 15:58; Eph. 6:7; Heb. 12:28; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).

a. This was clearly the pattern of God’s true prophets, priests and kings

(1 Chron. 28:9; 2 Chron. 12:8; 34:33).

b.  This was also the pattern of Jesus Christ who always did His

Father’s will  (Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:8; John 8:26-28).

c.  This was the pattern of the Apostles

(Acts 4:5-21; 27:23; 1 Cor. 15:58; Col. 3:23; 1 Thess. 1:9; 2 Tim.

1:3; Heb. 12:28).

3.   He is to live for Christ

a. Never to be ashamed of Jesus Christ (2 Tim 1:8-11; 2:11-13)

b. His focus is to always be upon Christ (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:21;

2 Tim 2:8-13)

c.  He will suffer for Christ (Lk. 21:19; 2 Tim. 2:3-7; 3:10-12).

.

B. The elder is responsible to keep his life right in relationship to the Lord

1.  All believers are called upon to keep their lives right before God

(Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 4:16;   Gal. 5:17-25; Eph. 4:23-24; Col. 3:10;

Phil. 2:12-13; 1 Thess. 4:1-12; 2 Tim. 2:19-21; 2 Pet. 3:1-11).

They are to be faithful stewards of Christ and are accountable to Him

through a biblically balanced life (1 Cor. 4:1-2; 9:17; Col. 1:25f).

2.   This is all the more true for pastors, elders, and deacons too.  The

admonition to Timothy is applicable to those who take on the yoke

of ministry, that the elder must guard and maintain his life, piety and

gifts (Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 4:14-16; 2 Tim. 2:19-21) so that he might

have the proper capacity to serve others through Christ

(2 Tim. 2:1, 6, 15; 3:16-17). And he should practice and devote himself

to godliness in Christ so that others will see progress in his walk

(1 Tim. 4:15). This is what Thomas Murphy means when he says that

“The conversion of souls and the prosperity of the Church depend on

the degree of the pastor’s piety” (Murphy, 1877/1996, p. 47).

The purpose of taking care of his life in Christ is not for self-

actualization or other self-serving goals but rather so that he may

be of greater service to others. While this might seem odd, a

properly oriented life that is saturated with God through Christ

is a far better blessing to others. This is because the greater, more

expansive capacity one has for God the greater his capacity for a

fruitful ministry.

Jesus is a model of one who, though sinless, maintained and

nurtured his relationship with the Father, to understand God’s will

and to be strengthened from on high in order to accomplish all that

God set for him to do. He always made it a priority to spend time

with the Father before serving others.

3.  The elder is called to train and discipline himself for godliness (1 Tim.

4:7-11) so as to become more and more like Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:18;

1 Tim. 4:14-16; 6:11; Ti. 2:12; 2 Pet. 1:4). After all, the elder is to

“incarnate” and model the life of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 12:18; 1 Thess.

2:10-12; 1 Tim. 4:12; 1 Pet. 5:3); and this is very profitable (1 Tim. 6:6).

At minimum this would include the nurture and improvement of the

godly character required of him according to 1 Timothy 3:1-9 and

Titus 1:5-9;  but he should also cultivate and strengthen other qualities

God desires of him as Christ’s under-shepherd such as, but not limited to:

a. Humility (Acts 20:19; 1 Cor. 10:12).

b. Being free of or fleeing the love of money (1 Tim. 3:3; 6:7-11).

c. Being a vessel of honor that is set apart from sin (2 Tim. 2:20-21)

(1) Actively pursuing biblical righteousness, godliness, faith, love,

perseverance, and gentleness (1 Tim. 6:11).

(2) Fleeing youthful lusts, pursuing righteousness, faith, love

(2 Tim 2:22).

d. Fearing no one or nothing except God (Deut. 10:12; Eccles. 12:13;

Psa. 118:6; Isa. 12:2; 2 Tim. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:17; 2:17).

e.  Being sober-minded about everything (2 Tim. 4:5).

f.  Maintaining a clear conscience before the Lord  (2 Cor 11:31).

4.   He is to put to use the good gift(s) God has placed upon him.  In fact,

he is called upon to fan the flame or rekindle the gift(s) of God in his life

(1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6).

5.  The elder is to saturate his life with and properly handle God’s Word

(1 Tim. 5:17; 2 Tim. 3:14-16).

a.   Always growing in grace and truth (2 Pet. 3:18).

b.   Holding fast to and be nourished on the Word of God

(1 Tim 4:6; 2 Tim. 1:13; 3:14-17; Ti. 1:9).

c.  Rightly handling God’s Word so as to be approved (2 Tim. 2:15).

d.  Contending for the truth of God’s Word (1 Tim. 1:18-19).

e.  Guarding the truth (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:12-14).

6.  He should bear fruit (Jn. 15:8; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 2:8-10; Col. 1:10;

Ti. 2:7; 3:8, 14)

7.  He is to take care of his physical life (1 Tim 5:23).

8.  He should not be concerned about the judgments of others (1 Cor. 4:1-5),

neither should he compare himself with others (1 Cor. 3; 2 Cor.

10:12-16). At the same time he should defend a biblical and righteous

ministry in the cause of Christ against false accusations

(1 Cor. 1:6-23; 2:4, 17; 3:6, 12; 4:1-8; 5:14, 21; 1 Tim. 4:12)

9.  He must keep his family life in order (1 Tim. 3:4-5; Ti. 1:6)

10. Finally, he and others must understand that his life and ministry is

a living sacrifice to God (Phil. 2:17; 2 Tim. 4:6; 2 Sam. 24:24;

Acts 20:24; 21:13; Phil. 3:7-8).

.

C. After serving God and attending to his life in Christ

the pastor or elder then serves others, particularly

God’s people

1.  The pastor or elder serves through self-sacrifice (Jn. 10:11, 15; cp.

Lk 10:34,35) as a faithful steward of God’s ministry (1 Cor. 4:1-2;

Ti. 1:7), in a manner like Jesus Christ (Matt. 20:25-28; 23:11-12;

Mark 10:43,44; Luke 22:26-27; John 13:1-20).

2.  He prays for others (Acts 6:4; Col. 1:9)

a.  His priority is to pray, especially for God’s people (Acts 6:4; Col. 1:9)

b. He prays for those who are not believers in Christ (1 Tim. 2:1-8)

3.  As an undershepherd to the Great Shepherd he pastors through God’s

Word (Jn. 21:15ff; 1 Pet. 5:1ff); ministering the Word of God (Mk. 6:34b;

Rev. 7:17; 1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Thess. 5:12; Col. 1:28; Jas. 3:1) in a variety of

ways. In fact, the bulk and thrust of his labors is in the power of God’s

Spirit through the Word of God.

a. Publicly reading, preaching, explaining and applying Scriptures

is what the teaching elder does (1 Cor. 1:17; 1 Tim. 4:13-14)

b.  The teaching elder preaches in season and out of season reproving,

rebuking and exhorting (2 Tim. 4:1-2).

c.  The elder teaches boldly the Word of God (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 6:34;

Acts 20:20; 1 Cor. 12:28, 31; Col. 1:28; 1 Tim. 1:3; 3:2, 16; 4:11-12;

6:2-5; James 3:1 Rev. 7:17) in  these and other areas:

(1) Teaching apostolic truth, particularly to faithful men who

would teach others the same (2 Tim. 2:2)

(2) Teaching godliness in Christ (1 Tim. 5:24-6:6)

(3) Teaching older men to be sober, reverent, self-controlled,

sound in faith, sound in love, and patient (Ti. 2:1-2)

(4) Teaching the rich to be rich in good works and generosity

(1 Tim. 6:17-19)

d. He feeds God’s people in the Truth (1 Pet. 5:2).

e. Edifies or builds believers up in Christ (2 Cor. 13:10-11; Eph 4:12-16).

f.  Convicts the contrary (2 Tim. 2:25; Ti. 1:9).

g. Brings comfort to hearers of the Word (1 Cor. 14:3, 31; 2 Cor. 1:4-6;

1 Thess. 4:18).

h. Confronts Sin (1Tim 5:1-2; Gal. 6:1)

(1) Warning of the consequences of sin (Acts 20:31).

(2) Rebuking sin (2 Tim. 4:1-2; Ti 1:13; 2:15).

i. Admonishes wayward believers to obey God’s Word (2 Thess. 3:15).

j. Exhorts or confronts the opposition with sound doctrine in love

(1 Cor. 13:1; Eph. 4:15; 2 Tim. 2:24-26).

4.   To train them in spiritual warfare, resisting Satan and calling them to

their role as  godly warriors (2 Cor. 11:13-15; Eph. 6:10-18; Jas. 4:7;

1 Pet. 5:8-9).

5.  The teaching elder (even the ruling elder) delegates administrative tasks

of lesser priorities for his vocation to others, such as the deacons, in

order to concentrate on the ministries of prayer and the Word of God

(Act 6:1-7).

6.  The teaching elder’s godly office created by Christ (2 Cor. 3:9; 4:6).  He

is  responsible with other elders in the church to perpetuate the office

with sound, godly and faithful men who are gifted, called, and qualified

(1 Tim. 1:11; 3:1-7; 4:14). The office must be perpetuated through the

laying on of hands by ordained elders of the church (Acts 6:6; 13:3;

14:23; 19:6; 1 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 1:6).

7.   He must always keep before him the goal(s) of his God-ordained

ministry:

a.  To equip the saints to do the work of ministry (Eph. 4:11-12) in

the faithful exercise of their gifts (1 Cor. 12; Rom. 12).

b.  To form Jesus Christ in the community of God’s people through

love (Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21; 4:13; Col 1:224-29; 1 Thess. 3:11-13;

1 Tim. 1:5) until that community is a like one mature man who

lives:

(1) In the unity of the Faith (Eph. 4:13)

(2) In an intimate full-knowledge of the Son of God, deeply in

love with Christ and becoming more like him in every way

(Eph. 4:13)

(3) In truth that is spoken and expressed through love (Eph. 4:15).

.

D. The pastor’s or elder’s duties are enumerated through

the many roles he has:

 1. As a self-sacrificing servant (Matt. 20:27; John 10:11, 15; Lk. 10:34, 35;

1 Cor. 4:1)

a. Of God (2 Cor. 6:4; Ti. 1:1, 7) and of Christ (Phil. 1:1; 2 Tim. 2:24)

b. Of God’s people (2 Cor. 4:5)

c.  Who serves God and his church with diligence (Rom. 12:8; 1 Thess.

5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:15).

2.  As a loving shepherd of the flock of God (Jer. 3:15; John 21:15ff;

Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-2)

a. Who leads (Mark 6:34) and guides (Matt. 2:6; Acts 7:10, 14;

Heb. 3:7, 17, 24)

b.  Who protects (Acts 20:28-30; Jn. 10:12; Ti. 1:9; 2:1;

Eph. 4:14; 1 Pet. 5:8; 1 Jn. 4:1-3)

(1)  From enemies within (2 Tim. 2:16-18; Jude 12f).

(2)  From enemies without (Mt. 13:24f; 2 Cor. 11:12-15).

3.   As a priest, though a believer-priest like all other believers he

a.  Intercedes and prays for God’s people  (e.g.: 1 Sam. 12:23; Acts

12:5-9, 12;  Rom. 10:1; Eph. 1:18; Col. 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:1, 2; Jas. 5:16)

b. Serves as a leader in worship.

4.   As a peacemaker or reconciler (Matt. 5:9; 2 Cor. 5:18-19).

5.   As a preacher of the gracious Good News of Christ (Rom. 10:14;

2 Pet. 2:5).

6.   As a professor-teacher (see above)

7.   As a parent

a.  Like a father (Matt. 13:52; 1 Cor. 4:12-21; 1 Thess. 2:10-12;

1 Tim. 3:5; Philem. 10).

(1) Who sees to it with fellow elders and the deacons that widows

in need are taken care of (Acts 6:1ff; 1 Tim. 3:5-16;

James 1:27)

(2) Who also oversees with elders and deacons the needs of

orphans (James 1:27).

(3)  Who, with the elders through the service of the deacons, takes

care of the needy in the church (Luke 14:13; Acts 2:45; 4:35;

Rom. 15:26; Gal. 2:10; Eph. 4:28; James 2:2-6)

b.  And like a mother who gives birth (Isa. 66:7; 1 Thess. 5:3) and who

nurses (1 Thess. 2:7)

c. A nurturer and disciplinarian (Matt. 18; 2 Cor. 7:8-13)

8.  As a model of godliness   (Psa. 101:2; 1 Cor. 4:6; 11:1; Phil. 3:17;

1 Thess. 1:6; 2:10-11; 2 Thess. 3:7, 9; 1 Tim. 4:12; Ti. 2:7;

Heb. 12:2; 13:7; 1 Pet. 2:11-25; 5:3; 1 Jn. 2:6; etc.).

9.  As a ruler with fellow elders over Christ’s church (1 Thess. 5:12, 13;

1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:17), he is responsible for:

a. Overseeing the church of Christ (1 Tim. 3:4, 5, 12; Rom. 12:8)

b.  Exercising judicial discipline (Matt. 18:15-19; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 5;

1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 1 Tim. 5:20; 6:3; Ti. 1:13; 2:15; 3:10;

Rev. 2:2, 14, 15, 20)

c.   Ruling with Christ’s authority, but not lording it over God’s people

(Matt. 20:25-26; Mk. 10:42-43; 1 Pet. 5:3).

10. As an evangelist and disciple “maker” (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 20:21; 21:8;

1 Tim. 5:22; 2 Tim. 4:5; Ti. 1:5)

a. By faithful testimony of Christ in life and lip (Acts 20:21;

1 Thess. 2:2)

b. By giving, declaring, and teaching the Good News of Jesus Christ

 (Rom. 3:21-28; 11:6; Gal. 3:1-9; 1 Pet. 4)

11. The elder is also described in roles as a messenger (2 Cor. 8:23),

a good worker (2 Cor. 6:1; Phil. 2:25), a soldier (Phil. 2:25;

2 Tim. 2:3-4), an athlete (1 Cor. 9:24-25; Phil. 3:14; 2 Tim. 2:5; 4:7-8;

Heb. 12:1) and a farmer (2 Tim. 2:6).

.

(Taken from The Perfect Pastor? by D. Thomas Owsley)

Leave a comment

Filed under Church Leadership, Elders, Pastoring

What are the Priorities, Purpose and Duties of an Elder?

A.  God gifts, calls, and ordains a man to an office that has certain Biblicalduties and tasks.

     There are three images in the New Testament for the office of elder:
     1. He is a father of the household of God (Matt. 13:52; 1 Tim. 3:5).
     2. He is a shepherd of God’s flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2).
     3. He is a co-ruler in God’s assembly (Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Thess. 5:12, 13),
          and therefore do so.
 
B.  As a man called to the office of elder he has certain priorities:
     1. To serve the Lord first of all
          (Acts 20:19; Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4; Eph. 6:6-7; Col. 3:22-24).
          a.  Reflected in the highest emphasis of studying and serving God’s
               Word and devoted to prayer (Acts 6:4 20:20,27).
          b.  Along with the other elders he is to confront opposition with sound
               teaching 
                   (Eph. 4:15).
          c.   He serves the Word and hence help to feed the flock of God (1 Pet. 2, 5).
 
     2.  The elder serves the congregation:
          a.    It is obvious that his priority in church is to equip the saints for service 
                 (Eph. 4:11,12).
          b.    He also, along with the elders, warns of the consequences of sin
                 (Col. 1:28-29).
           c.  The elders priority is to arm God’s people for spiritual warfare
                 (2 Cor. 11:13ff;  Eph. 6).
 
C.  As an elder there are certain functions and duties required:
     1. To be an example to the flock of God (Ti. 2:7,8; Heb. 13:7; 1 Pet. 5:3)
          a.  He is to be an example of a godly life (1 Tim. 4:6).
               (1) By keeping himself right with God
                    (a) By guarding his life (Acts 20:28).
                    (b) By walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16).
                    (c) By growing in grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).
                    (d) Through active, regular prayer and study (Acts 6:4;
                             1 Tim. 4:13-16; 2 Tim. 2:15).
                    (e) Through proper delegation of certain tasks to deacons (Acts 6).
                    (f) By separating from selfish interests (Acts 20:33-35; Rom. 13:8).
               (2)   He holds himself in a wise and biblical balance
                    (a) Keeping his home in order (1 Tim. 3:4-5).
                    (b) Being a good steward (1 Cor. 4:1-2; 9:17; Col. 1:24-25).
                    (c) Through the study-appropriation of God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15).
                    (d) As true sacrifices unto the Lord (Phil. 2:17; 2 Tim. 4:6; Acts 20:24;
                             31:13; Phil. 3:7-8).
 
          b. He is also to be an example to the flock in knowledge and application
              of biblical doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16).
 
     2.  He is to be a sound teacher of the Word of God (Mk. 6:34b; 1 Cor. 12:28,31;
           Col. 1:28; 1 Tim. 3:2; 5:17; Ti. 1:9; Jas. 3:1; Rev. 7:17).
 
     3.  As a shepherd of God’s flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-2):
          a.  He comforts the sheep, nourishes them with compassion
               (Matt. 9:36; Mk. 6:34; Jas. 5:14)
          b.  He is engaged in protecting the congregation
                (Jn. 10:11,15; Acts 20:28-30; Ti. 1:9; Eph. 4:14; Heb. 13:17)
                (1)   From outer enemies (2 Cor. 11:12-15)
                (2)   From inner enemies (2 Tim. 2:16-18; Jude 12-13)
 
     4.  He is a godly ruler (Heb. 13:7,17; 1 Thess. 5:12-13; 1 Tim. 5:17)
          a. Through the proper interpretation and application of Scripture to life
              within the Church.
          b. By making provisions for the good order and well being of the church.
          c. By exercising the keys of biblical discipline (nurture and chastisement)
                   (Matt. 18:15-18).
           d. By not lording it over God’s people.
 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ten Things Not to Do to Your Pastor

1. Don’t love your pastor more than you love the Lord God.

2. Don’t idolize or worship your pastor. He is neither God nor Messiah.

3. Don’t be a living contradiction to the name and person of Jesus Christ in you. Don’t be a hypocrite, trying to convince your pastor that you are “good” and wonderful believer when you are thinking and behaving like the devil.

4. Don’t overwork your pastor.
Don’t rely too heavily upon him either.

5. Don’t neglect the honor and respect, duty and obedience you owe the pastor in Christ that is concordant with God’s Word.

6. Don’t kill your pastor.
I could write a book, “1001 Easy Ways to Kill Off Your Pastor!” Of course, I don’t mean physically murdering the minister; though that has happened. I mean to say, don’t murder him by mouth through gossip or slander. Don’t beat him into the ground with the innumerable ways people can verbally assault the minister. It is also possible to over work the pastor or place too much stress upon him.

7. Don’t allow your pastor or put your pastor in a situation that could tempt him or provoke him to immoral, unchaste thoughts, words, or deeds.

8. Don’t steal from your pastor.
Don’t rob him of his devotional time, study time, down time, family time, or vacation time. Don’t rob him of the double honor he is due. Pay him well so that he may be free from material concerns. Don’t forbid him to exercise his God-given talents and gifts. Too often ministers are pressured or commanded not to do the things they are talented, equipped or find pleasure in doing.

9. Don’t injure the pastor’s good name, and don’t lie to him.

10. Don’t covet another pastor when you have God’s minister in your midst; and do not compare or contrast him with other pastors, especially high profile, popular ones.

Here is a quick way to discourage or defeat your pastor: compare him with another minister or leader. It doesn’t matter who. It could be a previous pastor, a celebrity, or even a famous dead one. Just don’t compare! It’s demeaning and demoralizing when you communicate that your pastor isn’t like Pastor X in preaching, or Pastor Y in serving, or Pastor Z in personality. If you love that other minister so much that you have little room for the pastor the Lord has provided you and your church, then pack your bags and go where your hero is serving.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Required Character of a Church Leader

(Especially for Deacons, Elders and Pastors)

There were certain qualifications given to the godly leader in the Old Testament. He had to possess the credentials of godly character (Ex. 18:21;Deut. 1:13). He had to have a spiritual disposition and enablement from the Lord, and he had to possess an authorized call or election to the office.

In the New Testament, God requires His offices be filled by male believer-priests who manifest the right equipment (Rom. 12:8; 1 Cor. 12:11, 28; Eph. 4:11f), the right motivation (Phil 2:13; 1 Tim. 3:1) and the right qualities (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Ti. 1:5-9).

Right Equipment
That is, they have the right gifts for the job. God endows these men with certain gifts and gives the men to His church (Mk. 16:15-18; Lk. 21:15; 24:49; Acts 1:8; 1 Tim. 5:22; 3:1-7; Ti. 1:7). He must be gifted and able to exhort (1 Thess. 2:11,12), lead (1 Cor. 12:28; 1 Thess. 5:12, 13; 1 Tim. 3:5; 5:17), serve (Acts 20:24f; Rom.15:26-33), share his resources with others (Acts 4; Eph. 4:28),  and show mercy (Matt. 25; 1 Cor. 12:28).

Right Motivation
What we mean is that he has the inward call from God. He is responsive to the gifting and the call of the Holy Spirit in his life (Acts 20:28), and hence he desires (1 Tim. 3:1) the office. His motives are biblical and Christ-like (1 Peter 5:1ff).

Not only does one have the inward call of God, but  the community of  God must recognize his call as a qualified and legitimate call (Acts 6). He cannot merely assume that because he may be gifted and has that inner motive that he can assume the office of elder. He must also be properly called of God through the means of God’s church (Jer. 23:32; Rom. 10:15; Heb. 5:4).

Right Qualities or Character of a Godly Leader
As Kevin Reed points out, “these qualities focus upon the three important aspects of a man’s life: his moral behavior, his knowledge of Christian doctrine, and his family life. An elder continually will be in public view. The respect an officer receives often depends more on an example of good character than from anything else about him” (Biblical Church Government, p. 9). All godly men should have these qualities, but the man who is selected for the office of elder must be measured by these qualities
to see if he is ready for the office (1 Tim. 5:22; 2 Tim. 2:2; Ti, 2:7,8).

Some essential characteristics of a good, natural leader:
1.    Courage
2.    Decisive
3.    Discipline
4.    Executive ability
5.    Friendship
6.    Humility
7.    Humor
8.    Inspirational ability
9.    Patience
10.    Righteous anger
11.    Vision
12.    Wisdom

The Biblical Character of a Godly Leader

(As you advance through this list of character traits, rate yourself on a scale of 1-10:
1 meaning this character trait is lacking, almost difficult to notice in your life; while 10 would mean that you are very, very strong and are a good example of this quality. How would your spouse, child(ren) or close friend rate you? How would your work mate rate you?)

1.  Above reproach        (1 Tim. 3:2;  Titus 1:6)
Not to be laid hold of; nothing is open to rebuke.
Here is the reference to the general character or sum total of those godly virtues. It means you are not open to censure, having an impeachable integrity; in accord with Biblical requirement for leadership.

Score:    __________        __________        __________

2.  Restrained Control    (1 Tim. 3:2; 1 Thess. 5:6,8)
You are temperate. There is a sobriety of life, free from excesses; not inebriated with the issues of life. It has the idea of being self-controlled through the work of the Spirit of God (Gal. 5; Phil. 2:13)  and by godly wisdom.  It does not carry with it the idea of a strictly disciplined person, but rather one who is disciplined and
properly flexible in the use and application of all things for the glory of God.

a.   Restrained control in that you are gentle
(2 Sam. 22:36; Psalm 18:35; 1 Timothy 3:2,3)

The idea of gentleness, a very important quality in a godly leader, is that of being patient, mild, reasonable, full of grace and graciousness.  This comes to light in not defending or insisting on one’s own ways. Gentleness sees people as sensitive beings; it deals with people where they are. The gentle man shows carefulness in choosing words and expressions so as not to offend unneedfully (Gal. 6:1).  He reflects care, affection and good-will toward others (Eph. 4:2).

He is not abrupt or critical in his communications. It is a quality the godly leader is to pursue (1 Tim. 6:11).  In short, he exercises the fruit of God’s Spirit (Gal. 5:23; Phil. 4:5).

Here are some characteristic ways one is biblically gentle:

(1)  A true gentle man
•    approachable (his personality has no sharp edges; after all, you cannot hug a porcupine)
•    firm, but diplomatic even when correcting opponents (Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim.
2:23-25)
•    kind and gracious like Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:29; Acts 24:4; 2 Cor. 10:1; 1 Thess. 2:7)
•    his wisdom is a biblical wisdom exercised in gentleness (James 3:17)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

(2) Gentle in that you are not pugnacious   (1 Tim. 3:3; Ti. 1:7 )
Not a striker; not prone to violence; not given to blows; not a fighter.
You are not one who is harsh with words. You don’t lash out when hurt or
incite arguments, or alienate people by your attacking manner. Not eager to
make his point or get his way. You don’t follow through with your hot temper.
(Prov. 3:30; 15:18; 17:14; 20:3; 25:8; 26:17; Phil. 2:3)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

(3) Gentle in that you are not quarrelsome     (1 Tim. 3:2, 3; 2 Tim. 2:14)
Adverse to verbal fighting, quarreling, arguing. Knows what, when, and
how to argue rightly. No tendency to delight in outdoing others and defeating their ideas and beliefs; thus, no harsh dogmatism or a strongly offensive approach toward people. Not a contentious disputer.
(1 Tim. 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:22-26; Ti. 3:9)

On the positive side, you have a sense of peace, tranquility, and calmness.
You are a peacemaker; one who is able to bring calm to a stormy situation.
(Eccl. 10:4; Matt. 5:9; Rom. 12:18; 14:19; Heb. 12:14; Jas. 3:17)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

b.  Restrained control in that you are not greedy    (1 Tim. 3:3; Ti. 1:7)
The acquisition of money or things (that which sustains or makes up life) is not seen as a high priority in your life. Your life is characterized by simplicity and humility in attitude and economic style. Heavenly priorities dominate (Matt. 6:33).

You possessions should not reflect comfort-seeking in things or in undue
accumulation of things unneedful. You have a firm conviction in resisting
dishonest and shady methods for acquiring money or things. Free from the love of money.

One of the deadly sins of a godly leader:
1 Tim. 6:5-10; Acts 20:33; 2 Tim. 3:6-7

Score:    __________        __________        __________

c.   Restrained control in that you are not given to selfish anger     (Ti. 1:7) You are not prone to anger; not overly passionate. No  trigger temper or character that is generally irritable. Not too easily offended, thus unapproachable and unpredictable in temper. (Pro. 16:32)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

d.   Restrained control in that you are not given to much wine  (1 Tim. 3:3; Ti. 1:7) You do not linger over wine. You are not over-indulgent or a drunk.  You control the wine, it does not control you.  The principle is one of control over bodily appetites.
(Gen. 19; Prov. 20:1; 23; Eccles. 10:17; Isa. 5:11; Isa. 28:1; Luke 21:34;
Rom. 13:13; Eph. 5:18)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

e.  Overall character is that you are self-controlled     (Ti. 1:8)
You have a mastery over self. Your passions and appetites are controlled.
You are not lazy, gluttonous or given to filthy talk (Eph. 5:4). You have an
ordered life, one reflecting heavenly pursuits and priorities. (Acts 24:25;
Rom. 6:12; Jas. 3:2; 2 Pet. 1:5-7; Matt. 26:41; 1 Cor. 10:12; 1 Pet. 5:8)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

3.  Humble ( you are not self-willed)    (Luke 14:10; Phil 2:3; Ti. 1:7; Jas. 4:10; 1 Pet. 5:5) This means that you are not seeking to please yourself. You are not willful, obstinate, domineering, arrogant.  You do not stand hard on “everything” you believe, and do not insist on your own way, ideas, or beliefs. You have a genuine interest in others and in what they say.  Being self-willed is also characteristic of one
who delights much in his own appearance, performance, or status to the obvious neglect of others.  Humility is being teachable, thinking rightly about yourself (Rom. 12:3, 10, 16), seeing yourself before the face of God

Score:    __________        __________        __________

4.  Holy    (Ti. 1:8)
Religiously, biblically devout, pious. Consistent in carrying out the basic Gospel duties in private and public affairs of life. Living out the Spirit-filled life of Christ.
(Lev. 11:45; Luke 1:74,75; 2 Cor. 7:1; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 1:16; 2 Pet. 3:11)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

5.   Hospitable    (1 Tim. 3:2; 5:10;  Ti. 1:9; 1 Pet. 4:9)
The love of Christ in you exhibits itself by loving your neighbor as yourself. You are kind to others, even strangers; generous.  This love of your heart is expressed in the open door, demonstrating a kind, compassionate, welcoming Savior. The biblical leader is a pacesetter in this. (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

6.  Just     (Ti. 1:8)
Means upright, righteous.  Impartial in dealing with people. You are able to forget personal interests and seek the truth in situations, in inter-personal conflicts, or as an umpire over differences. You speak what is right; with an ability to hear both sides and weigh the evidence honestly. (Deut. 16:20; Psa. 82:3;  Prov. 21:3; Isa. 56:1; Rom. 13:7; Col. 4:1)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

7.  Lover of good    (Ti. 1:8)
You have a love of virtue, good men and good things. Your affections are
attached toward the Lord, to good things and godly people rather than being
drawn toward worldly pleasures and gratifications.  Your concern is toward
holiness, Spirit-empowered obedience to God’s Word, an anticipation of the
world to come. You have a love of God’s truth rather than such things as position,fame, abilities, possessions, etc., which are soon to pass away. (1 Thess. 5:21; Heb. 3:6; 4:14; 10:23; Rev. 3:3)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

8.  Prudent    (1 Tim. 3:2; Ti. 1:8)
In other words you have a sound and self-controlled mind. You are temperate. Not controlled by impulse but by principle. You are responsible, as opposed to a feeling-oriented life. Your life reflects Biblical priorities, demonstrates sound thinking, and right decision making because you are thinking God’s thoughts about the issues of life.

Score:    __________        __________        __________

9.  Respectable    (1 Tim. 3:2)
Well-ordered, well-arranged, decorous in behavior and speech. The term may refer to 
a. Manners, etiquette, and personal habits;
b. Simplicity of life-style rather than eccentricity or extravagance; or
c. A general reference to a rightly ordered life.

You have  inoffensive and unblameable socially acceptable manners. You are
gentlemanly in your  treatment of women, in your dress, hygiene, eating habits, sociability with various people. You are respectable because you respect others (men, women, young, old). You are unpretentious, modest, with an easy going life-style.

Score:    __________        __________        __________

Leave a comment

Filed under Character, Church Leadership, Deacons, Elders, Pastor & Church Relationship

The Subtle Art of Sabotaging A Pastor

by Jared Wilson | March 20, 2012

This excellent article is borrowed from the following site:

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-subtle-art-of-sabotaging-a-pastor

_________________

Dearest Grubnat, my poppet, my pigsnie,

The reports of your progress warm my blackened heart. When you were assigned to one of the Enemy’s ministers ten years ago, his infernal Majesty and I knew you’d have a rough go of it. The zeal of one new to the pastorate can be a daunting challenge to even the most cunning of our comrades, but we also believed that time breeds all wounds and that your task would become easier the longer your patient remained. You now prosper from that sweet spot of pastoral fatigue and assimilation. The shine of newness is gone. And up pop the cracks in the ministerial armor.

There are many temptations common among the Enemy’s undershepherds but one universal temptation of them arises from their flesh and it is this: they want people to be pleased with them. Wanting to be liked is not a sin, really — to use the Enemy’s terminology — but it can be quickly turned to one at the hands of a spiritual disintegrator as shrewd as yourself. Some tacks you might consider:

Suggest to your client that he works for the people, not the Enemy. This will not be a hard sell as they are faces he sees every day. Remind him who pays his salary. The quicker you can get your patient to see himself as a professional, as an employee, the better.

Strike up with your fellow workers to send in to his office, voicemail, and email inbox parishioner after parishioner with demands, requests, and philosophical banners to wave. Through them propose hill after hill to die on, all save Golgotha.

Keep his head spinning. Even so-called “innocent” concerns can be proper distractions from Who your patient is ultimately beholden to if they offer plausible substitutes for the “first importance” of the Bad News. The slip into people-pleasing mode can be masked as subtly as a serpent slithering in the tall grass (no offense intended to his Majesty).

Help your patient to see all that he lacks. Stroke his discontent. The less satisfied your patient is with what the Enemy has done for him and all the Enemy has given him, the more alluring the validation, approval, and praise of others will be. Empty him of his confidence by highlighting his failures so that therefore his head will be far more easily swelled with adulations and self-confidences. Then pop those like a pin to a balloon and start again. It is easy for a pastor to move to pride—it is his default setting—so this should not be too difficult for you.

Turning your patient into a man-pleaser may require employment of what we have come to call the “rope-a-dope” technique, outlined as follows: First, make things very comfortable in the church for your patient. When he is very much pleased with himself and neither sober nor watchful, but drunk on ease and set to pastoral autopilot, then it is time to strike.

Bring in reinforcements to stoke division and dissension in his flock. Put him on the defensive. Demoralize him. Make him feel as though he has more to prove, more to be. Prod him to strive to enter the unrest. Make arrangements to see that he comes to shepherd under compulsion, not willingly, much less eagerly, and suggest that he view the sheep of his flock as problems to be fixed or resources to be used.

If you can steer him into a position of prideful domineering, that would be most excellent, but the key in all congregational unrest is not just to divorce the people of a church from each other or from their leaders but to divorce the leader from faith in the Enemy. Hype his understanding, if you must, so he will lean on it. Or deconstruct it, if you must, so he will fall back into man-pleasing. Whisper, “Yea to you when all men speak well of you.”

Convince him that difficulty is something strange, undeserved. Convince him that allegiance to himself is a suitable substitute for allegiance to the Enemy. Convince him to seek peace at all costs, especially at the expense of the truth of the Bad News. Your patient is a needy, insecure little man. Ply him with the tenuous, vaporous security of being liked as if it is the end all, be all.

And these are but the rudiments of but one temptation. There is always more to do and much to learn. More to come, if the Enemy delays.

Indefinitely yours,

Wormwood

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized