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…

Helping the Hurting

I’m realizing as we head home from a week vacation… My list of those who are ill, hurting, dying or who are walking loved ones through terminal illness seems to be growing. I’m reminded of when Jesus wept over Lazarus. When I get home and out of this can of (loving and adorable) sardines, first thing I’m doing is heading off alone to pray. I need to surrender and remember that I can’t provide pastoral care on my own strength. It’s futile. It’s stupid. It’s irresponsible. It’s arrogant. There’s nothing I can give from myself that is helpful. I must empty me of me and ask daily for the Spirit to fill me and flow through me to those who need Him. Only He can satisfy and sustain through the trying times. Praise God! We are not alone nor expected to exist alone. What mercy and grace is ours! But, it requires surrender.