There is no more fundamental description of what the role of a pastor should be than the role of a shepherd. There was a season of life where I was only reading leadership books. They have great advice and fantastic insight they can help you be a better leader which we should all strive to be. The fundamental flaw in being a pastor who strives to be a CEO versus a pastor as a shepherd is the focus of what you do and the motivations behind what you do.
A CEO is driven by the need for efficiency and measurable outcomes. They make the mistake of being efficient with people so you can be effective in ministry. This is where we make our fatal flaw as ministers we think that we are judged by some elusive bottom line, and in the frenetic pace of ministry we kill ourselves trying to make it across some finish line we have set up for ourselves, but we never end up crossing. We burn up and burn out because we become disillusioned with the pace and the culture of pastoral ministry.
You Are an Undershepherd, Not an Owner.
We live in a very entrepreneurial culture. If you build it, they will come. The dream you have can be realized, you can be a self-made man. While all these things are true to a point as a pastor, you will never be satisfied with your work if these are the ideas you have about pastoral ministry. As a pastor, you are more of an undershepherd than even a Shepherd. We are stewards, not owners. A steward recognizes that he doesn’t set his goals or achieve his outcomes. A steward’s job description is to take care of and grow his flock for the person whom he works. When we are the owner we tend to obsess over outcomes rather than the hard work of planting, loving and trusting. When we see ourselves as the owner we are shaken when things happen that we can’t understand. As a CEO we don’t think anything as above our paygrade, as an undershepherd, we have a greater capacity for mystery because in ministry there are many things that don’t make sense.
A couple of years ago I preached this message in our church. Three years later and it is perhaps more relevant today than the day I preached it in our church. We have seen over the past 90 years or so, our country go from welcoming to the gospel, to being indifferent to the gospel, to now becoming hostile towards the gospel. I pray by God’s grace that this changes.
How to raise gospel centered kids in a gospel hating world.
Avoid fear – As we talk through the issues as we have over the past few weeks the reaction I find in me is fear. I don’t want my kids to put any of these bumper stickers on their cars. I don’t want any of the things that have been said to be true of my kids. There are times when I feel like a captive in my home afraid to let my kids leave the sanctuary of the home because the reality of the very real devil is much greater to me than the understanding that we have a magnificent savior.
4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
In 1989, Rick Moranis entered into the vernacular of our culture the words “honey I shrunk the kids” Moranis portrays a wacky inventor who accidentally shrinks his kids and the neighbor kids with his shrink ray he invented. Moranis’ character is unaware that his kids were shrunk by the very invention he destroys because he thinks it doesn’t work. There were multiple spin-offs of the movie and “honey I shrunk the (fill in the blank with something witty)” became a staple of sitcoms and watercolors alike for most of the 90’s.
Growing up in the 80’s has created a passion in me for all things 80’s. I love 80’s music, and 80’s movies and like it or not 80’s fashion is coming back full force. Being a fan of the 80’s it’s only natural that the analogy I will use for how we at times treat the Gospel was born out of a movie from the 1980’s.
One of the greatest lies we believe is that something we own, can gain or obtain will make us happy. We confuse the gifts with the giver of the gifts. This starts early for us. We chase after many things, often good things. But we often do it in a way that can lead us from Christ rather than to Christ. Someone once said that we don’t know that Christ is all we need until Christ is all we have. The sufficiency of Christ is the understanding of the reality that all things come from Christ that he is our single pursuit in life. That every good and perfect thing come from him. That we can rejoice in times good and times bad because we have our prize already we have Jesus. That He gives us what we need when we need it not what we want when we want it. Our kids need to know this.
Our kids need to know that Christianity is the only religion that gives material things their proper place. We can enjoy them as gifts from a God who is a good father and loves us with an unending love. We don’t think things are evil, although they can be. The best way for us as parents and family ministers to convey this to our kids is to remind them over and over that Christ is enough that His sacrifice for us was enough. We have to point our kids to the sufficiency of Christ because it is the truth that will hold them when life fails them.
The ruling that came down this week was not unexpected. It was a slow build that started in the 1960’s with the sexual revolution. What the ruling did was place the final nail in the coffin of Orthodox Christianity as the majority viewpoint in our country. As a country we have been drifting for years and we have finally hit the sand bar of post modernism with full force.
Here is what we don’t need to do. Freak out and bunker down. We must love and engage. The beautiful thing about Orthodox Christianity is that it is about true love, costly love. We as a culture have fallen in love with love. Not real love but the idea of love. Real love is not loving those who love you but loving those who hate you. Love is not a constitutional right, love is a gift. A gift that cost God what was most dear to him to ransom back to himself what was most far from him. We must convey this kind of love in everything we do and say. We must fight tolerance by actually loving our neighbors.