Loyalty 8: Signs of Disloyalty 5 – the Backstab

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This is the final posting on signs of disloyalty, but there will be a couple more posts on the concepts and the importance of loyalty coming up!  My name is Benjamin Conway, and I pastor the Tree of Life Church, and you are going to have a great time reading this blog!

So far we have looked at the signs of disloyalty, and found out that it starts small – with independence, then with some passivity, then criticisms, then it starts to leak out as the person becomes a church politician and tries to build a power base based entirely on criticism and negativity.  This is not pie in the sky – these things happen in businesses, in families, in churches all the time.  We need to be prepared and we need to be aware.  The Holy Spirit is a gentle dove, not an ostrich that puts its head in the sand and pretends problems are not there.  The reason we have to spot the signs of disloyalty – the subtle independence as someone doesn’t do your study, but their study; the passive person who suddenly drops off all the rotas, the person who “is only trying to help” but is just ripping down everything the people who are working are doing, and then the person mingling around the church during the teas on a Sunday letting everyone know they are not as happy as they used to be – is because disloyalty ends up with a backstab.

Just like a kettle that is getting warmer and starting to steam will eventually boil over, disloyalty that starts with passivity if not checked will end up with a backstab.

This is the final stage of disloyalty – you will be betrayed.  When the person gets enough of a power base they think they can do something about it, they will start to attack you openly.  There are three different ways this attack will come:

1.  An attack on your capability

2.  An attack on your character

3.  An attack on your credibility

The first one is about your ability to lead and run the church.  People will point out the mistakes you have made (if you are part of a successful, growing ministry you will have made mistakes, you will have taken risks some of which won’t have worked, you will have made mistakes.  That’s what people doing things do.  Passive people never made mistakes because they are risking nothing, doing nothing, reaching no-one, helping nobody, and doing no good for the kingdom), will harp on about money they feel was squandered because an outreach programme didn’t work, will claim that you no longer are capable of making good decisions.  This is how Absalom dealt with David – every time David acted as a mediator, 

The second attack that offended, religious people make is against your character.  They will tell you that you don’t pray enough, don’t read the Bible enough, that you don’t give enough, that you are unloving, that you are too mean, too harsh, too soft.  What generally happens is people find things about your personality and attack them as if they were a character flaw.  Character is about integrity, personality is about who we are.   It’s awesome that God creates everyone different – some people like comedies, others action films, other romance.  What happens is that when people want to assassinate the character of someone who has good character they attack their personality.  Some people are loud, others are quiet.  So if you are loud, they tear you apart for being abrupt, for being a party animal, too shallow, for being this and that.  If you are quiet, you are attacked for being timid, and too quiet, and not charismatic enough.  If you like a certain sport or TV programme you are called worldly, if you don’t watch sports or TV you are called a Pharisee in an ivory tower.

The third attack is your credibility.  People will just blatantly say you can’t do it – you can’t run the team, lead the church, get the ministry out of debt.  They won’t even offer evidence – they are not thinking logically they are boiling over with rage and they don’t want to have a discussion they want to have an argument.  They won’t accept any explanation for their behaviour and their opinions.

When people start making blatant attacks against your character and your personality – then everyone around has to make a choice to stay loyal or not.  This is when a church splits.  People follow the backstabber, others stay.  Others get so confused they drop out of church completely.  

If you haven’t spotted the signs before this point, and you are being backstabbed then you need to take urgent and rapid action to protect your heart and your future.  This is why we try and notice disloyalty and deal with it earlier!

But if it is at this late stage there are a number of steps you should take today:

1.  Remove the backstabber from all positions of leadership immediately.  You are not about to let this person keep having influence you give them.  In Scripture, pastors appoint elders not the other way around!

2.  Don’t get upset at people leaving – some of them were never with you in the first place.  Better you know that now.  Focus on those who stay.  Show them love, preach life and grace to them, help them walk in victory.  Keep going for their sake.

3.  Deal with bitterness.  Get rid of it.  Forgive the backstabber.  Love them to pieces.

4.  Don’t let them back into your inner sanctum of friends again.  Not after a significant amount of time and proving.  They can be welcome in the church if you feel comfortable, but keep a fence between you and them.  Don’t give them the bullets to shoot you with.

If you need any help dealing with backstabbers – or you have experience or wisdom you want to share please comment below!

Grace and peace,

Benjamin

 

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Loyalty 7: Signs of Disloyalty 4: POLITICS!

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The next stage of disloyalty after turning critical is turning political.  Political people damage a church and need to be handled carefully and firmly.  You know when you are boiling a kettle, before it boils over you see and hear the steam escaping.  That is the political stage – it doesn’t boil over yet, but it will start to be noticeable.  Remember the Bible is clear: a bitter root is infectious (Hebrews 12.15).

It amazes me when someone comes to me and says “Do you know Brother X?  He is getting a little disheartened at church.”  I wonder why Brother X told that person, I wonder why that person didn’t challenge them, and I wonder why that person is telling me.  The answer is that people just before they betray a church get involved in church politics.  A church without politics is a church moving forward.  If you remember the previous stages (independence, passivity and criticism) of disloyalty and offense, you will remember that before the political stage, the person has stopped helping the church and is now looking for reasons to pick the church apart.  Because misery loves company, they are looking for ways to now influence other passive and independent and critical people and build a power base in the middle of your church.

Pastor – you have spent blood, sweat and tears building the church – don’t let a donkey rip it apart by playing politics.  It is easy done!  I found when our church was 5 people no one really wanted a power base, now we are larger people want a piece of the pie.  We have had people sneak off with our elders and offer them roles in their churches, ask for secret offerings for their businesses and secret investments into their stock, people holding secret prophetic meetings because we are not prophetic enough.  People will try anything to build their power base out of your ministry rather than go into all the world and make disciples!  And the way they do it is through church politics.

After the service, where everyone else is packing, serving, cleaning and counting, you wander around infecting people.  “The preacher went on too long today”, “too harsh”, “too soft”, “worship was a bit bland today”.  The politician wants power – they want the church to accommodate them and only them.  The favourite phrase of the politician is “a lot of people are saying that…”

This process could take a lot of time.  Absalom spent two years in the passive state, doing nothing in the kingdom, then suddenly became a politician (see 2 Sam. 15.3) visiting people that the king could not help and told them “it’s a pity the king has no time for you”, “it’s a pity he is not taking care of you.”  Politicians tell people what they want to hear: “David’s getting older, finding it tough to cope, just a figurehead…”

It happens in churches: “how did you find the service?  I thought it was dry today”, “as a faith church, you’d think there’d be some miracles today”, “our pastor works a little hard”.  It’s infectious.  They make their snide comments as a way to disparage other people from loyalty, to discourage them from serving.  To build their own power base.

A politician will go around the church seeking who they can devour… seeking who they can influence.  You need to teach your people how to resist politicians.  You need to resist them yourself! 

There are a number of ways to deal with politicians.  Here are three:

1. The North Wind Face

Read Proverbs 25.23.   It says that as the north wind drives away rain, an angry face can drive away criticism.  You can drive away small, infectious thoughts with one angry face.  You need a face that says “I am not going down that line”.   People start to come out with their political lines, give them the northwind face.  As a young man in a charismatic church I was sitting next to my house group leader, one of the kindest people I have ever met.  At the end of the service, the pastor – who had started the church in his house and taken it up to hundreds, took a second offering.  Being a Baptist boy, the idea of a second offering offended me and I started to get offended and disloyal.  I turned to my house group leader and said to her “what’s he taking a second offering for”.  My tone was critical, my question was disloyal.  Well, this lady looked at me and glared.  Her face said about 4 pages – and the largest type in the four pages was “who are you to ask such a question?”… her northwind face drove away all my critical attitude.  You need a face like that!

2. Fire Test

In Acts 28.3, a viper jumped out the fire and bit Paul.  How did the viper get in the fire?  The fire was made of sticks, and the viper in the cold would have been sleeping and looked similar to a stick.  It wasn’t until the fire started that its true nature was revealed.  Vipers look harmless until the fire starts!

Time is a good fire – test people with time.  Let’s you know who the snakes are.  Difficult circumstances is a good fire.  Change is a good fire – change some procedures and that will show you who is a snake in disguise as a stick.

Be wary of promoting or devoting to people who have never been in a fire – you don’t really know them.

3. Teaching Like This!

We need to explain to people that as they warm up that they are in danger of boiling over and let them know how to deal with this.  Let them know at the danger of offense is that it stops you dreaming big because it floods your thoughts with small thoughts.

Some people don’t like me teaching on loyalty.  Some pastors say not to do it, then they get stabbed in the back.  Let’s not sweep stuff under the carpet, let’s deal with this and create a place where people are free from politics and free from disloyal, offended, critical, passive, independent church politicians.

Making Great Relationships – A Key to Fulfilling Your Destiny

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Hi there, my name is Benjamin Conway and I am the pastor of Tree of Life Church, and the founder of the Tree of Life Network.  Every week I pen a Bible study for our elders to use in their homes to disciple and lead people into walking in their dreams.  This week I felt the Holy Spirit lead me to put the study online with the small group questions.  Hope you are blessed with this.  If this does help you, consider sharing it so others can also be inspired and challenged.

Poor relationships don’t destroy your walking in your dreams – your unwillingness or ignorance on how to deal with them does.  1 Cor. 15.33 says that “bad company corrupts good character.”  In terms of our dreams, there are people that help you dream big and people who don’t.  The bad crowd will corrupt you, and this word means to take away purity.  Your dreams are pure – they are holy and come from God and are just God’s voice to you.  Someone will come along and contaminate your dreams with one sentence: you can’t be called to that, you’ll never get over that, you can’t enjoy that, people from round here don’t achieve that.  Then suddenly all your mental energy is dealing with that 1 tiny thought rather than soaring with your dreams.

So how do we deal with this?  Obviously, we cannot lock ourselves away from the world.  Firstly, we must be very careful who we share our dreams with.

In Matthew 7.6 (read it), Jesus says don’t give the pure to the dogs.  Dogs in the culture of the Hebrews and Greeks represented impurity and a lack of cleanliness.  If you give a dog a bone, they will bite it.  If you give a dog your dream they will bite it.  Dogs are territorial, they are nice until you invade their space then they attack.  Having a big dream invades people’s space: they are psyching themselves up to enduring the next 30 years in the office, you are dreaming of launching your own company.  They are dreaming of surviving the world as a Christian, you are dreaming of going into nations and changing lives.  You invade their small territory when you share your big dream and you make them turn on you.

Jesus then says “don’t show your pearls off to swine”.  First dogs now pigs!  The problem with pigs and pearls is that pigs don’t know the value of anything.  They will trample your dreams because they don’t know the value of reading the Word, being in a strong church, living for God, ministering life, being the head and not the tail, confessing the Word.  So they will tear you apart.  Pigs only get what they can eat or roll in.  So they see a pearl they crush it – then they attack you for having something they see as worthless.

So – who should you share your dreams with?  I believe everyone needs a mentor (or two), a peer (or some) and a mentee (or a dozen).  These three healthy relationships will give you a place to share your dreams, meditate your dreams, be challenged, inspired and encouraged and walk in your dreams.  Throughout the Bible, people had good healthy relationships: Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Timothy, Peter and John, James and John, Jesus and Peter.  Businesses around the world are copying mentorship but the idea comes right from the Bible.

Your success in life – is about walking down a path.  Easiest way to get somewhere is to follow someone who has been there.  That is what a mentor does – they are walking in their dreams and there is a significant overlap with their dreams and yours.  They will support your dream.  Proverbs 13.20 says that by “walking with the wise, you become wise” – so make sure your mentors are proven to be wise:  They have success in front of them.  They have dealt with enemies, they have killed the dream killers, navigated the difficult path and now they can impart wisdom to you.

This person may or may not be a friend – friends love your past, mentors love your future.  Friends overlook weaknesses, mentors challenge weaknesses.  Not cheerleader, but the coach. 

Avoid the DOGS and PIGS and get someone who can see further than you in your life.  The more awesome the mentor, the more awesome you can end up.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD MENTOR?

1. A person with a good track record- A track record clearly shows us what the person has achieved or accomplished. This does not mean that they will have a perfect track record, meaning they will have experienced failures and made mistakes. But the overall track record should show that they have maintained their character and integrity while producing results in their field or industry. Look at the track record of a person to determine if they are worth being mentored by or not.

2. A person who stretches you- The person who mentors you should cause you to break out of your normal routines and your comfort zone. They should stretch you toward new levels of success. Proverbs 27: 17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” The sharpening of your skills and abilities only happen when you have the right people (mentors) around you. Take time to see if your potential mentor is seeking and willing to be stretched themselves. This will determine if they would be a person who will stretch you and challeng your comfort zone.

3. A person who inspires you- It’s imperative to find a mentor whose actions and attitude inspires you to be and do better. They should believe in you and have your best interest in mind. While at the same time being able to challenge (being firm or tough about) your actions, thoughts, and motives. They should know how to inspire you and discipline you, depending on the situation. Be careful about picking your mentor because they will either lift you to a new level or prevent you from reaching your maximum effectiveness and potential.

HOW DO I GET A MENTOR?

You have to pay the price to get into their presence.  The more you are around them the more you learn.  Share your heart with them – share your mistakes with them.  Tell them your dreams – and where you can’t see the future!  Be fiscally generous with them.  Follow their wisdom.    A good mentor is a shelter in the storms of life – someone who supports your dream, isn’t territorial and knows the value of things.

DON’T SHORT CIRCUIT THE MENTOR RELATIONSHIP – this is a key to absolutely fulfilling your dreams.  When you have a dream, and start stepping out into that dream, the mentor will appear!

Simple principles:

  1. Don’t hate your mentor!  People who have been where you want to go can help you – but you have to listen and apply their wisdom, you have to admit you don’t know it all.  It’s like medicine that stings – but it will make you better!
  2. Go at their pace – even if you can’t!  People who push you to do more than you think you can (remember last session – monotony and hard work) can annoy you.  You are happy being lazy and mediocre – and someone comes along and says you can do more, be more, achieve more.  If you envy someone’s success let that drive you to follow them.  Not drive you to hate them or ignore them.
  3. You learn by mentor or by mistake!  The arrogant learn through mistakes, the humble learn by mentor – they know more than me, so I will absolutely take their advice.
  4. Third parties will hate this relationship.  It will drive the dogs and pigs mad!  They will do whatever they can to destroy it.  “You going to THAT church?!” “You hanging around with that old guy again?”  “Who do you think you are?”
  5. A good mentor will never force you to learn – Jesus didn’t and you can’t … if you don’t ask the question, it will never be answered!

PEERS

Jesus sent people out in twos.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  So you have peers – people with a similar calling and similar stage of life.  I have a couple of pastors up north – who I just love.  They are my peers.  Not mentors – they haven’t been where I haven’t, but they have been where I have.

A mentor shows you the path, a peer helps you enjoy the journey!  It’s the missing ingredient in your journey!  Find some people who know what you and have been where you have been.

The mentor chews you out for missing something obvious.  It’s good to have someone else who has been chewed out the same.  It’s great to know you are not alone.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

PEERS have to be careful too:

  1. Ambition and competition can kill a peer relationship.  Certain conversations you just don’t have: for example, about how successful you are because they are not your competition.  Never correct a peer – correct a mentee, never correct a peer.  The relationship is more important – you need all the peers you can get.
  2. It needs to be a low-maintenance relationship.  That’s one where you don’t talk for weeks, months and years and you just pick off exactly where you left off.  It just doesn’t work otherwise.  It has to be a “No demand” relationship.  The mentor is high demand he tells you to march, the peer helps you stop and smell the flowers.  The mentor tells you how far to go, a good peer reminds you of how far you have come.
  3. It needs to be an agenda-less relationship.  One of the relationships I had that I considered a peer has just fizzled out – not through lack of time but through lack of respect.  They just kept asking to preach at the church.  Again and again and again and again.  That lack of respect of a peer killed the relationship – don’t use a friendship to try and get something.  People know.

Finally you need some MENTEES.  People you are helping grow.  You need to invest your life into people – yes, even you.  You know things other people do not know.   (If you want to do this in a church setting, we have a Leadership Course on Saturday 7th December at 9am-1am, let me know if you are interested).  You need to ask God for some wisdom as to who to invest in.  Some people you cannot ever help (people who don’t think they have a problem, people who think their problem is insurmountable, and people who think you are their problem).   Life isn’t about learning all you can – it’s also about serving and leading and learning.  So is church!  THERE IS A JOY IN SEEING SOMEONE ELSE STEP UP AND DO SOMETHING THEY HAVE NEVER DONE BEFORE, or ACHIEVE RESULTS THEY HAVE NEVER ACHIEVED BEFORE – if you haven’t got involved in that joy before then you are missing out!  And these relationships help you realize your dreams.  Helping other people walk in their dreams is the big step to seeing your own dreams come true.  This is one of the reasons it is so important to be in Living Church.

QUESTIONS

  1. How can bad company affect your ability to dream?
    1. What kind of people was Jesus talking about when he talked about dogs and pigs?
    2. Have you ever suffered because you ignored Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 7.6?
    3. Why do you need a mentor in your life?  What makes a good mentor?  Who are your mentors?
    4. Why do you need peers?  Who makes a good peer?  Who are your peers?
    5. Why do you need mentees?  What makes good mentees?  Who are your mentees?
    6. Do you want us to agree with you for wisdom and boldness to find and cultivate healthy relationships?