It's interesting when God starts speaking to me about a subject...I just can't get off of it. I've been meditating all week on the story that was brought to my mind about playing piano at Pampa's Spring Festival. (Click here to read.) I've just kept thinking about the church...WE, the Church.
Just like I was "covered" in my piano playing by those more experienced, why do we not cover those in the church who are less experienced? I guess I'm thinking mostly about young pastors and those young adults who rise up as leaders. Instead of encouraging them and covering them (especially their mistakes), we tend to shoot them down and discourage them--even to the point of getting rid of them.
How many young pastors or youth pastors and especially worship pastors (since this is still a huge battle in the church) get discouraged and leave the ministry? One survey I read said 80% of seminary students who enter the ministry will not be in the ministry within five years. WHAT??? (The rest of that survey is too disheartening to read, but read if you must!)
- We prayed for our pastors?
- We chose a young pastor we know to put on our daily prayer list?
- We encouraged those in the ministry?
- We covered them when they messed up?
- We loved them in spite of their failures?
- We chose not to assert "being right" on non-essential issues in our church?
- We spoke the truth in love on essential issues in our church?
- We came alongside our pastors and helped them...instead of sitting in the pew judging them?
- We got a whole new vision of the struggles and burdens they carried?
- We sent notes regularly to our pastors?
- We didn't gossip about our pastors?
- We didn't sow discord in our church?
- We stood up for our pastors?
- We taught others to cover our pastors with love?
- We became a Barnabas--a constant encourager?
I don't want you to think I'm just talking about pastors. I've seen many young adults step up to the plate to lead in the church and get shot down by other church members. They become easy targets as they step up to lead. Most get discouraged and quit. Many leave the church altogether. Ask yourself: Am I loving and encouraging our leaders? Or am I part of the problem? And: Do I need to ask forgiveness of anyone who's tried to lead?
Think about it. Do we really need to be "right" all the time? Are those issues more important than people's lives and their future in our churches? Have we become Pharisees, trying to be the plumb line and measuring everything that's done? In my experience, most church fights aren't over the truth of God's Word. They're over preferences, tradition--"the way we've always done things," or church operation. Which is worse? Our leaders' failures...or our pride?
God's called us to something higher...something better. And Jesus is our example. We're to love. We're to disciple. When Jesus' disciples messed up (think of Peter denying Him), did he wash his hands of them? Did he accuse them and toss them out? Did he fire them? No! He lovingly brought them back. He taught them truth. He loved them. He brought them along.
I'm becoming very passionate about this...and I think it's because I'm seeing so many bleeding wounded all around me.
"Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]."
I Peter 4:8