Who is My Shepherd?

jesushugDisclaimer: my thoughts are all over the place. There are birds flying everywhere. 🙂

I’ve been processing another recent moral failure of a church pastor and watching the church fall apart. This man was a mentor to me in many ways. It was because of him and his wife, that I was encouraged to marry my husband. It was because of him that my prayer life became more important than being busy. It was because of him that my leadership became more courageous. And yet, I have noticed something… His moral failure has not rocked me to the core. I watch as his church falls apart and I’ve been wondering if the church is falling apart because they knew the voice of him as their pastor more than the voice of Jesus?

I watch how the rate of burnout, infidelity, depression, and suicide amongst pastors seems to be increasing. Is this because people are following them rather than Jesus?

Sometimes I hear people say: “We go to this church because of the pastor, or because of a certain family invited us, or because of the program for my kids…” And then, I’ve watched how the pastor leaves, or the pastor falls into moral failure, or the kids get too old for the program… and then the family leaves completely disillusioned and maybe even walks away from Jesus altogether. But, were they truly walking with him in the first place? Or just with the pastor?

Lord, are we following people, programs, or you?

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” – John 10:27,28

Yes, granted when one in our family falls into moral failure, the whole family suffers. Yet, I’ve also been pondering how when your whole foundation is built on Jesus, anything else that is loving is a bonus. And so when there’s moral failure in your leadership, you lean into Jesus more than ever and bounce back higher than you ever were before.

(As long as there’s repentance. And when there’s no repentance, you need to move on, or at least fire this person in leadership. No matter if you want to forgive them or not, without repentance, you cannot move forward …as is… under their leadership. Submitting to an unrepentant leader only brings curses upon yourself.)

Just some thoughts to process… as I’m going through a paradigm shift of…

“Who is called to lead the church?”

Some people say: Men only.

(…But, then we read the Gospels, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles and see women leading everywhere in the church…empowered by Jesus and by Paul.)

But, I’ve been wondering if we have focused too much on people period, regardless of gender, and not enough on Jesus?

Thanks to Constantine who sadly institutionalized Christianity using the book of Leviticus rather than the book of Acts model, and plus my own pastoral training, my mind still forgets that we are called to be the priesthood of believers!

No professional pastors required.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

(And He later told His disciples to wait until Holy Spirit came!

…Yet, we still seem to insist on relying only on our Theology. By the way, there’s a book called ‘Systematic Theology’, but why isn’t there a book called: “Systematic Marriage”? …I’m being sarcastic. We can’t put God in a box, like we can’t put our spouse in a box.)

I love when the professional religious leaders of the day took note because, “These unschooled, ordinary men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4)

There it is again. Relationship with Jesus.

Here’s another quote I heard back in 2014 which keeps coming to mind too lately…

“One day all the mega churches will fall apart, and we’ll look back and wonder what was going on in churches in North America.” – Dallas Willard

(Please note: Don’t think I’m entirely anti mega-church. In fact, this year I made a journey to attend a mega church to discover for myself if it was legitimately led by Jesus or not…and I was actually blown away by this church culture of honour. The Lead pastor continually honoured and empowered other leaders, male or female, and was quick to share the pulpit. He knew the love and goodness of God that He didn’t feel threatened by others. Rather, he cheered them on. In fact, it’s been through this mega-church pastor that I had been reminded that when leaders don’t think there’s enough of God’s love to go around, that’s when they walk in fear, jealousy, control and manipulation… But, when leaders know God’s love, they celebrate other people’s wins!  …But, here’s a thought… If this Lead Pastor were ever to fall into moral failure, would this mega-church fall apart?? Hmmm, that is the question…)

Anyway…

What are your thoughts on who should Shepherd the Church? Are we still relying too much on people and not enough on Jesus and Holy Spirit in North America?

Thoughts? 🙂 Share below…

Three Pastors Tell All

Pastors were asked, “What’s your best piece of advice for someone who wants to become a pastor?”

One answered…

If you can do anything else, do it! The pay ain’t great, criticism is over the top, and in this age when everybody just downloads podcasts of their favourite preacher, you don’t stand a chance.

However, if you are called, don’t do anything else. I wouldn’t give up what I do for anything in the world. To paraphrase my mentor, I make a living doing something that will matter 100 years from now.

Read… Three pastors tell all | Mennonite Brethren Herald

Religious Leaders: You Love Us, You Hate Us

Loving Our Spiritual Leaders: by Henri Nouwen…

“Religious leaders, priests, ministers… can be admired and revered but also hated and despised.  We expect that our religious leaders will bring us closer to God through their prayers, teaching, and guidance. Therefore, we watch their behavior carefully and listen critically to their words. But precisely because we expect, often without fully realizing it, to be superhuman, we are easily disappointed or even feel betrayed when they prove to be just as human as we are. Thus, our unmitigated admiration quickly turns into unrestrained anger.

Let’s try to love our religious leaders, forgive them their faults, and see them as brothers and sisters.  Then we will enable them, in their brokenness, to lead us closer to the heart of God.”

Yes, please… we are human, just like you. What’s the best thing to do for us?? Pray for us!! We are continually on our knees for you. And often bawling our eyes out for you. When we pray, “Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours”, weeping comes with the territory. I find myself a prayer corner to pray, for privacy sake, but so often because I’m on my knees weeping. I’m sure that would be awkward for anyone to walk in on! 🙂

Because of the Spiritual responsibility, I believe strongly that religious leaders need an army of regular prayer warriors. I have 40 officially appointed ones and I have several more who tell me informally they are lifting me and my family up in prayer. I need it. My family needs it. We are in a battle which I must NEVER try to fight on my own strength.

We are all shepherds when we receive Christ’s call to follow Him. I’m not on a pedestal above you. Please give me grace. I am merely, like you, a human desiring to be used by God. Let’s journey together! The enemy longs for you to hate me and when you do, he laughs. Let us instead make our Lord laugh because we love each other and are in tandem working together for His glory and NOT our own. Amen!