Many of us grew up with the chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
I used to believe the person that coined the phrase was an idiot.
Words can hurt—sometimes worse than broken bones.
But the longer I lead in ministry, the more I realize there is truth to this well-known phrase.
Anytime we exalt the men of God above the God of men, the church has been charmed. I thoroughly and wholeheartedly believe in honoring deserving men and women of God. This is right and well pleasing in the sight of the Lord. Paul instructs us in the Book of Romans to give honor where honor is due. Quite honestly, honor is a rare commodity in many Christian circles nowadays. We would do well if we practiced giving honor to those who merit it more. But trouble is on the horizon when we exalt our leaders as if they are Gods and give glory to them that is due the Lord. Men can and should be honored, but they must never be worshipped.
I spent three days recently at a cabin with five other pastors, holding what we call a roundtable.
I’m from California. We met in Illinois, where there was a blizzard one day and the temperature hit minus 7 degrees one night. I didn’t care. What we were doing was so important, we didn’t need to go outside. We do this every year. We plan to continue doing it until our last days of ministry.
Here’s why I’m involved in a roundtable:
1. These guys inspire me. They’re my friends, all are pastors, and seeing how they live out their commitment to God inspires me. There aren’t too many people who do what we do. One of the guys lost his wife and best friend to cancer in the same year. Another adopted and is raising four high-risk children. A third runs triathlons. All of them are devoted to their wives and to walking in close quarters with Christ. During dark seasons in my ministry, I think of them and it boosts my determination to keep going.
When I was learning to drive, I lived in the country. Roads were narrow, one lane in each direction.
One of the first things you learn when driving in tight quarters is to keep your eye on the right edge of the road. The problem is that you tend to steer where you are looking. If your eyes are on the headlights coming at you, chances are high that you will steer your car right into the oncoming traffic.
What does this have to do with church leadership? What your leadership team focuses on and where you spend your energy will impact your entire congregation.
I was out for a run for the first time in months. A “runner’s injury" to my right foot has been slow in healing. It was great to be off the exercise bike and back outside!
While I was out, another runner passed by me in the other direction and greeted me with a cheery “Hey, keep going!” and a big smile. It was a lifting moment and brought a smile to my face. The next runner passed by within inches of me. I offered a cheerful “Hey!” and he never looked up. The difference was staggering.
That moment was a fresh reminder of how much I appreciate people with a positive and cheerful spirit. They bring life! Others steal life. Both options can take place in a moment.
As a leader, have you ever stopped to think about what you believe about those that you lead?
What you believe about their intentions, their dreams, and their desires”
Deep down, what you believe about them influences how you approach them. It impacts how you lead them.
If you’re in a leadership role, it means God has positioned you to take part in the refining work He is doing in those you lead. That means He intends to use you to teach, to guide, to shepherd.
Sometimes that teaching or guidance is easy. It’s not difficult to address and is readily received by the recipient.