You Are Not Smarter than Jesus 01: Be Aware of Human Nature

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I was talking to someone over the weekend about pastoral ministry and they had some questions about how to deal with a certain situation they were facing as a pastor, as I encouraged them from the Word of God on how to proceed, they said something that has been resonating in my spirit last night and this morning. They said: “Some pastors seem to think they are smarter than Jesus.”

I agree – when I see churches relegate healing to yesteryear and/ or side rooms away from the main services, I think well, Jesus did not do that, He healed in the middle of the room and made a big deal of it. I see a number of issues like that, where pastors are trying to outsmart Jesus!

But one area in particular I think a lot of pastors think they are smarter than Jesus is in human relationships. A lot of pastors think that good pastoring is trusting everyone and letting everyone do what they want. That is not good pastoring and that is not what Jesus did.  Look at John 2.24:

But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, (John 2.24 KJV)

But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (John 2.24, NLT)

Jesus, however, was wary of these believers. He understood people (John 2.24, GWT)

Jesus himself did not trust certain people, even believers, because He understood human nature.  Yes, Jesus loved everyone, and that is a good things to do, but loving everyone does not mean trusting everyone. Do not tell everyone your plans, do not promote everyone, do not let everyone speak in your pulpit or even in your small groups!

One element of good pastoring and leadership is understanding human nature. Let me tell you 7 types of people that you should never trust as a pastor (in fact, in any leadership position):

  1. Never trust the people who cannot answer a straight question, even if their answer sounds really religious. If you ask someone “I missed you Sunday, you weren’t at church” and their answer is “I was just in the will of God, brother” or “I am blessed”, do not trust that person. I know human nature, and when someone is secretive it is because they have something to hide.
  2. Never trust the people who only want your money and reject your wisdom. Your first ministry to people as a pastor is to provide them with wisdom, not cash. If they want the cash but not the wisdom, they are not your sheep, let them walk.
  3. Never trust the people who have not a nice word to say about their last church.  You will offend them quicker than you can imagine. Understand human nature – you are not so amazing that someone that thin-skinned will just love you and be fine in your church.
  4. Never trust the people who cannot stand correction. You know the people when you ask them to do something differently just get annoyed, upset and have 100 reasons why their way is best.
  5. Never trust someone who cannot keep your calendar, they are not part of you. Do you know that in England we do not celebrate the American Day of Independence?  Other nations have their own national days? The days you keep reveal the tribe you are in. We had an elder who would always do things on a different day – if I said let’s all fast Tuesday, he would always have a reason to fast Wednesday, and so on. He eventually told lies about me and tried to start his own church. The calendar is an amazing revelation of the hearts of men.  Remember Jesus told 500 people to wait in Jerusalem, because Jesus’ calendar was the outpouring of the Spirit would begin on the day of Pentecost – but only 120 people actually turned up for that day.  They couldn’t keep Jesus’ calendar and they missed out on the birth of the church!
    When people miss your annual healing and revival conference because “I booked my holiday to Barbados because it was cheap that week” or they miss your carol service because “the church down the road was having an event that looked nice”, love those people – love them to bits. But don’t trust them!
  6. Never trust someone who cannot serve. If they cannot put out chairs, make a cup of tea or carry some items around they are not leadership material. If they will not go out of their way to teach one or two or three people, they are not teachers. If Jesus is there when one or two gather, but you see someone only go for the big chair and big meetings, they are not like Jesus! One of the great things about always planting new churches is you can train new preachers in smaller churches and not only train them, but get a great revelation about their heart!
  7. Never trust someone who cannot forgive. If they are easily offended and hold grudges you will be on the receiving end of that offendedness before you know it. You have to realize that if someone is bitter it is entirely because they are a bitter person, and it has absolutely zero to do with the person who offended them, no matter their behaviour. If they are a bitter person, they will end up bitter at you as you lead them. You may say I’m a cynic, I say I know human nature. I say this is Christ-like behaviour. Never promote a bitter man. Never let them have your pearls, they will eventually stamp them into the ground, and then turn on you.

As a bonus, just incase some of you need to hear this:

8. Never trust a liar.

Amazing that needs to be said today, but it does. In fact, I have had people say I am acting in a non-Christian way by refusing to believe the words of a liar. They tell me that the person is just unsure of the truth or they are speaking from a political point of view. I then get told I should be more politic. No way – I am a pastor, appointed by a king, an ambassador of the Lord of Heaven Himself – I do not play politics, and the whole political agenda of some churches and ministries makes me want to vomit. I am not a politician. A politician is appointed by people and therefore has to please the people. A pastor is appointed by the Lord and has to please the Lord.

Remember Jesus Christ said it is the truth that sets you free – when someone is lying they are taking a path to bondage. When you tolerate that, you are denying the Lordship of the Holy Spirit and leading the whole church out of freedom into bondage, the exact opposite of a pastoral ministry!

Leading With the Word 01: Prophets and the Bible

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Today we are starting a new series which I believe will benefit all pastors everywhere.  One of the most important roles of a pastor – or any leader – is to lead people to be more based and more secure on the Word of the Lord, the Scripture.  So we are going to give some short lessons on how to “Lead With the Word”.

Firstly, I want to deal with something which I did think the church as a whole had dealt with, but sadly is coming around again. At our church Christmas meal last night, I noticed a few of the young men were wearing really skinny ties.  I remember when that came into fashion last time, and then went out of fashion. It all comes round again! And it is sadly the same with false ideas in the church – and somehow it seems to me a whole bunch of false ideas in the church gather around how we understand the office of a prophet.

I am still meeting Christians who are changing the whole course of their life because of something a so-called prophet said to them – I mean marrying someone, changing geography, changing church, changing all sorts of things – not because the Spirit of the Lord led them, but because a prophet said so. Now is this Biblical – that is the only question I have about this, or any, practice.  Is this what the Bible tells us to do?

You see if you do not understand the role of a prophet, you could have your entire life destroyed because of a false prophet – someone claiming to be a prophet.

So, let’s phrase the question clearly: are we supposed to receive guidance in our lives from prophets?

And let me make the answer as clear as I can: NO!  Did you get that? Let me say it again… NO! Let me make it even clearer:

NO!

You are not, under any circumstances, supposed to receive guidance from prophets. Ever. Not at all.

If you are living in the New Testament, and according to the calendar you are, then you should be guided by the Spirit of God and the Word of God. Romans 8.14 tells us that God’s sons are led by God’s Spirit.

Are you saying that there is no role for prophets? No – I am saying their role is not to guide but to equip (Ephesians 4.11 tells us prophets are to equip the saints).

In the Old Covenant, you had to go to a prophet to hear God for you because not everyone had the anointing.  But in the New Covenant, everyone has the anointing, and everyone can hear God for themselves. And the prophet is just supposed to equip you to hear God better and function prophetically better. They are not ever supposed to do it for you, and if they do they are false, and you will be manipulated and your life will mess up.

Not only that, when the prophets speak you do not need to accept it 100% no matter what, and you are not in rebellion to the Lord to ponder and analyse and consider a word from a prophet.  Paul is very clear: Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the others judge (1 Cor. 14.29).  What is unscriptural is to just accept a word from a prophet and fail to judge and examine it – which is what some are sadly doing today to their own ruin.

So today, when you have a major life choice, or even a minor decision – don’t seek the prophet, seek the Lord!  Learn to flow with the Spirit and follow the principles of the Word and the peace in your heart.

Lies That Stop the Harvest 10: Ignorance of Good Soil

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Some people do not know the difference between good soil and bad soil. The quality of the soil affects the return from the seed – which is why Jesus never bothered debating the Pharisees and you should not throw your pearls before swine: because they didn’t have a clue what was going on.

You are anointed – if people cannot perceive it, just keep bearing fruit.

But this same Jesus stopped the whole crowd to spend a day with a wicked, traitorous man called Zacchaeus. Why?  Because Jesus took the time to examine the soil and sow into good soil.

Two thieves were crucified next to Jesus, one entered heaven and the other entered hell. Why? One was good soil, and Jesus responded to the good soil. The other just mouthed and yelled hatred, and Jesus backed off.

Jesus taught the importance of observing the quality of the soil you sow into in Mark 4.3-8, explaining that the harvest is produced by good soil.

So, how can you tell what is good soil to give into as a Christian?

  • Good soil is giving. I absolutely refuse to sow into a non-giver as there will never be a return for me.
  • Good soil is productive. I don’t give into the hands of non-workers. Paul was strong on this, he said if you don’t work you are out of order (2 Thess. 3.11), and that we should have nothing to do with them (2 Thess. 3.14) and that they should not eat (2 Thess. 3.10). You are wasting everyone’s time by giving to someone who is not productive. Do not give to someone who will not take work when the doors open for work.
  • Good soil knows about prosperity. I will never give to a church or ministry that is against the prosperity of God.
  • Good soil is teachable. If you are giving to people within a local church setting, insure that your giving includes you sitting down with them and going over their bank statements. If they don’t want your wisdom, why give them your money?
  • Good soil is young ministers. The young guys are the ones pouring their lives and hearts into the into the gospel, they have left good jobs and the promise of a great career to serve God. They don’t have the power of momentum and a big mailing list and so on, they don’t have a great large ministry and reputation. I love sowing into people like that.
  • Good soil is teaching financial abundance. I love to give to ministries that are teaching prosperity and helping people to find prosperity. Some of those ministries have been attacked by the church so much, to help so many with the Word.
  • Good soil is those who have been faithful and loyal to those God sent them to
  • Good soil is those who have given you correction and wisdom
  • Good soil is those who have given you help when you needed it

You need to be asking the Father where you should sow.  It’s not to the guy who cries the loudest, or who makes you feel the most guilty, or so on. It’s the good soil you need to sow into.

Lies That Stop the Harvest 09: A Failure to Ask

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Ask and it shall be given to you – Jesus (Matthew 7.7)

Jesus said ask and you will get it. Despite what your grandmother told you that “askers don’t git”, that’s not true according to the Lord and Creator of the Universe. You need to ask. And that doesn’t just mean asking God, but it includes that. Let’s look at some asking that you could do this week to increase the return on your giving.

  • Ask God for a specific amount of money in prayer. Don’t wish for it, don’t dream of it – but ask for it outloud. A specific amount.
  • Ask your boss for a pay rise
  • Ask your boss for more work and more training (both of which will lead to an increase in your value)
  • Ask someone for some financial advice
    • But ask the right person! Don’t ask someone who is broke. The amount of people who pastor less than 50 people who want to give me advice on pastoring is unreal, but I take my advice from the people who pastor hundreds and thousands. Hence, I get practical wisdom that is proven. It’s the same for money – ask for financial advice from people richer than you!
    • Ask at the right time – when the person has time and the ability to focus on you. Don’t hassle them when they are about to work, about to do something or are tired.
  • Ask someone in the shop for a lower price on what you are about to buy
  • Ask a financial planner for some help
  • Ask a major creditor to wipe out or reduce your loan

When Jesus said ask and receive, for you to fail to ask is like saying you don’t really believe Jesus. Perhaps this is one of the reasons you are failing to walk in your harvest.