And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” 1 Samuel 8:7-9
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” C.S. Lewis
Here is a fundamental truth for church leaders (including pastors): the church is not for you (not really), nor is it about you. If you think about it, that is actually a rather freeing reality. That means it is not your responsibility to manipulate every outcome. Rather, it is your responsibility to speak God’s truth to the best of your ability and to love your people well…and love often means letting them mess up royally.
Most of my own best illustrations of this leadership principle come from parenting. If you are a parent, you already know the phenomenon well. There are times when a parent can see a wrong direction a child is headed and the very best way to teach this lesson is to simply warn them and then let them make their own decision (and live with the consequences). Take bedtimes, for example. Toddlers are simply told when they will go to bed. But, as they grow older, we eventually get to a point where they must learn to use their own judgment about sleep …
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” Luke 18:1-5
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.” 1 Samuel 8:19-22
So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5
Persistence, it seems, is a big deal to God. We see it throughout the Bible, over and over again…so much so, in fact, that you could call it a rule: the Rule of Persistence. Simply put, the spiritual rule of persistence is: God’s nature is to reward persistence. Mind you, that does not mean persistence always gets us what we want…it just means, if scripture paints an accurate picture of God, …