Pastors Behaving Badly 03: Dealing With Other Pastors in Your Town

Pastors Unity Prayer (4) |

The eye cannot tell the hand I don’t need you! And we, as pastors, are placed in towns and cities with other pastors. They don’t go to your church, they don’t think like you think, they have different ideas than you, your church doesn’t look like their church. Sometimes people who you rely on walk out of your church into theirs! Sometimes people they rely on walk out of their church into yours!

We need to be cordial with these people, and not be pastors behaving badly regarding other pastors. I am not saying all these other pastors will or even can be your best friends, you are unique and doing your thing. In fact, I tend to stay away from local pastor’s gatherings for several reasons:

  • It is not a good use of my time. Those kind of meetings rarely generate useful ideas or plans to help do what the Lord has called me to do.
  • Often there is a lot of conflict in those meetings, pastors can despise other pastors, disregard them, and they are always wary of the new kid on the block! They want to suss you out, and it’s not a nice experience.
  • You get to avoid a whole bunch of interchurch politics.
  • You get to spend time before God and finding out what God wants you to do rather than copying others!
  • A lot of times these gatherings are run under the banner of a control freak of a pastor who thinks all churches in the town are really accountable to him and should do things his way, sometimes even asking for money from the other churches in town!

You are a unique individual and if you are called to your town, then you do not need anyone else to approve or validate your call. If you are part of a movement or denomination, you should be drawing from there more than anywhere else. They opened the door for your ministry and you must honour that and never forget that, not someone who just happens to be closer!

There is a case for these meetings, if you can get the input and ideas of others and learn more about your city from pastors, but this rarely happens, I hate to say. However, we still need to be delicate when it comes to relating to local ministers. We need to not be the badly behaving pastors in our town and we can do that in several ways:

  • Never ever use your pulpit to speak evil of any minister or churc hin your town. If you speak about them, remember what Nana used to say: if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything. Remember what Paul used to say to a pastor: speak evil of no man (Titus 3.2)
  • If you need to deal with a practise or teaching in another church that is infecting your church, one that is not encouraging people to walk in victory, is not Biblical or just plain bizarre, address the issue and compare it to the Bible, there is no need to name names.
  • Do not mock or make jokes about other churches or ministers in your church, it will be taken the wrong way by someone.

You need to be like David – don’t kill Saul! If you kill Saul, that’s how other people will treat you. If you get down in the mud for others, they will get down in the mud for you. David acted terribly as king – he failed so badly, and impregnated Bathsheda, murdered Uriah, but hie men never thought “kill him and take the kingship” – why? Because he built that into them. If you never get dirty with others, you build it into your culture and if you fall in the mud your people will not kick you while you are down.

Now as a pastor you must expose your people to other ministry gifts, you must invite evangelists, prophets, teachers to your church to equip your people. Never be insecure, you are still the pastor, you are still the father of the house, but people need the full fivefold to help them grow. Here are some things about guest ministers you must realize:

  • If you are not confident in another minister coming and not sure what they might say or do, do not invite them. Do not let people use your church to start a church near them. We had a group of missionaries want to come to our church to do a short-term mission, and someone asked if I would take them. This person was not normally keen on our church and my radar went off, and I did some research, turns out the missionaries wanted to start a church in London and lacked both the integrity to tell us honestly their purpose and not try and rip our church apart to build theirs. So that did not happen! Do not invite anyone who is looking to build their mailing list from your people!
  • Respect your visiting ministers. I will do a whole blog post on this in the future, it’s so important. So many churches and ministries do not have a clue how to respect visiting ministers, and it is tragic. Invite them with honour, treat them with honour when they are with you and give them an honourarium that is full of honour!

Hope this helps you all!

Pastors Behaving Badly 02: Behaving in the Service

Why Your Church Service Is Awesome –

Sometimes pastors have to go to church when you are not preaching or leading. If you are a travelling minister you have to go to church when you are not travelling, or you are setting a terrible example to people. In these situations I have seen some terrible behaviour from people, who are just terrible guests! In a conference, you should be in the sessions you are not speaking in if you can, and you should be behaving during that time.

So, here are some guidelines for leaders going to services they are maybe not leading, so we can help build the church and behave in the house of God.

  • Turn up on time. That is basic respect, you are showing that you regard the other minister and the other service as important. It amazes me that as soon as someone gets a little experience in ministry, they suddenly disrespect other ministers, rocking up half-way through the worship, making a scene when they come in, even talking during the sermon. That’s not behaving well. And people notice and people talk!
  • Dress appropriately for where you are going. Different churches have different dress codes. They are really formal but if you do not follow them you stand out. I am a jeans and shirt kind of person, but if I go to a jacket and tie kind of church, I will dust off the jacket and put it on. I don’t want to stand out in the church, I don’t want to call attention to myself, I want to enjoy the worship, the Word and the ministration.
  • Take part in the service. I mean you get involved in the worship, you lift your hands and you clap and you join in. When the preacher is preaching, get your amen in, receive the Word with eagerness.
  • Bring your Bible and notebook. Take notes even if you know the subject. Encourage the preacher. Do not go to sleep during the service!
  • Don’t get up and walk out during the service.
  • Do not be aloof, be part of what is going on.
  • The Bible tells preachers not to be afraid of people’s faces (Jer. 1.8). Don’t give the preacher a face to be afraid of. Don’t sit there and give your north wind face to the preacher!
  • If you are asked to minister unexpectedly during a service you are attending:
    • Do not suddenly change the purpose and direction of the meeting.
    • Keep to the time limit you have been given rigidly without fail.
    • This is where arriving on time and being part of the service helps, because you then have a feel for the flow of the service. If you do not have a feel for the flow, you are not going to be able to flow with the service.

We had a guest speaker at one of our churches a number of years ago. They preached a good message and people were blessed. The next Sunday this same guest speaker was on social media with pictures of themselves walking on a beach. They posted some critical remarks about “stupid Christians” (their words) who feel they should be in church every week, when you can walk on a beach and meet God. Think about that – the same Christians who came to hear them preach first week were good and holy, but they come the second week when the guest speaker is not there, faithful, servant, loyal saints who set up the meeting, made teas and coffees, ushered, played in the band are now stupid. Why? Because the guest speaker clearly only valued their ministry rather than God’s kingdom. They were incapable of going to church, sitting down and learning something. That is someone who has not and will not be invited back!

I have had to take ministers out for lunch and say “do not do that in my church”, “don’t talk all the way through the sermon”, “don’t hand out your prayer letters to people leaving the church”, “don’t grab the mic and suddenly turn a teaching service into a healing meeting”, “don’t preach 1 hour when I asked you to speak 10 minutes”, “don’t attack my people from the pulpit”. Why? Because sadly not every minister knows how to behave in church. We can do better.

Pastors Behaving Badly 01: It’s Important Pastors Behave!

C S Lewis: when we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave ...

Having just finished the series on thriving in the battle, I was praying about what to say to all you wonderful leaders and pastors and I heard one word in my spirit very gently spoke: behave! We as leaders must behave! What chaos has happened in the world, how many people have given up on the Lord, how many churches have died prematurely, how many marriages have failed because pastors have not behaved? We who are in Christian leadership should behave like it is so.

Paul wrote a letter to the pastor of the thriving church in Ephesus and said “you must know how to behave yourself in the house of God” (1 Tim. 3.15). All pastors should know how to behave in the church! If you don’t know, no one will. Pastoring is hard work and there is a temptation to take short cuts – with money, with relationships, with information. There is pressure on pastors, but we can stand those pressures and behave. And as leaders we need to behave circumspectly, what for someone else is just a bit of foolishness, can lead to people failing to understand what we stand for. Little foxes can spoil the vines! (Song of Songs 2.15).

When Jesus called the apostles, His primary calling for them was not to raise the dead, plant a church and do great meetings. No – it was to be with Him (Mark 3.14). Why did they have to spend time with Him? A whole host of reasons – but one of them was to learn how to behave! We need to be with Jesus to learn how to behave like Jesus! Ministry is hard work and a lot of pressure, but we still have to behave.

And we must as ministers never stop learning, never stop growing, never stop developing our character! Learning does not stop when we get the job or graduate Bible College, we need to keep learning. One of the best ways to learn is to have Pauls in your life – ministers with proven track records of behaving. I have learned so much from men like Dave Duell, Greg Mohr, Robert Maasbach, and they have helped me learn how to behave in the house of the Lord.

How can we behave in the house of the Lord? There are definite Biblical principles we can follow to help us behave, there are also other principles which might not be straight out of the Bible but will help us stay safe and keep wise and keep our ministries pure and upright. I don’t have all the answers but I have some, and such as I have I will give to you.

  1. In any church, there can only be one head. So every time you plant a new church aim to quickly and clearly appoint a pastor and let everyone know who that pastor is. I have seen people try and run a church by committee and it is a dreadful thing. The head has the eyes – it has the vision, but it also feels the pain when any part of the body is in pain. The head of the church must be the head of the church and be confident that he or she is the head of the church.
  2. The head must raise up a team and train them. The more people in the team the more can be produced and the more fruitful the ministry can be. However, you must be careful to only appoint people who are credible, capable and compatible. Anyone who cannot receive your instructions should not be appointed a leader. Anyone who thinks they are indispensable should not be appointed a leader.
  3. Never be a weak leader, someone will come along and take advantage of you. This is true in any church in the world – if the pastor is not strong and leading clearly, someone else is. It’s that simple. You let people know that you are the head and you know it. You set the pace, and do not let anyone dominate you or take advantage of you hesitating and being cowardly.
  4. Let everyone in your team (I mean associate pastors, assistants, elders, deacons, ushers – everyone who serves is team) know what you expect from them. Never have a hidden agenda, pastor, let people know what you want and where you are going! Let them know what kind of church you intend to pastor.
  5. Praise in public, correct in private.
  6. Always take the blame, you are the leader. 100% of the blame. Somehow it is your fauilt and it is your job to put it right.
  7. Never ever complain about any of your team. Ever.
  8. Give your team opportunities. See yourself as the coach of a winning team and let others make the plays! Even the important things!
  9. When you are with your team, do not treat them as servants, but as friends. That’s how Jesus did it.
  10. Eat with your team every chance you get (see Matthew 26.26)

Thriving in the Battle 12: Sometimes the Best Fight is the One You Avoid

Why there's little hope of ending public disagreements over GMOs ...
What if there are more than two ways?

The truth is that although there are many times that war is essential to protect what we love and walk in victory, battles always have a cost. Jesus Himself said that before you go to war – before you engage in a battle, pick a fight, confront someone – there will always be a cost (Luke 14.31-32). Sometimes this is unavoidable, and many times the cost of battle will be less than the cost of ignoring a problem or a disloyal person or a satanic vulnerable. But there are other times when the best way to win is not to fight.

It is not a good idea to engage in a fight you cannot win. Sometimes people go into a church to try and change it from the bottom up – that is impossible, it is rebellion, it will rip a church apart, cause you to be mistrusted and kill your ministry. It is a lazy way to do ministry, and the cost of doing that will always be more than the reward.

There are times, and part of being a great leader, is being able to recognize these times – when the best thing to do is win without fighting. Too many people think a retreat or a surrender is always a sign of weakness, but sometimes it is a sign of wisdom, strength and remarkable character.

It take a lot of grace and humility to not fight – sometimes an enemy is too big or strong and it is best to step back. We need to be grown ups in the house – have you noticed that children love to get the toys out, but it takes a grown up to put them away? Anyone can start a fight, but it takes maturity and skill to avoid a fight. You have to pick your battles. If you pick your battles carefully you will win!

Here are some battles you can avoid:

  • Do not employ someone who is not suited for the job, that is going to lead to a war down the road that you cannot win.
  • Do not appoint someone as a leader who you do not trust or haven’t seen tested
  • Flee youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2.22). It is not a sign of strength to hang out with your girlfriend or boyfriend alone in your dorm room, alone in your car, and so on, and spend time doing things that are going to excite your body. It is not a sign of weakness to avoid that battle, it is a sign of wisdom and maturity. Lust is a strong and powerful enemy, and either staying apart or getting married is probably smarter than fighting lust everyday.
  • Don’t hang around people with death in their words then go and fight those words all night and all day. Stop listening to them!
  • Don’t cast your pearls before swine and then try and convince those pigs that those pearls are worth something. Pigs don’t think anything is worthwhile if they cannot stuff it in their faces.
  • Don’t try and change a stranger’s point of view. I get letters from TV viewers telling me to embrace their pet doctrines – I don’t know them, I don’t respect them, it’s a waste of pen and paper. If you have a great revelation, produce some fruit and get fruitful and learn how to grow in that and then you will have a place to share it.

Get good advice before you start a war! Listen to other people who have been in your situation, have a mentor, listen to CDs and DVDs, learn some history. The battle is not to the biggest but to the one who knows the most. David’s knowledge about covenant and the history of his nation meant Goliath’s size and experience were meaningless! What do you know about your covenant? About your history? These things matter! What do you think about you and your calling? What do you know about the Word of God? Why can a human beat a lion – because the battle goes to the people who know the most, not the biggest teeth.

I had a situation a few years ago where one of our pastors was going a different direction from the Tree of Life Family, I could have come in as the big boss and started a fight. I would have won the fight, I am in charge and so on, so I would have won, but it would have cost me a lot of credibility, it would have injured people in the church, it would have hurt people to watch that fight even. That would have been a fight I could not afford to get into. So, I could not do nothing, I could not start a fight, so I started to pray about a third option, a wise man’s option, a grown up option.

So I sat down with the pastor and offered him the church. The whole church, offered to pay the rent for six months, and support it financially while he was the pastor. Obviously, he couldn’t call it Tree of Life but he could keep pastoring and ministering and I wouldn’t be responsible for his words or actions. I made that offer, and the pastor decided he wanted to step back and we put another pastor in the church, and it is still growing and thriving. Sometimes we need to press pause and find a third option! Pray for wisdom for yourself!