There are a lot of metals in the world, some of them are a very golden colour. In many parts of the world, the main way to test if a metal is real gold is to put it through a very hot fire. Fire will make all the other metals discoloured but it will make gold shine even brighter. It does not discolour in the heat.
You see without a test it is impossible to tell the fake from the real. And over time every Christian will go through tests that reveal whether their loyalty and faithfuless to God, to the Father, to the Son, to their church, to their discipleship, to their mentors and leaders, is true loyalty or fake loyalty.
When I entered the ministry, my loyalty has been tested over and over. There have been times where if I was not really born again, not really baptized in the Holy Spirit, not really walking in love, not really called by God, not really a man of faith, it would have been exposed in a huge way! My commitment to the local church has been tested. My commitment to my heavenly calling has been tested. My commitment to the men and women who have fathered and mentored me has been tested severely. So, I want to alert you as a leader and as a Christian – you will be tested. And there are three main tests that test your loyalty. Your elders will be tested on whether they are loyal to you. If you plant other churches and form a network of churches, your spiritual sons and daughters will be tested on whether they are loyal to you!
The Test of Remoteness
The first test is the test of remoteness. Because people are human and people are limited to one place at a time, a leader cannot be with everyone at once. If you, like me, are running several churches, you cannot be in all of them at all the time. Paul could not be in every church he planted at once. So, he wrote to the Galatian church and said this: Isn’t it better to seek excellence and integrity always, and not just only when I’m with you? (Gal. 4.18, TPT). Every business leader has to face this test of remoteness when he opens another branch or office. There are many people who do not work hard unless the manager is physically there. This is why many businesses cannot expand. Many pastors cannot plant a second church because the first church does not have the people who will maintain and be excellent when the pastor is away.
If you are working for someone else, I promise you that remoteness will test your loyalty one day. When the boss, the senior pastor, the manager, the dad, the leader, whatever is away at some point you will consider “out of sight, out of mind” – you will think, I can do it my way, I can slack off, I can ignore instructions because they are not here. It is so important for your life success to be disciplined and excellent and have integrity even when the leader is away. People who pass the remoteness test can go and plant churches and open offices in other nations! They will make sure the ministry still has the same flavour, the same attitudes, the same excellence and the same integrity. It’s not an easy test to pass, so you need to work out how you can obey Galatians 4.18.
I currently run six churches across the UK, I am planting another five. I cannot be present in all those places – but I have people who are loyal to me, whether I am nearby, or remote.
I have been to churches where the pastor is away for ten minutes, and someone is being sarcastic and patronizing to him. I have been in businesses where as soon as the boss is out the office productivity drops to nearly zero. You cannot be that person. You cannot just praise someone and follow them when they are not remote. You have to be loyal. If you are not loyal, you will never be promoted, you will never have your own ministry, your own business.
I judge people by what they do when I am not there! Read Gal. 4.18 in the Message: It is a good thing to be ardent in doing good, but not just when I am in your presence. Can’t you continue the same concern for both my person and my message when I am away from you that you had when I was with you? We need to embody this verse!
There was a man in my life who when he was around me was loyal to the point of flattery – he would always praise me. “Ben, I am absolutely committed to you”, “Ben, you are my spiritual father”, “Ben, you are so good to me, you are loyal to me, you honour me, you open doors for me”. But when I was not around, suddenly I would hear “did you hear what this person said about you”, “did you hear what they said, do not go back and help this person again”. People always tell me when people are disloyal, and they will always tell the people you are disloyal to! You will not get away with that kind of inconsistency to the Word of God and the principles of God’s Word for long! This person failed the remoteness test, and his ministry is not fruitful today. As soon as I confronted him on what he was saying behind my back, he disappeared and will not contact me today.
Loyality is not what you do when someone is around. Loyalty is you being ardent in doing good, even when someone is remote. Without that sort of loyalty, denominations cannot grow, missionaries cannot go overseas, ministries cannot open new offices. Learn to develop a life that embodies Gal. 4.18. Here is that verse again, from the NKJV: But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you.
Next time, we will look at the second test. The test of continuation.