When our then Prime Minister Gordon Brown was overheard calling a member of the public asking him questions a “bigoted woman”, he apologized. His apology contained these words:
Sometimes you say things that you don’t mean to say, sometimes you say things by mistake and sometimes when you say things you want to correct it very quickly.
You see what happens with politicians is there is two dialogues going on. The private dialogue and the public dialogue. Gordon Brown thought he was in private, so his private thoughts came out, he thought that woman was a bigot. But – as a politician – as someone who needs to impress the people – his public words could not have said that as it clearly did not impress people.
(I am not picking on one politician or one party here, all of them have a dual dialogue – a private thoughts and a what is released to the public, it’s just in this illustration, the words of Gordon Brown are very clear to this dual thoughts).
Because politicians have to impress people all the time, they hold their cards close to the chest, it is hard to know what they actually think or believe on any topic, because they will not tell you, they will tell you what they think the party line is, what they think the right thing to say is, what they think the key people and the majority think.
This dual process leads to politicians invariably doing three things. Now, again, it’s fine for politicians to be politicians, but when it is people in ministry and church leaders becoming politicians these actions restrict the kingdom of God from manifesting:
- They will warn you away from other people. Jesus never did that. He never warned people about other people, in fact He said if you are not actively against him then you are for him. He said by their fruits you will know them. I have had several times in my life where someone had taken me out for a quiet lunch to warn me away from another minister I know. They will suggest the person’s character is doubtful. I never ever listen to those things. I will not do it. You see, I do what Jesus says, I know people by their fruit. And it’s always the unfruitful that do it, because they don’t realize how important fruit is and don’t respect fruit. I was once warned off a person who ran a Bible College with over a hundred students and told not to go preach there by a person who planned one day to start a Bible College. Which has more fruit? Where is the godly wisdom in that? It’s politics. It’s making sure that you don’t upset one group of people by respecting another. It’s crazy and it is not kingdom minded. Don’t be a gossip, don’t listen to rumour. Don’t follow it, watch for fruit, build your own friends, and enjoy the company of people – especially Christians who are not from your tribe! Don’t be clannish!
As a pastor, I have to deal with this too. Sometimes someone leaves the Tree of Life Church family offended and bitter. I don’t really want our people to hang out with those people, bitterness is infected. I assume our people know better than to hang out with someone bitter at their church, they are too wise to listen to gossip and slander that will make it harder for them to walk in their destiny. But sometimes I am shocked when I hear people I respect in the church are in the ship with people who are attacking me, hating me, trying to wreck our church. But I will not warn people away, because I am not a politician, I am not trying to control the narrative. I am not trying to control your fellowship or friendship. And hanging around the bitter and offended is just a sign of deep immaturity, and you cannot really correct immaturity, only feed people with faith and love. Besides, saying it only puts a big arrow on it and feeds the negative relationship. Learn to hold back on this, don’t celebrate it, but don’t correct it either, just tolerate it, let it be, and let it die.
- Politicians will always do whatever it takes to avoid conflict. They hate conflict, they hate people having different opinions because they are unsure which side to take, because they do not choose sides based on fruit or personal integrity, they choose sides based on politics. This means that they are bland. Their comments are bland, their preaching is bland, their social media is bland. We have seen this across the world as media has increased in influence, all politicians have become more grey, less flamboyant, more centrist – and in all of that, less authentic. If you post something even mildly controversial, they will not be impressed. Often these politicians in the church, rather than generation new material and new wisdom, and study the Word and pray about how to edify and bless others, but will spy on the social media, and the media of others and try and make what they say more bland or more neutral. I have lost count of the number of people who have contacted me on the TV ministry, the radio ministry or our social media, and contacted me and said that I said something too strong, or too direct. They want me to be less of a king and more of a politician! And then you look at their social media and you realize it is an echo chamber without anything that is not 100% accepted by their political party. It is not reigning like a king, it is not challenging or inspiring people, it is not lifting people to a new level. A politician cannot knight someone, only a king can. A politician can only expose and pull down and try and remove the spice from kings! When someone is contacting you and asking you to be more politic in the way you say things, they are trying to cancel out your kingly authority, to reduce you to their level, and to destroy your distinctiveness.
If you make everything so bland as to not offend anyone, you will never command a storm to cease, never pull someone out of a wheelchair, and never teach someone a life changing truth. You might be feeding a few people a few scraps, and they are so grateful for it, but you will never start a revolution with politics!
- All politicians will avoid danger. Jesus taught us the difference between hirelings and shepherds. Shepherds will run towards danger because they love the sheep. Hirelings will run from danger because they love themselves. When people sense true danger, you see their true colours. Kings lead their people into battle, politicians avoid all battle. You will see politicians fitting into positions in churches and ministries where there is no conflict. You won’t see them on the front line. They need to be insulated from the front line. It’s a hallmark of all politicians.
You need to surround yourself with kings. You need a pastor who is a king, who is a called shepherd who will lead you to green pastures and still waters no matter what way the sheep vote on. You need to learn how to drown out the voices that tell you who you can fellowship with, what you can say and how you can say it until you are as bland as they are – the flavour of water and the colour of magnolia!
Learn how politicians behave, then walk away!