Ministry Today magazine cover

When Your Church Members Want the Limelight





Honor and position
Do you know of anyone in your church that wants to serve but for the wrong reasons? (iStock photo)

Young pastors enter the ministry expecting the people of the Lord to be healthy, sane, balanced, spiritual, biblically informed and Holy Spirit-guided.

And then they run into reality. The image of "running into a buzz-saw" comes to mind.

Some of them do not survive the experience, bless their hearts. But we remind them—when we have the opportunity—that our Lord said those who are whole do not need a physician (Matthew 9:12).  If they were all healthy, sane, balanced, etc., they would not need a pastor.

You are there for those who are the unhealthy, unbalanced, spiritually immature and so forth. Sometimes, it's a leader in the church who blindsides you.

Here's my story (see my note at the end):

First, the background.  Soon after I came to that church, I set out to visit all the deacons. If I were going to be able to pastor this troubled congregation (they'd been through a terrible split 18 months before I came; half the members remained to deal with several million dollars of debt), I'd need their help.

One evening in the home of Tommy and Doris, he showed me his certificates and diplomas on the wall. This man was thoroughly trained in the Lord's work, if the framed papers were any indication. At one point he said, "But pastor, they won't let me serve in our church. I want so much to be used of the Lord. I have these skills and training and the call of God."

My eagerness to bless and help and affirm overrode my good sense at this point.

I said something like, "Well, we'll see about this. We can always use a good man with your skills and abilities. We will definitely put you to work."

The next morning, I related this to our assistant pastor, a godly friend who had served our church for many years.  He said, "Oh, pastor, I need to tell you about Tommy. He kills everything he touches."

At one point they put him over the church's bus ministry, and he killed it. They put him in charge of the senior adult ministry, but he began ordering people around like he was the CEO and ran them off. Finally, they realized the truth about Brother Tommy: He did not want to serve people; he wanted to lord it over them. He did not want to be a minister; he wanted to be "somebody" with an office and a title.

That's why they could no longer use him in any position in the church. Tommy had not told me that they had tried him in various ministries and that he had bombed out.

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