You probably know by now that being a pastor doesn’t shield you from disappointments. Sorry for the buzzkill beginning, but that’s the truth. The offerings will sometimes be less than your church expenses. The sermon you planned to preach was a lot better than the one you actually preached. People will leave your congregation for the silliest of reasons. The list could go on and on, I promise.
But the good news is that God is working at all times on our behalf in the invisible realm—although that invisibility sometimes causes us distress. So we wrestle. We admit disappointment. We engage in earnest dialogue with our God. In the end, we come around to the same vow: “I trust you, Father. I really do. And while I don’t understand what You’re doing, I know You’re guiding me. You’re still God, and You are good.”
The nature of computer viruses, as I understand them, is that a kink is placed in the inner workings of these systems that infiltrates all aspects and makes it impossible for the computer to do the work for which it was intended.
They are called viruses for good reason. Plagues are the result of viruses being passed along from one person to another until millions are infected and a great many die. Quarantining the carriers has traditionally been the means of stopping the virus in its tracks.
In the kingdom of God—the church on earth, if you will—bad ideas and wrongheaded philosophies function in the same way as viruses. They infect a church, and as members and leaders interact with other churches, as people relocate and assume places in other congregations, the infection is spread.
The result is always deadly.
The spirit of cowardice lives and thrives in churches these days. It has a corner in the office of many a pastor and makes whimpering sounds familiar to many of us:
“You don’t want to do that. It might rock the boat.”
“Deacon Crenshaw will be upset if you preach that. I wouldn’t.”
“Back off on that vision God gave you. You’re going to lose some members if you push that.”
“Pastor, you must not oppose the power group in your church. They ran off the last three preachers.”
“The biggest giver in the church is threatening to withhold his tithes if you persist in letting those people come to our church.”
For some time now, the ministry of Heal Your Servant has been dedicated to helping ministers who are at any stage of a moral failure. Some have misappropriated funds. Others have made wrong decisions that have adversely affected their congregations, while the majority of the ministers we deal with are trapped in some sort of sexual indiscretion, whether it is pornography, adultery or a dual identity.
These types of transgressions have left a trail of hurt, pain and anger throughout the entire body of Christ. Many say, “Forgive, forgive,” while others declare, “Off with their heads.”
I’ve been in the business of buying and selling talent (a nice way of saying “actors”) for about 30 years now. When I came to Hollywood in 1984, I was blissfully ignorant of the structures of power and fear that are so often the foundations of the entertainment industry.
I was also blind to the fact that God loved me and had a plan for my life in Jesus Christ. All these things would be revealed in time. In short, God found me, claimed me, saved me—and then asked me to become a talent agent. Through the hard-knock years of this profession, I’ve learned some lessons that have played dual roles in my life as a Hollywood talent agent and an associate pastor.
Every ministry, every organization, has something that’s not working. Do you have the courage to deal with it? Ecclesiastes 3:6 says there is “a time to throw away.” You don’t hear that preached very much. Yet it’s true. You need to ask yourself, “What is not working?”
Often the problem with churches and religious institutions is that things are kept long past their time of usefulness. A friend told me a funny, but true, story shortly after I came to the General Council office. When he was a staff pastor in a church in West Texas, a new convert came to the senior pastor and said, “Pastor, those old flowers on the Communion table—they’re plastic, they’re old, and I love to put bouquets together. Would you let me make a fresh bouquet?”
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to lead a breakout session at Lifeway’s Kids Ministry Conference 2012 titled, The Non-Confrontationalist’s Guide to Confrontation. Last week, we posted here reason No. 1 you want to lean into conflict. You can catch up here.
Today, let’s address reason No. 2:
Conflict Hinders Collaboration
Don’t be deceived into believing that a small conflict has a small impact. A small conflict grows over time. It slowly erodes trust between team members. If not addressed, it becomes the purple elephant in the room that everyone knows is there but no one wants to talk about.