Every Wednesday evening shepherds come together to share, encourage, learn and pray for one another. During this time, shepherds take turns to pray publicly and share a testimonial message. Through this they are getting trained to pray publicly and to share God’s word using their own personal life stories. And I always get tremendously blessed by hearing their prayers and messages.
A few weeks ago, a shepherd shared his testimonial message titled, “Why I like New Life.” He started out his message by sharing with us a recent conversation he had with his daughter, who is about five or six years old, on their way to San Antonio for a family vacation.
Daughter: “Daddy, why are we going to San Antonio?”
Father: “So we can take a family vacation and I can spend time with you.”
Daughter: “Did Pastor Eric let you take a vacation?”
Every shepherd erupted in laughter. I did too but it quickly made me think about my leadership style. I wondered, “Am I too dictatorial and authoritative to a point where this little girl somehow thinks that her daddy can’t take a vacation unless I give him the permission to do so?”
While this kind of thought was going through my mind, the shepherd said his daughter thinks that he works at the church because he spends much time at the church. He also shared with us that he was actually very glad to hear his daughter asking that question because one of the things that he is trying to teach and instill in his children is the importance of hierarchy and submission to the authority figures that God has placed over our lives. This is what has been modeled for him by his father who has always submitted to the pastoral leadership of the church and has never changed his church in the same town. And this is what this shepherd has been trying to practice in his life ever since he came to New Life: trusting the pastor and following his leadership. As a result, he has experienced so much spiritual growth and joy in his life. He then went on to share about why he likes New Life. When I heard all this from the shepherd I was able to laugh and relax not being overly concerned about my leadership style.
When we read the Bible, not just the Prophets in the Old Testament but the Gospels and the Letters in the New Testament, we find many straightforward, in-your-face type of directives that make us very uncomfortable.
“Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'” (Mark 10: 21)
“He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.'” (John 4: 16)
“Jesus said, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.'” (Mark 8: 34-35)
“Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6: 9-10)
Jesus and His apostles in the Bible were very authoritative and they often called out people because they cared for and loved them. This is what love does. Love gets involved in people’s lives and calls them out when they hurt themselves by sinning or doing wrong because love always protects. Unfortunately, we don’t see too many churches or pastors calling people out because they love and care. They are trying just to be nice to people who are dying from self-centeredness.
I have called out many of you at many different occasions both in public and private by asking questions like these:
“Why are you dating him/her?”
“Why are you trying to buy that diamond ring/car/house when you are struggling financially and can’t afford to have that?”
“Where were you on Sunday?”
“How come you didn’t go to your house church on Friday?”
“Why don’t you take a Bible study this semester?”
“It’s about time that you go on a mission trip with your family!”
“Don’t be late to worship service on Sunday!”
The list goes on as you are well aware.
So, can you take a vacation? Of course, but only after you faithfully live by Matthew 6:33!
I love you all! ☺
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