Last week we discussed loyalty and how to maintain loyalty in a church or organization. Today I want to continue that thought by discussing something called “fully persuaded”. I think most people have realized that to be a leader means to be accused. If you are in leadership, the only way to stop them talking about you is to quit leading – so get used to it. You have to be able to handle accusation.
If you are part of an organization you have to also be able to handle accusations made at your leaders. It is not without good reason that the Bible says not to entertain an accusation against an elder without two or three witnesses (1 Tim. 5.19). If there is just one lone voice against a leader, ignore it. It’s that simple.
Jesus was accused of misleading people, teaching sedition, preventing people from paying taxes, claiming to be the king, being in league with satan. I’m not sure many of us today would have become his follower in 1st century Israel. Paul was accused of being a pestilent fellow, a source of strife, a disturber of the peace, an antinomian, a cult leader and attempting to desecrate the temple.
If you were working with Paul you would have to be fully persuaded about his integrity and character. Otherwise those accusations would find a hook inside you and you would lose the benefits of Paul’s leadership. Of course this is why leaders are falsely accused – to diminish their influence, and to ensure you fail to benefit from their influence.
Can you imagine working with Paul and at the back of your mind is the idea that he is a cult leader, that you are in a cult, that he really wanted to desecrate the temple? It wouldn’t work. You need to be fully persuaded that Paul is an apostle of God and the messenger of grace.
People say there is no smoke without fire, forgetting that some people in any organizations (sadly, especially churches) can be human smoke machines, puffing out smoke by the gallon with no fire necessary at all. You need to be fully persuaded that you are in the right place with the right leadership!
So, let’s start by addressing leaders with some points, then we will address the led with some more points!
5 THINGS LEADERS CAN DO TO MAKE IT EASY FOR THEIR PEOPLE TO BE FULLY PERSUADED
- Be open about finances. You get a new car and someone asks “where did that come from?” Don’t reply “The Lord” – we all know that, but let people know where it came from. Let people see that you are not skimming from the offerings. Make sure that you are registered as a charity, and complete the appropriate paperwork to stay above board. You don’t need to reveal where every penny is spent, but people should be aware of the broad strokes. It makes it easier to persuade them and help them if you are accused.
- Be open about your vision. A pastor recently wanted to work with me on an evangelism project. I told him it wouldn’t work because we disagreed about too many core issues. He lied to me about what he believed about Jesus and about the gifts of the Spirit and salvation to try and get me to work for him. I listened to him preach and pointed out the dishonesty to him – what he preached was not what he told me he believed. Why lie? To get our church on board, to add some sort of weight to his campaign? I don’t know. But it is difficult to be persuaded to work with someone who is dishonest about their core values. Let the church know what you are all about and where you see the church going. Don’t tell someone “yes, we are going to have services like this” when you don’t want to. People will see right through it. Shout the vision, make it plain and let people decide if they are going to follow. Presenting different visions to different people to keep them around will always bring DI-VISION!
- Be open in crisis times. An elder in the church is being disruptive and rude – won’t teach what you ask, and starts insulting guest speakers and is insulting to other elders and their abilities. When you remove that person from leadership, ensure people know it was done and why it was done. Be open about the tough decisions you have to make, and be open as to why they are tough. I’m not talking about gossip, I’m not talking about running someone down and getting your side of the story out. I’m talking about being transparent about why you made certain choices. Let people know that you have their best interests at heart.
- Have greater leaders than you that you are open with and honest with. When people see that you are led too, that you are growing too, that you care about developing too, then they will trust you a lot more. People care a lot less about knowing everything and attacking everything if they know there is a place that your struggles and your concerns are being shared and that they are being shared with someone who is wise and mature.
- Be open about your mistakes. I’m not saying get in the pulpit and share every wrong selfish kill-em-all thought you ever had, I am saying that if you mess it up publically, apologize publically. If you get shirty one Sunday before church, let people know that you did and that you know you did and that you are sorry.
It is hard in this day and age to cultivate loyalty but these steps will make it easier for people to follow you.
5 THINGS THE LED CAN DO TO HELP STAY FULLY PERSUADED AND LOYAL
- If the questions are too many, get out. I am not saying here stay in a church when things are clearly dysfunctional. Don’t do that. If you cannot get answers or even feel that you will get them, then find somewhere else. Get a new job or new church or whatever.
- Remember to stay loyal to the highest authority. What does this mean – if your elder starts contradicting your pastor then go with the pastor and his call. He founded and built the church. If your branch manager is contradicting your regional manager, go with the regional manager. If your pastor is contradicting Christ, Christ is the highest authority. Stay with Him! Paul said follow me as I follow Christ – that’s good advice for any leader: when they are not following Christ don’t follow them! A good leader will say that as well.
- Do not withhold information from your leader. If there is corruption going on, let people know. If you knew sedition was going on and said nothing, you are disloyal. Paul told the Corinthians “it is reported that there is fornication among you” (1 Corinthians 5.1) – it wasn’t a word of knowledge or a vision. Someone told Paul the church was dysfunctional! A good structure reports on things! Good people let their leaders know what is going on.
- Base your loyalty on principles not emotions. Most people operate in the emotional realm most of the time, and don’t operate on the basis of principle. If you decide to be part of something you make that decision on information and principles and vision, not on the basis of emotion. I know people who followed a youth pastor who split a church and started a new church across the road. I asked why they would follow him when it was all clearly out of order. They said “we know he has done wrong, but we feel sorry for him”. I can’t think of a worse reason to be part of a church. Those who joined Absalom’s church all died. The angels who joined Lucifer Ministries International all became devils. Be careful where you go and who you are loyal to.
- Be prepared to pay “The Loyalty Cost”. Being loyal will cost you – friends, relationships, parties to go, and more. Everything has a price – your salvation had a price but you didn’t have to pay it. But every step you take in working out your great salvation will cost you. Of course the good news is that the reward is greater than the price. However, there is a cost to loyalty. To be loyal to one person means you cannot be loyal to everyone. To be loyal to one church means you cannot be loyal to every church. I have friends I just can’t spend time with any more. Why? Because I am loyal to Jesus. I am loyal to the Tree of Life Network. Every relationship you are in either adds to you or diminishes you, and you can only choose so many. When Moses decided to be loyal to God he lost access to the riches of Pharoah. There are people I have lost access to their riches because I have decided to do the right thing. Loyalty is expensive but it will always pay better than the cost.
Next week, we will look at the Analysis of Loyalty. I hope you enjoyed this blog. If you want to know more about Tree of Life Church, visit our website: www.treeoflifedagenham.com or follow us on Facebook.