A shepherd came to me and lamented that someone he had been trying to witness to refused his invitation to come to house church meetings. He said that the person jeered and said, “You brag about your church but I saw a shepherd from your church at a bar.” Alarmed, I asked Brother Kwon to investigate. He found that it was not a current shepherd but one who had resigned from his position. The person also promised to not visit bars in the future.
Drinking beer or wine is not a sin. But I believe that our members are mature enough to understand that whether or not something is a sin is not the main criteria in determining proper behavior. The primary motivation is our mission. We should choose our actions based on whether it would help or impede us in accomplishing our mission.
A conversation I had with a shepherd deeply moved me. He used to play pool but had stopped playing. He mentioned that it was hard for him to suppress the urge to play pool. I innocently asked, “Playing pool is not a sin. Some consider it a sport. So why don’t you play?” He replied, “The commercial game rooms in Houston all have bars. In fact, selling liquor is their main business. If someone saw me leaving a pool hall they would automatically assume that I, a shepherd at Seoul Baptist Church, had been drinking.”
One advantage of serving as a shepherd is that one is forced to live with more self-discipline. At a pastors’ conference I attended, a well-known speaker said, “If I were not a pastor, I would be skipping church on Sundays and would not pray or tithe.” I am fairly certain he was exaggerating, but there is truth to what he said. I myself sometimes feel that I would be a two-faced Christian if I had not become a pastor.
It is hard to live a disciplined life when you don’t have any ministerial responsibilities. This is why some shepherd go back to their former worldly lives after they quit serving as shepherds. They become liabilities for our church because non-believers see their behavior and think that they are still shepherds and thus hold a low opinion of our church. If they love our church, former shepherds who live like this should straighten out their lives or join another church. Of course, the best solution is for them to repent and start serving as shepherds again.
God gave us a special mission: to lead people in Houston to Christ and spread house churches all over the world. As participants of such a great mission, our behavior must be different from ordinary people. We must refrain from drinking, not sell defective merchandise, pay back loans without fail, and always keep our word.
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