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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Pastors and People #6

Eugene Peterson says : : :

"Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior. They are, rather, places where human misbehavior is brought out into the open. It’s faced and it’s dealt with."
When you sign up emotionally to be part of Westwinds, which is way different than signing up to just be "at church" every week, you will understand we are committed to holding one another accountable for things.

What does that look like? For me, it looks like Dave (my partner in crime) knowing all of my yucky stuff. I must be transparent to be able to mature, to fully participate with God, to reconnect with my Creator, to meld my shadow with God’s shadow. It means that not only is someone pointing those things out in our lives, but we’re acting on them.

You can’t polish a turd. When something is foul, you know you need to get rid of it, but we fool ourselves into thinking, “Okay, I can’t polish a turd, but maybe I can paint it silver,” or “maybe I can just cover up over everything.” But the paint wears off.

The Book of Jude is full of collateral lessons for us. Outside of the warnings to false teachers, there’s talk about the fallout of pride, there’s a call to persevere, there’s a call to holy living, and there’s the ugly, messy end of compromise and things left unchecked.

I believe there’s also a collateral warning for us not to show favoritism and to beware of how we enamor people. The Book of James (which has a similar theme to the Book of Jude) warns us in the second chapter about ranking people—about giving people high importance.

It talks about sitting the cool people in the cool-people section. Hanging around with people who are deemed important for one reason or another can make us feel important. Some of us like to be on the inside track and some of us feel like we’re not even worth anything unless we know all the secrets, but that whole popularity game is a loosing battle.

Jude is pointing the finger at those who are wielding their power and using it to seduce and hurt people in the process--painting turds. But he’s also saying something to the people who sit under the pastor's authority, “Be careful how we esteem people.”

This doesn’t mean we can’t trust our leaders. We need an environment with a high degree of trust in our church leadership. However, people are people and they are going to let us down and make mistakes. AND, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

We (regular church folk) have to own up to the truth that sometimes we set people (pastors) up for a fall by the position we elevate them to. We need to start realizing the role we play in creating super-pastor-monsters.

There are some wonderful teachers who have fallen from some pretty high pedestals created for them by their church. They need to own their own blame for bad decisions but . . .

Dangerous but frequent scenario : : : The men in the church see the pastor as this super hero, spiritual, go-to guy they can play golf with and hang out with and say, “maybe my life will be cooler if this guy speaks into my life.” All the ladies see the pastor and think, “He’s so eloquent. I wish my husband talked like him; I wish my husband listened like him. I bet when he and his wife fight he listens to everything she says (the scenario is different but similar if the pastor is female).”

Super pastor guy/gal sometimes becomes the spiritual trainer for everyone. He’s juggling the world’s problems, he’s creating and he’s innovating. He’s imparting wisdom and he’s counseling. After awhile, it starts to feel pretty darn good and he starts to think. “Everyone needs me. This church would not survive without me.” Danger Will Robinson.

Soon after comes the fall.

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