Recently on a trip here in Western Canada I had the honour of joining a group of pastors and ministry leaders for a meal and some fellowship. It was a good night and one that hopefully encouraged those who took the time to attend and participate. The local church and leaders who hosted the event were amazingly welcoming. The food was excellent. The setting was indoors due to the weather and the numbers attending.
As we arrived there was coffee and an opportunity to get to know the others as they were arriving. I did notice that most of the pastors did not arrive on time. Arriving late can be a subtle indication that they think they are so important that people will wait for them. It is a lack of respect for other people’s time. One couple arrived an hour and a half late. Good that we did not wait for them. Some who said they were attending were ‘no shows’ and did not let the host know plans had changed. Totally inconsiderate. But I digress and have entered the arena of my pet peeves.
As we finished the meal we were asked to share who we were and what we believed God was doing in His Kingdom and the Church currently. We are talking pastors here. The host did not give us a time limit and so there is an open door here to preach a little. The sharing was good. Several took the opportunity to push an event that they were planning or hosting. I guess every good event needs room for advertising. Some actually did introduce themselves and shared briefly what they believed the Spirit was doing. One man made a tremendous point about how we do things that create camps – a ‘we’ and ‘they’. So, in general, it was okay. And, yes, there was some preaching.
But, and there is almost always a ‘but’ in these things. I did notice that almost everyone who shared talked more about what they were doing and how their ministry was doing instead of what God was doing. It was seriously evident in the sharing. And, it is very common when leaders and pastors get together. It seems that we are out to impress each other regarding what we are doing for God – not what God is doing through us. And, how active and alive our church or ministry really is. I think we are trying to impress each other. I believe it is because most leaders are insecure and so need to “huff and puff” and work to impress people.
There is this thing that happens when leaders get together. We judge the success of the ministry – and thus the minister – by how many people they have in their church and by how busy they are. So, you will hear leaders talking about their programming, their current special event, and the guest speaker that is coming. If the numbers attending is growing they will certainly mention this. You will hear them tell you how busy they are in ministry and how tired they are at times. Again, as if this is a badge of honour. You seldom or never hear them mention issues they are having in ministry or anything personal regarding how they are doing spiritually in their walk with Jesus.
In general, my observation is that leaders are very insecure. They don’t trust others – especially other leaders. They also find their self-worth in the ministry and not in their relationship with the Lord who called them into the ministry. So, if the church or ministry is growing or doing well they feel good about themselves and have a sense of worth or value. If the ministry is taking a downturn then their sense of worth or value takes a hit. This is so sad. Our sense of worth or personal value should always come out of our relationship with the Lord and not from what we are doing or not doing for Him or with Him.
I believe it is time for leaders in the Christian Church to renounce this “performance religion” and to build a dynamic and personal relationship with the Lord. It is from this personal relationship – not a ministry relationship – that pastors can become secure in who they are and no longer identify with what they do as the basis for their self-image and self-worth.
As we shared around the table one leader mentioned that he believed that the Holy Spirit was calling us back to an intimate walk with the Lord. I could not agree more. He was definitely in touch with what God is doing in His Kingdom the His Church today.