Pastors Don’t Do This 09 Become Pastor Pharisee (Part 8 – Get In the Way of People)

One of the biggest problems with the Pharisees is that they got in the way of other people growing with God. In Matthew 23.13, talking about the Pharisees Jesus says “woe to you… Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of Heaven against men” (KJV). In the New Living, it says “You shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces… you won’t go in yourself and you don’t let others enter”.

One of the signs of a Pastor Pharisee is that they warn their people away from good ministries. I once had a couple tell me it took them a long time to find our church, because they tried calling a large ministry that they really liked to see if there were any local churches that had a similar style and message and doctrine local to them. That ministry told them categorically that there were no churches like that in our area!

I know they knew about me, I knew that very well, so I called up the ministry and asked why they would do that – they said it was their policy not to recommend our church to people in case someone went there and something bad happened to them. That has to be one of the most ridiculous excuses I have ever heard in my entire life! What a shame that couple had a few months trying to find a church until another pastor helped them and pointed them in our direction!

If you are a para-church ministry and you are not helping people get into good local churches, you are utterly failing at your mission. You are keeping people out of the kingdom and out of a life of heaven on earth! In our churches, people are saved, baptised in the Holy Spirit, healed of all sorts of conditions, discover their destinies and purpose and walk in their dreams. By refusing to even give people the option of going once or twice and making their own mind up if the church is helpful to them, the staff of this ministry have become Pharisees. They have cut people off from Heaven!

I first heard that I was the righteousness of God in a meeting in Birmingham, UK, in 1997. The preacher that told me I was righteous was Kenneth Copeland, but I had heard several messages in my denominational church against Kenneth Copeland, and people warned me not to go hear him! They were, whether they knew it or not, warning me away from finding out a revelation that when you get it, your life becomes so much more Heavenly! That’s a Pharisee.

Pharisees are dominated by envy. They will not recommend people listen to other ministries that could help them because of envy. They would tell people that Jesus was dodgy, and tell people all the “sins” Jesus did. They lock people out of Heaven by refusing to have the humility and kindness to promote other ministries that can help people! I have actually sat with people in Tree of Life and helped them find other churches that fit them better, I have send so many people to other events, to conferences, to Bible Colleges, helped people find books and DVDs and links that increase their wisdom and life. I have paid for my pastors to go to many other conferences to get Heaven into them over and over again!

Obviously, I am careful not to send people to places that have no track record of bearing fruit, but otherwise, I have no ego in this game – I just want to help people get Heaven. A few years ago, a couple approached me and said “we want to go to such and such a conference, but our last church would not let us” (I have no idea how they could stop them to be honest), and I said “go, and enjoy it, because I love the idea that you are fully equipped in a conference and I don’t have to come up with tens of thousands of pounds, work 14-16 hour days for a week, and preach – someone else can do all of that, and you become more useful for the local church” – that’s a win-win for me! We need to start having a kingdom vision and not being petty Pharisees and stopping people living their dreams.

Pastors Don’t Do This 08: Become Pastor Pharisee (Part 7 – Love the Best Seats)

Another thing Jesus says about Pharisee Pastors is that they “love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues” (Matthew 23.6). There are two different things there that mark Pharisee Pastors, and both are two things we need to make sure we are not into.

  1. The Best Place at the Social Gathering. Feasts are social gatherings, get togethers. Pastors who need to be involved in every single social gathering do not lead well. Pastors who need to be the centre of attention in every scenario do not lead well. Pastors who love to be honoured in public never succeed. It’s the hallmark of a Pharisee to want to be honoured, even in arenas that are not their own. One of the biggest problems in the church is pastors who are trying to be honoured in areas they are not called to. As a pastor, you will be invited to a lot of social gatherings and events. At weddings, funerals and baby dedications – you have to be there. DO NOT THEN TRY AND BE THE CENTRE OF ATTENTION. My son at Bible College was asked to prepare a whole bunch of funeral messages, which is just foolish. When I go to a funeral, I preach one message. No one is going to listen to my message and go “isn’t that the same message he preached last year at Auntie Jean’s funeral?”. No one is there to see you! They are there to pay their respect, honour the person who died, find solace with each other. Your job is to take a few minutes to remind people that their loved one is in Heaven and to bring some comfort. You are not there to be the centre of attention or a spectacle. Leave the wake early, stay long enough to be respectful then get home. Same with weddings – no one is there to see you. Say a few words to remind the happy couple to put God first – all the hard work should have been done well before the actual day. Then go home! Some pastors are social butterflies – they need to be at each social event. Some are nervous the people are getting together without them, let them – it’s good! Some pastors are at party after party, they are only invited to because people feel they should. Maybe stay in and spend some time with Jesus, maybe visit someone in hospital. And when you do go, don’t ever demand the best place, the best seat, the best this or that. Do not USE THE ANOINTING THAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU AS A GRACE GIFT as a tool to manipulate people to give you honour in social gatherings.
  2. The Chief Seats at the Synagogues. I go to a lot of meetings because I love learning. Every weekend I am ministering at normally three-five services, meetings where I am the lead pastor, and I am preaching the Word. So when I go elsewhere, I like to sit down and learn and take notes and be fed and grow. As I travel so much, I have seen something that disturbs me so much and I think that is one of the clearest signs that a pastor is a Pharisee, and is little or no use to the kingdom of God and is going to be judgmental and dismissive of others. And it is this – I have seen this happen, and it is more common now than it hasn’t been – people who will only go to a meeting or conference if they are platformed. They are never in the congregation sitting down and learning. You never see them notebook in hand learning. That is clearest sign of being a Pharisee I think there is. If you have a conference and someone flies in and flies out and never listens to another preacher, that’s a sign. Now obviously we are all busy and there are times it has to be that way, but if it is ALWAYS that way, that is a huge red flag. Every pastor needs to ask themselves what was the last meeting where you sat down and heard someone preach, and I do not include in your local church with a guest speaker. It’s a great question I am happy to ask any guest preacher. Though because I love talking about the Word of God, I hear soon enough without asking most of the time. If I am around, let’s say Greg Mohr, for example, it won’t be long before he tells me “I was sitting there listening to (insert some preacher’s name here), and, Ben, he said (this revelation), isn’t that powerful…” and then I will share something similar. But when you are around someone who is never in a meeting they are not platformed in – be careful. Worship leaders and musicians who only turn up the week they are on the rota, be careful. Preachers who only turn up for their slot on the conference, be careful. Preachers who only attend a minister’s gathering when it’s their turn to speak, be extra careful. SELAH.

Pastors Don’t Do This 07: Become Pastor Pharisee (Part 6 – They Love to Be Seen)

In Matthew 23, Jesus talks about what kind of leaders the Pharisees are. Last post we looked at verses 2-4, but today I want to look at verse 5:

But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

(Matthew 23.5, KJV)

One of the signs that you are becoming Pastor Pharisee is actually one of the best ways of checking your heart. You only do things when it is seen by people. You only pray when people are watching, you only read the Bible to write your sermons, you only go to conferences that platform you. You develop a dual personality – your out-and-about seen-by-people personality which is godly, kind, full of the Word, impressive, prayerful, prophetic. Then as soon as the spotlight is off, you go back to being selfish, bitter, grumpy, prayerless. You are like the Incredible Hulk – big and impressive in public, puny in private.

In Matthew 6, Jesus says the Pharisees have to make public their giving. It’s never secret or quiet or with some discretion and dignity. They cannot fast one meal without letting everyone know. They cannot pray without it being told to everyone! That’s a dangerous place to be in, because you cannot serve people if you seek validation from people.

The reason this marker of a Pharisee Pastor is so helpful to checking yourself it is quanifiable – it is measureable. This weekend I am preaching 3 times. That’s about three hours of public serving of Jesus Christ. So, I will make sure I am in the prayer closet as an absolute minimum twice that, because I never want to become a hypocrite and just serve Him publicly. I can quantify if I am less Christ-like when people are not watching. I can tell. And I can change. And I can grow. And so can you. If you are catching yourself here, do something about it – the world does not need more spotlight hungry false prophets elbowing their way in where they do not belong, helping no one.

That is one of the best ways to spot yourself if you are Pharisee. And the first person you should deal with is always yourself. But as a pastor, when you are thinking of inviting someone as a guest speaker, find out the last meeting they went to they were not platformed at. It’s a question I love asking as it helps me so much know if that guest speaker is the real deal or not. If we can only go to places where we have the spotlight, we love the spotlight not Jesus. If we are different around people, people mean more to us than Jesus.


Pastors Don’t Do This 06: Become Pastor Pharisee (Part 5 – Fail to Practise what You preach!)

In Matthew 23, Jesus talks about what kind of leaders the Pharisees are.

“The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses.So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.

(Matthew 23.2 to 4, NLT)

They say the right things but don’t do the right things. One of the biggest traps ministers fall into is talking a good game, but not living it.

There are two problems with that.

Firstly, people instinctively copy what you do not what you say. You might preach the most amazing sermon on prayer, three points all beginning with the same letter, beautiful illustrations, powerfully taught with Greek and Hebrew. But your people will not pray unless you pray.

Hypocritical leaders produce hypocritical followers.

The second problem is unless you do it, you have no idea how hard it is. If you preach on fasting seven days and don’t do it, then you have no idea how hard it is, so you then over burden your people. You have no empathy to them, you don’t get their battles because they are not your battles.

When I hear an overly harsh preacher I know he is not living it. If he was working out his salvation with fear and trembling, he would be gentle and kind with people, because their battles would be his too.

When a preacher is making impossible demands it’s because he is doing nothing. When a preacher never gives you genuine advice to make your burden lighter it’s because he is not living what he preaches.

We must not be these leaders who burden people and crush them, we must feed them, so we must be authentic and live what we preach and be the same in and out the pulpit.


Pastors Don’t Do This 05: Become Pastor Pharisee (Part 4 – Become an Accuser)

One of the things that happens when we lose our connection and closeness with Jesus and we become Pharisee pastors is that we become very judgmental, and start accusing people. We should not even be accusing people when they have done something wrong.

In John 8.1-11, there is a woman caught in the act of adultery. According to Paul, adultery is the most carnal act you can commit, the most obvious sign of being in the flesh. It breaks one of the big ten commandments. Surely if there is a time to accuse and bring the full weight of truth and holiness on someone, it is an adulterer – someone who is ruining at least one marriage, destroying lives, acting purely selfishly and ignoring the Lord.

But while the Pharisees accused the woman, they picked up stones to hurt her and kill her, they wanted to expose her and ruin her life and reputation. But Jesus never did that. Jesus was not lax on sin, He was very clear “go and sin no more”, but at the same time He never condemned or accused this person.

How much more should we not accuse people who haven’t even done anything wrong? Pharisee Pastors will sit down in a service and look for something to accuse, they will look for a flaw. If you disagree with them on one point, they go crazy over the one point, rather than celebrate the ninety-nine points that bring life and wisdom to them!

Pastor Pharisee does not walk in love. Love expects the best (1 Cor. 13.7 – “ever ready to believe the best of every person”), but Pastor Pharisee expects the worst and is ever ready to believe the worst of every person. When they heard Jesus was casting out devils they presumed it was by the power of the prince of devils. That’s a staggering presumption.

One of the worst things about pastor’s conferences is gossip. People will say things that are utterly not true, but the Pharisee Pastors, so keen to believe the worst, will lap it up, then get offended over it! Jesus managed once to offend every Pharisee that heard him with one sentence once (Matthew 15.12). Some Pharisee pastors will even couch their gossip as prophetic. I once had a prophetic word from a Pharisee pastor that my church was in trouble, but it was not the Spirit of God, it was an accusation against me to ruin my name dressed up in religious clothes. Pharisee Pastors accuse to gain advantage or promotion, for revenge, for power. I don’t really need to let you know that this is not the way of Jesus Christ! If a Pharisee does not know he is righteous, one way to feel righteous is to assault the morality of someone else. It’s an easy thing to do, but it never brings about fruit.

We know in the New Testament that satan is the accuser of the church, Christ is not an accuser, satan is. Choose to be like Christ – speak against sin, but do not condemn. It’s a fine line, but you have the grace to do it. Choose to walk in the spirit not the flesh.


Pastors Don’t Do This 04: Become Pastor Pharisee (Part 3 – Be Prickly Over Small Things)

Jesus told us that the Pharisees “strain at gnats but swallow camels” (Matthew 23.24). It means they got upset by tiny things and didn’t get upset at great big things. I have met pastors like that – really upset that a baby cried in the service, but not upset about how mean they were. I have met many leaders like that and we need to make sure we are not like that!

I recently met a Bible College student who I apparently failed to say hello to at an event. They were very upset about it, and I know that as they told other people how terrible I was. They were upset about a small thing (if I was close enough to say hello to them, they could have come over and said hello to me, amazing how the universe works, and there could be 100 different things that could have distracted me at any time, I run 10 churches! There’s lots of times I am in a meeting and do not have the time to say hello to someone especially if they arrive late and leave early!) – but they were not upset that they were gossiping and slandering me and running me down. The gnat mattered a lot to them, their camel didn’t. That person unless they mature will if they enter the ministry quickly become Pastor Pharisee!

Remember when Jesus used to heal someone on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were really upset it was the wrong day to heal, but not upset that a child of God was sick, which should never be the case. They should have stopped caring about a little essential work on the day off, and cared about getting people healed and saved and delivered.

Pharisee Pastors never care about the lost, never care about getting people healed (unless it makes them look good). In Matthew 12, they did not care that a man couldn’t use his hand, which no doubt affected his income and livelihood, not to mention playing with his children (not to mention playing with his wife). They had zero compassion for something big, but they cared about something tiny.

No rule is more important than Jesus. But that rule is the truth! No – Jesus is the truth! You want to live a life of truth, follow Jesus – He is the truth (John 14.6). The Pharisees loved the gnats but didn’t realize how serious the camels were because they did not know the truth.

I saw someone once in a prayer line. I was sitting near the front of the meeting, and it was a healing meeting, and this young person was in the prayer line ready to pray for people. A little old lady came forward for prayer and asked, hestitantly, for prayer for her arthritis. Well, this young man, and two people with him, started yelling at her, screaming in her face that it was not “her arthritis”. Mark did not have their level of revelation because he said “the woman WITH the issue of blood”, but that’s not the point. The point is if you wanted to correct an old lady, you could do it with respect and kindness, but they in their desperation to get rid of a gnat, let the camel of rudeness, and even meanness, into that prayer line. It was very sad to watch, and the lady turned around and left the meeting. I am not convinced she will ever come forward for prayer again!

Those young people were not close to Jesus, they no doubt had been studying how to pray and how to minister, but they forgot the truth, Jesus is the Truth. When you are a pastor (or any of the fivefold ministry, or aspiring to be) never forget to walk closely with Jesus, that is more important than any gnat-principle you cherish so much! Many churches have been great, many revivals based around restoring a truth to the church have become distant and cool to THE TRUTH, Jesus. Don’t think grace people cannot become ungracious people, they can. Don’t think some people know a lot about Jesus but do not know Him, that happens. Do not become a Pharisee! Spend time with the Lord, be in church – even when you are not being platformed, spend time in the Word – not just to prepare messages, and keep the main things the main things.


Pastors Don’t Do This 03: Become Pastor Pharisee (Part 2 – Leading Where You Have Never Been)

One of the things that happens to me disturbingly regularly is the amount of people who offer to be my pastor. I’ve had people who ran a church into the ground and it closed down offer to pastor me, I’ve had Bible College students who haven’t finished Bible College yet, I’ve had Bible College students who finished college and now do not even go to church, I’ve had pastors who were given churches and never started one and the church they were given has been shrinking. All of these people are acting like Pastor Pharisee and I will not let them be my pastor. Let me explain, again, using the words of Jesus Himself:

They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch (Matthew 15.14)

You see if you are going to pastor people you need to have been where you are leading. You want to have a church where people boldly heal the sick (I ran three healing conferences in March, only went to one of them, but people got healed at all of them, because I have led people into that ministry) you need to have been there, and not be blindly walking into healing hoping you hit one!

Everyone can bump into a healing now and again, especially on a mission trip or in a place where people around are expecting healing. But to lead people to a place where healings are consistent, you have to be able to take the blindfold off and know where you are going – in other words, you need to have been there! You need a proven track record.

I see so many people trying to lead others with no track record. They tell others how to get healed, but they are still sick. They tell others how to get into abundance, but their ministry hasn’t grown financially for years. They tell others how to get free, but they are not free. They are Pastor Pharisees, blind guides leading blind people. And the people will never see because their pastor will never see.

You have to walk with God to be a pastor. You have to forgive. You have to pray when you don’t feel like praying. You have to read the Word. You have to study the Word. You should without a doubt be in conferences and events that don’t platform you. You should be pushing into growth, dealing with your flesh, renewing your mind. You should be stepping out in faith. You absolutely should be tithing and giving above your tithe, even on a pastor’s salary. If not, you have a blindfold on, and you will be leading blind people. Anyone with any insight will leave your church before long, looking for someone who knows what they are talking about!

This is something I have seen far too often to be surprised by it, but it always disappoints me. A pastor is not praying, not reading the Word, not making healthy strong declarations, not living by faith, is living by sight and they end up depressed and defeated. What will happen next if they do not sort themselves out as soon as they can is they will build a stronghold in their mind to justify their behaviour. A stronghold is a collection of thoughts that stop you dealing with behaviour. You will start to say “God loves me no matter what I do” – true, but not helpful here. You will end up saying “God put me in this dark place, it is His will” to avoid dealing with it. You cannot let yourself get there.

I want to challenge every spiritual leader reading this – do not be a Pharisee, do not be a blind leader or the only people following you will be equally blind. Rather, take the blindfold off – turn on some worship music, pray in tongues, open your Bible, repent of your sins, forgive who needs forgiving, be kind, be patient, stop drinking, stop losing your temper, delete the porn on your phone, and kept short accounts with God! It’s that simple.

Take the blindfolds off. If you need help, email me at, and I will do what I can to help you directly or find you help. I want you to win, I want you to be Pastor Victorious not Pastor Pharisee! We are starting a pastor’s alliance in June 2023, and we would love for you to join if you need a place to keep you warm:

Pastors Don’t Do This 02: Become Pastor Pharisee (Part 1 – Thinking You Are the Greatest)

I have seen more than one pastor turn into a Pharisee. Normally, they have been pastoring for a while, and it has not gone so well visibly for them. And then the pastor transforms from being anointed to being a Pharisee. It’s an amazing transformation. How anyone with a Bible can end up like a Pharisee when we know all about how they failed is beyond me, but it happens. There are pastors today far more similar to the Pharisees in the gospel than the Biblical office of a pastor.

In Matthew 23, Jesus chews the Pharisees out for their selfish, religious behaviour. One of his criticisms was “they love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi”. They want prestige and fame and renown, and they don’t necessarily want to do anything to earn it.

I’ve been in big meetings where all the pastors are about who sits where, and so on. I have been deliberately moved to the back before in an attempt to put me in my place! People don’t realize I absolutely don’t care about being sat on the stage, being noticed and so on. But I have seen pastors yelling at each other about who gets to sit next to the great man of God! It’s pathetic and Jesus already told us about it!

The greatest person in Heaven is the biggest servant not the one with the best seat! It’s really that simple. When I speak to Bible College students, I often ask “why do you want to be in ministry” and I never get a good answer. A lot of people just want the prestige.

At a pastor’s conference I was at once, a man came and sat next to me, he said “People are calling you an apostle, how do you get people to call you an apostle”. I said “No one called me an apostle until I had planted four churches, you need to plant more churches than your one church. Is there a town where many people come to your church, or a region or district in your town that a lot of people travel from, maybe start having meetings there and raise up a pastor and start a second church”. He said to me “I do not want to do that, I do not want to plant churches, I want people to call me an apostle”. He said “apostle” in a very holy and religious tone of voice, like ah-poooost-ul, and it was clear that he loved titles!

If the driving force for going to Bible College, for being a pastor, is not to love God and serve God and love people and serve people and it is for acclaimation, you are a modern day Pharisee. We can all fall for this, so pray for me and I will pray for you!

Pastors can get into pride, can get into fear of the opinions of other pastors and can be insecure too. We need to make sure we spend enough time with Jesus so He is the Lord of our lives, He is the peer that pressures us so to speak.

So ask yourself today – do you love positions and titles. Read Matthew 23.6-8 in the Message and ask yourself honestly – is that me!

They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’

You have to reach a place that you don’t care where you sit, where you do anything, what happens, and who notices. You need to be absolutely indifferent to the spotlight. It’s so important. I am seeing more and more travelling ministries who are only in meetings that platform them and that really concerns me, some do not even have a home church! That’s very concerning. I once knew a director of a Bible College who didn’t even go to church. The arrogance that drives that will make someone a modern-day Pharisee.

I was at a conference several years ago, and I had brought nearly one hundred people from my churches to go to the conference. When I arrived I was offered a seat at the front, in fact right next to one of the esteemed guest speakers. I declined because I wanted to use the time to sit with my congregation and minister life to them and build deeper and stronger relationships with them. But when I declined and explained why the people who told me I had the seat could not believe I would ever make that choice and started to tell me I was making the wrong choice. Be careful – the wrong choice is to love the seats at the front!

I know some pastors who are summed up by the phrase “preening in the radiance of public flattery”. It defines them. They have to be praised all the time or they get upset. That’s not how you build the church of Jesus Christ and expend the kingdom. Repent!

Next week, we will continue to look at the dangers and problems of being Pastor Pharisee!

Pastor Don’t Do This 01: Become Earth Bound!

I think that the church as a whole is suffering because it has become earth-bound. It’s great to teach about how to prosper and have abundance. It’s great to help people get promoted, get out of debt, pay their mortgage off early, how to invest, start businesses and be in the market place. I am for all of that. I believe in all of that.

But in addition to that, Jesus actually said to His disciples that if we believeth on Him, we can do the works He did (John 14.12). That’s another level. Well done on completing your pension and paying off your mortgage, but Jesus is talking about raising the dead and turning water into wine and healing everyone in the room and feeding crowds with one loaf of bread. There is a place prepared for each of us in Heaven, so let’s get a bigger visions than passive income!

We should definitely choose getting ready for Heaven and bringing people to Heaven with us. We are in fact told not to lay up for ourselves treasures on the earth, but lay them up in Heaven (Matthew 6.19-20). There’s nothing wrong with having treasures on earth, but never ever think for one second they come anything close to the treasures of Heaven.

I know people who could never leave a well-paying job or career and become a full time pastor. They love money far too much, and deep down they think if someone does that they are stupid. But the ministry is a wonderful way to lay up treasures in Heaven. I know people think I should have a lot more saved for a building fund, but I am aiming to give away £250000 this year to world mission. I want my treasure in Heaven!

There are Christians who would never give to world mission, never serve in a local church, never turn up early or on time for church, never invest in a church – but if there is a business deal, they are early, they are there, they have their bank card out. To me that’s the crazy person! I know born again tongue talkers who pray they will never be called to ministry. I know people who are in ministry and all they talk about is how little money they have.

Listen, we are called as pastors and leaders to do something for Heaven. We are called to lay up treasures in Heaven. So stop those negative attitudes. No wonder so many pastors and Christians never see miracles.

If we are to impact the world in the 21st century, we need the same attitude as the old missionaries. The Puritans, the Methodists, the Salvation Army. The old Methodist missionaries to Africa would pack their belongings in a coffin and sail to Africa, keeping the coffin because they would die there. That’s the attitude that changed the world – treasures in Heaven.

If you love money as a minister, let me prophesy over you: your future is going to be hard and its going to hurt. How about loving God? How about loving Jesus? How about loving the Holy Spirit? He sent Jesus into this world so that we would not perish!

Stop being earth bound. Don’t chase money, it will find you soon enough if you are seeking the kingdom of God. Find out what God wants you to do and do it with all your heart. If it involves selling all you have and giving it to the poor, rejoice. If it involves entering the ministry full-time for 1/3 or 1/4 of what you used to be paid, join the club and sing a happy song as you join it. If it involves going overseas to a nation that does not have all the amenities you are used to, who cares? WE ARE LAYING UP TREASURES IN HEAVEN!

Every pastor and minister should be rejoicing day after day that we are laying up treasures in Heaven!

Character Matters 05 The Golden Rule

Jesus said very clearly that whatever you want people to do to you, you should do also to them (Matthew 7.12). The Passion Translation reads: be careful to treat others in the same way you’d want them to treat you.

That is a standard of character that we all should be keeping to as an absolute minimum. The Nigerians have a proverb: before you stab a bird with a stick, stab yourself, then you will know how it feels to be stabbed with that stick. Godly character involves thinking about how your actions and behaviour as a leader affects other people and their feelings.

We have had to deal with a leader recently who was talking about other leaders behind their back, that was someone who did not consider what it would feel like to have the stick in themselves at all. Even the most basic level of forethought would have made them realize that it is very unpleasant to have people you thought you trusted talk about you behind their back. That person showed a true lack of character.

Character involves thinking about how your actions affect others by considering how you would feel if you were in the same position. As Christian leaders, we need to think about these things and consider others. That is part of being a loving leader. And it is an easy way to consider your actions. You ask yourself before doing something: would I want to be treated that way? We all want to be treated well, so it is an easy way to understand what is the right thing to do in a situation.

There was a pastor who treated me very badly once. They told some people I was a poor man with a small church and not worthy of respect, they lied about me and treated me bad. They thought because our church income was less than ours they could treat me badly. Now, over the years, Tree of Life has grown considerably, and we are larger and much richer than he is. So, I treat him with respect and kindness. I am not treating him how he treated me, that is not character. I am treating him how I would want to be treated. That is what I am talking about.

We often treat people badly because they are not like us, don’t agree with us, or are different from us. That is not the standard people set. You do not treat people according to their income, their talent, their background, their lifestyle. We treat people one way – the way WE WANT TO BE TREATED.

A new person comes to your church? Treat them the way we want to be treated. Have to stand down an elder because of immorality? Stand them down the way you would want to be stood down, with dignity and kindness. Teaching someone a doctrine they are just not getting? Teach them the way you would want to be taught. Having an argument with your wife? Argue the way you would want to be argued with. This principle in Matthew 7.12 can bring you to a place of expressing character in any situation.

You see a lot of people think doing the right thing is hard, it’s not – you do not have to study philosophy, read the whole Bible, pray in tongues for hours – you just have to think – how would I want to be treated if I was in this situation, and treat the other person the same way.

As a leader sometimes you do not know where to go next – well, this is like north. You can always use this principle as a compass to find out what to do next.