Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you…Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good successwherever you go.This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:5, 7-8
Leadership changes are scary…and not just the political ones. Leadership changes at church are just as troublesome. None are more scary than changing shepherds of a congregation. Having served on pastor search teams myself, and having trained dozens of other such teams and processes for various churches and organizations, I have lots of stories of the many “pitfalls” and traps which await us when it comes to prayerfully searching for a new shepherd. So, for those of you who find this topic relevant, here are three mistakes Pastor search teams often make:
1. Making it a secular process. As laymen, we all bring whatever experiences and expertise we may have from our industries to our ministry, and it would be easy to think of the pastor search process as primarily (or essentially) a human resources process. But it is not…not primarily. Rather, it is first and foremost a spiritual discernment process. And as with any spiritual discernment process, it should bubble up out of deep and humbling gathered prayer. Indeed, prayer should not only be foundational and central to the process, but it …
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21
As a trial attorney, I suppose I have said it to at least a hundred or so jury panels during the voir dire examination of them, when the parties are trying to decide whom to strike from the jury panel. That’s the way our system works. The parties each get to strike a certain small number of prospective jurors, and the first 12 left comprise the jury. It is an examination for one purpose…to determine any relevant bias which may make a juror the wrong juror for a particular case. So, I have said this to all of them: “We all have biases. They don’t make us a bad person. They don’t make us liars. They don’t make us deceptive. In our area of bias, they just make us an unreliable finder of truth in that area.”
Those words rang so very true, I think, as little as 50 years ago in our culture. Truth cannot be found in bias. But, in more recent years, I fear that our bias-rich American culture is making it more and more difficult for us to explore truth without bias. I have stopped watching national news, pretty much completely. Why? Because every single national news syndicate in our country is hopelessly biased, whether by choice or by accident. I’m certain it does not matter which. What bothers me most about that sad fact is that real journalism was our last secular hope for knowing truth. Then again, maybe that was false hope from the …
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
who rely on horses,
who trust in the multitude of their chariots
and in the great strength of their horsemen,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
or seek help from the Lord. Isaiah 31:1
I pay $4.00 for a cup of Starbucks coffee, when I could pay half that elsewhere. And I pay with my iPhone. And I follow American Idol (sort of). And I watch ESPN Sportcenter pretty much every day. And I follow secular bloggers, like Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt. I do most of these things because I want to be a part of this culture where I live…I want to understand it and to be accepted in it. I want to have influence in it as well. To be blunt, I want to be one of the cool kids.
I will also admit to you that I want this, even knowing that there are times and circumstances when it is not God’s first and perfect will for me. What I mean by that is…being one of the cool kids may well be more important to me sometimes than it should be. I try to be cognizant of that, but I am certain I sometimes miss the mark. I know that I am capable of looking in the wrong places for my acceptance…making “alliances” for my security other than with the Lord. In this regard, I am definitely still just a work in progress.
Judah did that with Egypt. In the face of certain discipline from God (at the hands of the Assyrians), rather than turning toward God and taking their medicine, they turned toward Egypt for acceptance and security. God’s path for them was going to be difficult and …
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Col. 3:23-24
My dear friend, Dr. Ann Farris, taught me that in this world there are 4 kinds of people: those who ask “What?”, those who ask “How?”, those who ask “Why?” and those who don’t ask any questions but just like to party. Every good task force or team needs each of these types of people. I so get that! Of all the different “temperament” and personality profile studies I have done and seen (isn’t it shocking how many very bright people over the centuries have devoted themselves to dividing humanity into four categories?) this one may be my favorite. I like it because it explains so much. And I like explanations…
…because I am definitely a “Why?” person.
In every job, with every assignment, even in every game I play, I just need to understand the “why”. If I don’t, then I’m not very useful, not very effective. Motivation is everything to me. That is true in my work with churches (I really do insist that the church understand WHY each of its ministries exists) and it is true in my individual life as well. Life is just too busy to engage in activities with no purpose at all.
And so it is with our work. Having a strong work ethic has everything to do with having a grasp of WHY we do it in the first place. If the best reason you can muster for showing up at work everyday is “to collect a paycheck” (and by the way, I strongly suspect this …
I recently enjoyed the privilege of traveling with 10 friends to South Africa to teach in churches there. A couple of months prior to the trip, I began to pray for our team as we all made preparations for how we anticipated God would use us there. It struck me that this was the first time I had prayed for some of these friends. I hate that observation…because it is yet another way our culture’s great divide between the secular and the sacred has influenced me. I prayed for them then because they were going to do something Spiritual…as if what they do otherwise is not sacred or Spiritual at all. I am bothered by that.
I have often observed that lay leaders in the church are often more aware of this divide than clergy, because we move so freely back and forth between the “church” world and the rest of the world. But Greene describes the belief in this divide as being pervasive, and I agree. We are all to blame for furthering it. Even the culture within the church furthers the divide. We are making a mistake in that regard, and I believe it has had some devastating effects on the church and its testimony.
If we as Christians are truly to offer ourselves as “living, holy sacrifices, acceptable to God”, then we must begin to see that every moment of our day and night is an opportunity to glorify Him in how we think and act. Everything we do, whether “for the church” or for our business or for our entertainment or for our education, everything is sacred.…