When I was in seminary I used to take the opportunities I had to interview with ministers in charge of placement within my denomination, even in my first year in school. I thought that it was a good oppotunity to build relationships and develop my networking skills. I interviewes with several people. I only remember two people I took the time to talk to though.
One was the woman who facilitated my placement to my first church out of seminary. She was thoughtful, compassionate, and intelligent, and I sniffling and coughing like crazy and had such a headache I don't remember a thing I said. I just remember that Patti was the only denominational executive that grabbed my cold-infested hand to pray with me at the end of any interview of that type, and I thought "That is a woman who knows Jesus!"
The other interview that I remember was with a man who listened to all of my idealistic blather about how I wanted to be a change agent instead of a maintenence worker in a church, and then responded, "For every change you ask a church to make, you need to be willing to make a change in yourself." He later told me what he meant was that real, authentic change is as difficult for pastors as it is for churches, and that I need to be prepared for this difficulty if that was the direction for my life. What I heard at the time was more pointed and challenging to me. I heard, "If you are going to ask people to grow and change, you need to be humble and vulnerable enough to grow and to change as well." And, being in my first year in my first church, it really challenged me to look at who I was called by God to be a lot differently. I realized that if I was asking people and churches to grow and transform, I better be willing to be challenged, humbled, and transformed as well.
The truth is that the book is very honest about how their church leaders needed to grow and change in ministry. Paul needed to learn to be a little more diplomatic, and had problems working and playing well with others at times. Peter had to have got intervene supernaturally before he would get over his prejudices, and then he still had problems. John Mark had to learn to face his fears and insecurities as a leader. Even Jesus needed to "grow in wisdom", and he was PERFECT!!!!
Yet the temptation of Christian leaders today is to act and think like they have all of the answers all of the time. And people in churches tend to desire this characteristic in their leaders.
This is dangerous. It is dangerous for churches and people in churches because they feel like spirituality is at best like therapy and as worse like some spiritual Amway plan. It is a scary, sad place for pastors to be as well.
Why is it that dangerous for us as Christian leaders to think that we have all the answers? First of all, because it isolates us. When we think that churches or even other Christian leaders need to change more than we do we set ourselves on a pedestal. There is only room for one on a pedastal. And when we are isolated from in some sense being peers with some in the congregation or other pastors, then we can lack the accountability we need. And we have seen over and over again on the news and in our own churches what possibilities for destruction that a perfect storm of isolation, arrogance, and a lack of accountability can bring.
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