Monday, November 29, 2010

Loyalty Won’t Keep Them!


These words pierce any pastor’s heart! In my 20 years of pastoring The Vine Fellowship I have seen the attendance grow and decrease. You always get questioned (and question yourself) when the attendance is ebbing but not when it is growing. Former members point to the decline as some sort of justification for their leaving or the fulfilling of their prophecy of ‘bad things to come’ they slammed you with as they left.

Pastors maintain an optimistic outlook of the church and God’s people. We work hard to be faithful and loyal to the flock that God has entrusted to our care in His Kingdom. We give people the benefit of the doubt, love them when they are unlovely, support them and the decisions they unwisely make, and serve them without reservation.  Imagine our hurt and disappointment when they decide that they don’t need you as their pastor anymore and move on.

I have found that loyalty doesn’t keep them nor does serving them 24/7.
  1. In my years of service to the Saints: I have tended to families whose children have committed suicide.
  2. I have sat by the beside of a dying member with their spouse until he took his last breath in the early morning.
  3. I have helped keep marriages together that were being devastated by the infidelity of a spouse.
  4. I have intervened in the physical abuse of a spouse only to be threatened by the abusing spouse myself.
  5.  I have tended to families who loved ones passed away on Christmas Eve, took food to them and did the service the day after Christmas while missing much of my families Christmas celebrations.
  6.  I have supported a fearful wife as only God and I could as her husband was on a ventilator close to death.
  7. I have given large amounts of benevolence money to members. One time I found out that one member was using it to pay her cable TV bill!
  8.  I have helped members move, cleaned their homes, repair and paint their homes, and mow their yards.
  9. I have suffered ridicule for ‘not being there for them’ when I was trying desperately to be there for my own family.
  10. I have become all too familiar with hospitals, funeral homes, morgues, crime scenes while caring and serving 24/7.
  11. Etc. etc. etc. (Pastor, you can add to this list.)

What is significant about all the above situations is they all eventually left the church.

I was loyal to them. But, I found that these situations did not endear loyalty to me and the church. I discovered people could walk out of your life as if these never happened and forget you gave yourself unreservedly for and to them.

But having said all that, I would accept them back, be loyal in my care and love of them, and not hold their leaving against them.

Is that wrong? To paraphrase Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington’s comment about how baseball goes, ‘That is just what baseball do,’ I would say, ‘No, that is just what pastor do!’

I will never lower my expectations of being loyal and serving God’s people, and I will always hope they will reciprocate in kind.

I am eternally optimistic!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Attacks via the Web

I live in sports Mecca- Texas Rangers, Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars, TCU, and a host of other teams! One thing around here is the fact of life that the fans are not silent. They are very vocal. In fact I have learned this, If you're not being booed, you've got to ask yourself if you're in the game.’

It is no different in the ministry! The ‘fans’ will let you know their feelings! We all have seen the websites and blogs branding many Christian pastors, writers, teachers, singers, etc. as heretics. Some of my favorites have been accused in this modern day witch-hunt under the banner ‘contending for the faith.’ I search Google often to see if I have been included in their number. I guess I would wear the branding as a distinction of honor!

Even Facebook has become a vehicle to attack His Church- it amazes me the tools and fools Satan uses to achieve this sort of ungodly work. I know a Pastor that had whole threads on Facebook devoted to him in an attempt to character assassinate him and the work of God in his life and church. What should have been settled in private is now open to ridicule, humiliation, and defamation by immature people. As Executive Director of Liberty Fellowship, I am afraid that I am hearing about this way too often nowadays! Pastors everywhere are being victimized. The pen (Facebook) is becoming mightier than the sword!

As a Pastor I have had my fair share of personal attacks and criticism over the years. What continually amaze me are the ones who generally foster this contemptuous behavior. My brother in law reminded me one time, ‘People are going to blow in, blow up, and blow out.’

And therein lays the rub, the attacks generally come from those that at one time were the most loyal, supportive and vocal people. ‘This is the best church!’ ‘You are a great pastor.’

But then something happens and they are no more. Hurt people hurt people. They often times hurt to try to get even. Other times they strike out to try to prove they are right.

Regardless the dynamics and the reasons, their embittered souls take delight in demeaning others and the church. It is a kind of narcissistic gratification!

A vain man through pride causeth debate, And with the counselled is wisdom.
Proverbs 13.10 Young's Literal Translation

To be a coach, player, president, or a pastor takes one with tough skin. In fact, it takes rhino skin!

What do you do in times of vicious attack?
  1. Don’t be amazed but be assured the attacks will come.
  2. Don’t be amazed as to whom they come through.
  3. Remember to pray for them and their hurt
  4. Remember pride is at the source of their contention.
  5. Don’t let your pride lead you to retaliation.
  6. Humble yourself before God and pour out your complaint to Him.
  7. Don’t read their Facebook (blogs, websites)!
  8. And, finally, don’t be surprised by what new device Satan may use next to attack you and God’s church.
To my Pastor friends that must endure the unending scrutiny and silliness of men be assured of my prayers. If you need someone to talk to, call me or email me. My sympathetic ears are yours!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Favorite Commercial of All Time!

Is it wrong for a former Drill Sergeant turned Pastor to enjoy this commercial so much?

Nope, I love it on so many levels!!!!! Hahahaha!

Does a former Drill Sergeant make a terrible Pastor?

can't see video click here

Monday, November 15, 2010