March 2016 Posts

My Challenge to Our Church Staff

One of the concerns I have as a pastor and leader is that conversations can very quickly move toward borderline inappropriate. One minute you’re talking and having fun, and the next thing you know, the conversation turns and it’s no longer edifying to the Lord. It starts as a little off-color joke here or a little off-color comment there, and it can go there very quickly, because if we’re not careful, there’s a tendency for things to move toward the ungodly.

You may assume that a church staff is godly just by way of definition, and that may be true sometimes, but that assumption may also be just that: an assumption. It may not be substantiated by how we live, because we’re only as godly as we are moving ourselves toward Him. Your individual time with the Lord needs to cultivate a heart that’s submitted to God, and that will ultimately be reflected in your professional life.

If you’re on staff at a church, the standard is high. This isn’t a normal job. Godliness has to be part of who you are. In the name of spiritual trust, we need to honor the Lord in what we do and in what we say in same-gender and mixed-gender conversations, in what we talk about behind closed doors and in how we interact behind someone’s back. We need to be mindful of our tongue and not allow ungodliness to come out of our mouths.

My challenge to our church staff is we need to be part of the solution of moving our people toward godliness. We need to be the ones setting the pace in the church, personally reflecting Him, squashing conversations if they’re going sideways and speaking the truth if something isn’t right. It can become too easy to just go about our days and not have those iron-sharpening-iron conversations, but we need to always be mindful of who and what we are reflecting. The time we spend with one another, the conversations in our meetings and all our interactions need to be godly. We need to be champions for holiness, for prayer, for personal devotion with the Lord, for listening to the Holy Spirit stirring in our lives, for living in obedience to His Word.

If there were rumors on the street about our team, I would love for them to be that we handle information well, we treat one another with respect, we have appropriate interactions with the opposite sex and we live in a way that honors Jesus. I would love the reputation of our staff to be that we’re godly.

High Places and Action Figures

Psalm 78 is a look back at Old Testament history. There’s so much in this chapter about clear obedience and clear disobedience. Yet through these verses you continue to see the presence of small compromises in the form of high places.

These high places are sneaky little things. They don’t seem like much at first, but they slowly grow to woo the hearts of the people away from undistracted devotion to the Lord. Though the people seem to serve the Lord with all of their hearts, they also offer sacrifices on these high places.

It has been said that big things are just the accumulation of the little things. In this case, that may be right. As these high places take root in the hearts of the community, the larger sins of idolatry soon follow. Not only do the people of God find themselves offering sacrifices on these high places, but now they take idolatry to the next level and begin to worship graven images and action figure gods.

Of course this brought about the judgment of God who, by His very nature, does not share His glory with anyone or anything. Their small compromises multiply into wholesale departure from the Lord. In return, the Lord was “filled with wrath and greatly abhorred”[1] them. That’s powerful!

So what are the high places in your life? The little things. The small compromises. What are the areas of your life that have subtly led you away from devotion to the Lord?

What about the large departures? Have you allowed anything in your life to become an ultimate thing? Have you bestowed ultimate value on anything, putting it above the Lord?

Big or small, repent and turn to Him for forgiveness. God is merciful and gracious but will not share His glory with anyone or anything. We must diligently fight to keep Him as ultimate in our lives. It doesn’t matter if it is a high place or a graven image; both bring dishonor to the Lord and should be repented of immediately. But if/when you turn to Him, you will find grace and mercy.

[1] See Psalm 78:58-59 (NASB)