One of the things that normally shocks a new pastor, generally after about 6-9 months of pastoring is that there are – thankfully rarely, but it definitely happens – people who come to church pretending to be something they are not. The word I use for these in my mind is ACTOR. Some people in churches are actors, with fake personalities – and these people will be the most likely to betray you. It can feel like you have a spy in the church, you find out they said X to you, but Y to someone else, and Z to someone else and you are stunned.
Even a pastor as awesome and pure and wonderful and inspiring as Jesus had a disciple called Judas. Judas was an actor, playing the role of a wonderful disciple of Jesus, but in reality He was a traitor, deceiver and murderer. David had Absalom, he was an actor, playing the role of a kind, gracious brother, but it was all an act to kill his brother! Joshua met a tribe of actors! They pretended to be far away from Israel, and acted like they had made a huge journey, but they actually lived in Canaan. I have met people who have come to one of our churches as actors pretending to be great Christians, but they are really trying to destroy our church culture and church life! If no one has come to do this to your church yet, either you have missed it, or your church has nothing worth stealing or killing!
Every leader will face the problem of actors. If you want to be a fruitful leader, get ready to once in a while see an Oscar-worthy performance from someone! I want to help all of you see through these actors as and when they turn up and want to treat your church or business as a stage. Now this follows on from what I was teaching on loyalty, because a lot of your betrayal in life as a leader comes from actors. You have to learn to keep a soft and true heart, but at the same time when people come wearing their sheep costume, act like they admire and love everything you say and do – you need to know these people are actors.
There are a number of signs that will help you realize when someone is acting – one of the main ones is when people talk very little when you are around, but talk a lot when you are not around. That is one of the big clues to me that I am dealing with someone who is pretending: when I find out more about their lives second-hand than first-hand, from people who do not realize that the people talking ABOUT me are not actually talking TO me. It does not always mean I am dealing with an actor, but it often does.
Samson lost his life because he relaxed in the presence of a woman who was acting. She was acting as a concerned woman, a friend of Samson, when all she wanted to do was steal from him. Actors can be the most dangerous people in your church and do great harm to you and your ministry. You must not relax in the presence of these people – you must rather obey the Word of God and prove all things and hold fast to the good!
In addition to people who are too quiet, be very careful of people who seem to have two different personalities. I have met people who are jovial and chatty around others, then when I am there, they are sad, quiet, melancholy. Perhaps their face to others is an act, to build a power-base. Also, when people are obsessed with the outside facade, obsessed with dress, and outward actions, and petty things that are external. That’s another sign of an actor. Actors use a lot of make-up and take a long time to dress. We had a lady come to our church and she was covered in make up and used to dress up as if she was at a wedding or some such event. I later found out some of the men in our church (some married) had lent her thousands of pounds, and she left our church still owing many of them. She pretended to be an innocent, vulnerable sister, but she was a predator, and stole money from people. And some unsuspecting men in the church fell for it! As leaders, we must not be that naive! I would guess 90% of her beauty was artificial. I’ve been to Hollywood, it is just a veneer! I’ve had to help husbands cope when they found out days into their wedding that their wife had false nails, false lashes, false teeth, even false breasts! Don’t fall for a veneer! Actors of both sexes will often have had a lot of partners becaue they act how the other person wants them to act.
In addition, actors are too nice. They are grinning all the time, they like every post you post on Facebook, they look like extras from Stepford Wives because it is not real, it is indeed an act. Their make-up is their smile. And along with that smile is a total lack of conviction. These people will never say something is good or evil – they will wait and see what others think, or they will just seethe in private and act like a nice person! I’ve been in situations where I have had to address something, and I know I am only saying what everyone else is thinking and needs to be said, but when the person is upset at what I said, the actors jump in and comfort them because I said to their face what the actor is saying behind their back!
Next week we can start talking about walking in love, because Romans tells us to love without acting! And when we get that right, we set a standard for everyone!