It isn’t in my everyday that something burns inside me in a way that feels like fire, but when it does, heart racing and all, I know it is for me to write and share.
On this subject, there are some things you should know first.
1) I am not one to dive into most political conversations, both in the secular and Christian world, which some may consider wimpy but I consider wise. I am not a blogger who hops on the backs of hot issues to get my 2-cents in about something I know nothing about just to boost blog traffic. I am a woman who loves the Church desperately, spends my life trying to get us to be better, yes even jerk pastors and their kids who have done nothing but be born into the family. I am a woman God has commissioned to write and speak up for Him, and so for that reason and only that reason, I will.
2) I am not talking about a specific pastor in the news because a) that gets the subject off of the point and onto someone specific and b) the truth is, though it’s this jerk pastor today it will be a new jerk pastor tomorrow. It is the world we live in, the Christian celebrity world we’ve bought into, the sin that is our human curse. But let me just say this: I don’t like jerks. Have stood up to them my whole life. I don’t like people who fake their art or steal people’s ideas, especially since I write my guts out and just pray for God to help me instead of buying myself onto some list. I don’t like name callers or people that diminish the worth of any group or person. I can’t stand bullies. So let’s go into this post knowing we agree on those things. Ever heard the phrase, “It’s not what you say but how you say it?” I can’t think of a better way to express my heart on what I, myself, am trying to convey with this post: approach.
3) Refer to the first sentence of my last statement. Rest assured, with God’s passion for sin to be exposed and holiness to be present, especially in our leaders, there will be other pastors that fall (and by the way, have been for a long time – this is nothing super new). So whether or not you can get past the sins of this one or that, the things I talk about here will apply for future, too. I’ve noticed that we, the Church, often love the right fighting part of things but not the responsible handling of truth and grace. It is for this reason I write this exhortation to us all.
4) This post is not just for the jerk pastor’s kids. It is for the Church, too. Because the amount of time some of us spend chasing down exposing jerk pastors is precious time we lose fighting for the real cause: people coming to know Christ. I get it: you feel your mission is to expose leaders who ultimately damage the Kingdom. Thank you for that. Now can we move on to influencing people without involving someone else’s story to do it? I’m not sure most of us respond as much like God as we think we do.
Now that you know where I stand, may I humbly offer all of us some things to remember when we take on scourging leaders publically?
1) This jerk pastor is not your jerk of a daddy, every bully who threw you into a locker at school, every high profile pastor you trusted and sent money to and he swindled it away, every church person who hurt you and now you won’t go back. We can’t project our damage and personal experience and feelings onto people we don’t even know (or even ones we do), just because they remind us of someone else. Just because there are some common threads and experiences that feel similar (including Christian celebrity and how we, consumers, elevate people then ask them not to be prideful) every sinful leader has to be taken on a case-by-case basis.
2) Everyone is smart, insightful and awesome when we sit in a chair, behind a computer screen and assess. We can call all the plays and they all work. We can throw out advice and what we would do and it’s always spot on. But when we have not personally lived something, it is not only foolish but dangerous to pretend we know its every nuance. Please hear me: this is not saying we cannot speak out on things we don’t personally know. We can and at times, we should. Calling people out about sin is a Godly practice, when done in the Spirit. But far too many of us speak first, without understanding or wisdom. When I visit a restaurant, I want my server to talk to me about dishes they have personally tried, not try to make up answers about dishes they haven’t. Let’s stop trying so hard to give conclusions about things in which we don’t truly know.
3) Most of the time, these leaders have families and kids. And those people, too, are the Church. So as members of the Body, we are called to love and care for them, too. (And yes, even that jerk pastor who may for a time need to feel the heat in isolation in order to get himself straight but should still be loved, in the process.) The future these pastor’s kids have with God, possibly already damaged by their father’s shortcomings and indiscretions, may well hinge on the response of God’s people to a moment someone they loved fell down and lots of people got hurt. Just something to keep in mind.
4) The world is watching. I know, we get tired of this phrase, as Jesus followers. But it’s true. And loud naysayer with big blog who is trying to show non-Christians that you are one of the cool ones who isn’t like those other terrible Christian celebrities (even though you, too, will take big stages and big paychecks for it), you are being watched by people who cannot help but think to themselves, “If I screw up, what will happen to me? Will those Christians, too, rake me over the coals?” And it solidifies their belief (and maybe rightfully so) that Christians are the most judgmental people in the world.
5) If we have not prayed about it more than we’ve opened our mouth about it, we are dead wrong. We are the Pharisee who proclaims spiritual things without heart depth. I dare say our response to everything in life would be different if we prayed more than we gave our opinion.
There’s more to say, but this for now is enough.
Friends, I love you. I love the Church. I love God the most.
And from my own heart of experience — from being the pastor’s daughter since birth who watched my very gifted orator father crash hard with eyes watching and other humans who sinned in ways that weren’t so public, ready to pounce, I say to all of us:
Let’s please be better. It’s not about whether or not we support the jerk pastor. It’s about truth, weighted by grace. It’s about fighting for God first, not for our right or opinion. It’s about the jerk pastor’s kids who are a part of our Body and the cause of Christ which so desperately needs its members to get over ourselves and be people who are just about God.
Father, help us all.