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):
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!