This is one of my favorite lines from the Star Wars series. The storm troopers can not resist the Jedi mind-trick. They are looking at what they are looking for, but can not see what is right in front of them. A wave of the hand, initiating the deception - all in the name of the good. That is all that it took.
I am curious, what we have been staring out in the face, and not due to a Jedi mind-trick, just due to a host of things - we are not seeing the truth. The truth is up for grabs.
This is where I say, I am writing this for others that lead in churches in some form or fashion. So if that is not you, feel free to read along, but there are some things that I need to say to my fellow leaders in the church.
First, let me say remind us of this:
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
The New International Version (Ro 5:3–5). (2011). Zondervan.
I am attempting to learn from the suffering, the refining and the discipline. We all have been through it, and to welcome the clarity that brokenness brings is a new, hard and beautiful lesson I am learning.
So here is where I will invite you to listen to this:
So this explores a pastor’s journey during the Trump era. It is primarily a pastor’s story of how he deals with the shifting sands of the world and the shifting or the realization of the shifting of the sub-culture of the church. It is much more about a pastor’s story, and not a political commentary. It is worth a listen if you have been leading in a church. You will be seen and known by listening. It will cause you to stop and reflect.
A few things I realized as I listened:
Things are not the same now as they were prior to 2016. A nerve has been awakened. An awareness of the different versions of Christianity exist within the same church. You are preaching to/leading folks that do not see Christ in the same way, and do not see their obligation to live that truth out in the same way. Again, I think it has been that way for a long time, but now the clarity of the last few years help us to see the division in a clear way. And it there. I see it all the time. So what unifies and brings forward movement?
Nowadays - Leaders, in title or in reality, are expected as folks that should be leading the charge against _______ (fill in blank with the preferred cause). I am not for sure leaders in the church are called to rally the troops against this or that. The main job of the leader is to tell the story of Jesus. To proclaim the Kingdom of God. To teach Christ and what it means to follow him.
Hate of people has no place in the church. Anything you do as a leader that stoke that fire, it not of God. Do a word search for hate in the Bible, specifically as related to people…yeah, it is not there. Hating what is evil, and clinging to what is good is there (Romans 12:9). So hate evil things, but people that act evilly: do not hate, instead love them. This very thing has taken out so many leaders. It easy to stir people’s hates, fears and biases. But again, not our call.
You are not alone, even when you feel alone. Find people that value you for you, not what you do. Those are the treasures. I do think from all that I hear in this story above and all the stories I have heard personally from other church leaders this: People are acting out of their hurts. And sometimes those in leadership catch the brunt of that - directly and indirectly. You see, we all have the tendency to blame those in authority for that which we do not want to deal with in our own hearts. Leaders this is your job: Own what is yours, do not own what is not yours. You can still have compassion, but do not believe it is your fault that someone is having a moment. Avoid extremes: If it is all your fault or nothing is your fault, you are living a lie my friends. Find the truth.
People are looking for real hope. You, as a leader are looking for real hope. Yet, the verse above says that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. If people want hope, the path leads through the hard and necessary road of suffering, perseverance, and character. Take that to heart. Hope starts with walking in suffering. Much of our culture today, wants to avoid hard things at all costs. And if you spend your life running from, you will always be tired and weary. You can choose to be bitter folks (I had a year I wasted there) or you can get on with persevering and building character to that you have a hope that is a hope that can not be shaken. That hope will not disappoint. That hope is what the world needs and wants.
So many other things to say, but I reached a length that feels good to cease for now. Let me end by saying this:
Even though you might be saying, “these are not the droids we are looking for” - even though you might not want to face the reality of what is standing in front of you - it is. Looking you square in the face. Let suffering do it’s work so that you can be the messenger of God, the Kingdom, Jesus, hope and the Holy Spirit.
Blessings to all you fellow guides in the church.