“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27
I love the musical musings of Bobby McFerrin. He has an amazing creativity and an incredible vocal instrument. But I’m no fan of the philosophy behind his old song: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. Here’s why:
I am not a worrier…at least I do not think I am. Oh, I do worry. Some. But I don’t think of myself that way. Still, maybe I am a worrier but just not very self-aware. Could that be possible? If so, then maybe I actually worry a great deal more than I think I do. In fact, maybe it is a huge problem for me but I am just not very connected to that reality. And maybe I worry so much (without realizing it) that I could actually have a heart attack or a stroke one day because of it. Maybe I am killing myself slowly every single day and don’t even realize it. It is possible, you know. I could die any day now.
🙂 See how easy it is to worry?
I am not claiming any expertise as a worrier, but I am definitely no stranger to the notion. I have had a few stressful seasons in my life. Three years ago, my ministry’s Board of Directors passed the largest, most challenging budget in our ministry’s history. …
Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2
I am not a sailor. Maybe you are. So, forgive my ignorance of the whole experience, and please forgive my stealing of this illustration…but it seems to me that sailing involves a whole lot of hard work and attention to details, on the one hand, and a lot of being still and waiting on the wind to blow, on the other hand. In that way, it is a lot like the church.
I once heard one of the important spiritual mentors in my life say: “I don’t like 5-year strategic plans for the church…I am always afraid we will reach the 5-year goal and have missed out on what God wanted for us.” When I was a young leader in the church, that truly spoke to me. It pretty much rocked my world. I learned that God does want God-sized things for His people. He does want to show us great and amazing things of which we cannot even conceive. We really do get so wrapped up in our planning and our business-like approach to spiritual things that we end up missing God completely…sometimes. I think those were valuable lessons for me to learn as a young leader. I definitely needed to expand my vision of God and of His sovereignty.
But there is another side to scripture. There is a very practical side to it. There is Jesus asking the question, “What kind of man sets out to …
The call hasn’t come in yet this season, but almost every year during the Christmas season I get a panicked phone call from a pastor or other church staff member somewhere in the country whose church has decided that Christmas is the best time to terminate him. I am not sure why that is. I could only speculate about why terminations of ministers happen so often at this time of year. I cannot imagine how much sheer hatred a church would have to muster for their pastor to put him and his family out during the Christmas season…churches behaving badly.
It seems to me that churches sometimes play freely and loosely with their “power” of finances over their pastor. Of course, they will defend themselves, claiming that ultimately it is the only power they have over him. But that claim side-steps the issue. The larger question is whether the activities of God’s church were ever intended to be a function of earthly power at all.
In his blog post yesterday over at Kingdom People, Trevin Wax poses a great question to pastors: “Does getting paid make a difference in how you lead your church?” And this important follow-up question, “Should it?” These are terrific questions for pastors. Frankly, they are questions I ask myself (though I’m not a pastor) from time to time. You know…”If I suddenly became independently wealthy, would I still be doing this?” Maybe you’ve played that game as well.
But I want to ask the question in a slightly different direction. Rather than asking the pastor how it affects his leadership (which is an entirely different blog post…one already well-written by Trevin), I want to ask you, the church members a question: If your pastor did not receive a salary from you, would it change …
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16
Once again, the mediator in me comes out. I ranted against bad lawyer decisions in a previous post and the negative effect they can have on a church’s (or Christian institution’s) testimony. Now, feeling guilty for the slur against my brethren (and sistren) in the law, I want to say something good about church lawyers: sometimes they/we get it right.
So, here’s a big fist bump to all the lawyers out there who have given solid Christian counsel to a church or other Christian organization, to help them show Godly wisdom in a legally-complicated world. Join me in a round of applause for each of the following good and wise legal recommendations lawyers smarter than I have given their Christian institutional clients (and you might want to pass this post along to your pastor or church administrator, just to make sure your church is doing these things):
FBI Background checks for all workers (both payed and volunteer) who have any interface at all with children or youth. I know, I know, it is a pretty big deal to implement this for the first time, especially with your long-tenured workers and volunteers. But nothing says “We love you and care about your children” more clearly to parents than a comprehensive background-check policy for their children’s workers, teachers and care-givers. There are plenty of services all around your community now who can coordinate this for you.
A comprehensive child safety awareness policy. I am lumping a lot of little things together here, like windows in all the doors, a policy of at least two workers in every room, a comprehensive and coherent fire escape plan, an up-to-date …