Several weeks ago I posted an article by Bill Lewis – an apostle in the United States that I have begun to relate to. There was one phrase that really struck me and stuck with me and it was this… “Pastors today are left with an impossible task of leading those that don’t want to follow. To follow those that don’t know where they are going and to make sure everyone is happy about the whole thing.”
I totally agree with what Bill is saying. It is as if we are living in a season very simlar to that which existed in the time of the Judges of Israel (see the Bible book called Judges). During that season in the life of Israel “every man did what was right in his own eyes.” Today, it seems many are doing the same.
But, they are also believing what they what to believe and whatever seems good to them (translated: allows them to live the way they want to). Church and what God might want or demand of His followers is simply an “add on” and not really central to anything. God and His standards for His followers are optional – no longer are they the Ten Commandments, but rather the Ten Suggestions.
So, people don’t want to follow – sheep apparently no longer need a shepherd … an earthly one or the Great Shepherd. They are following a god of their own making. So, it is almost impossible to lead them because they really don’t want to follow (and, in fact, often simply refuse to follow).
Of course, why should they follow someone if they don’t know where they are going? And why is it that shepherds (pastors and leaders) don’t know where they are going? Well, because some of them are, as in the days of Ezekiel, self-appointed pastors and should not be leading. Others, because they have never taken the time to invest in an education and are thus very poor leaders and teachers. Still others because they did invest in an education – the wrong type that knocked all semblance of faith out of them. Almost all have not continued to read and study and stay in touch with the culture they are serving and trying to lead to Jesus and current trends effecting the followers and might-be followers. In other words they are not speaking or leading in a relevant way even though their message is more than relevant – it is absolutely essential.
I also believe that they don’t know where they are going because there are so few true apostles and prophets helping them to know the times and the seasons. Apostles are the Master Builders and thus can read the blueprint of what the Church is to be and become and how to build it the way Jesus wants it built. Prophets are there to help us to know what people are to be doing and their place in the building process. Without them – pastors, evangelists, and teachers (five-fold or not) – will not know where their work is leading or what they are building.
Oh, there are many who call themselves apostles and prophets and have even tacked the word onto their name – “Apostle Richard and Prophet Harry”. They are dynamic speakers, have a great stage presence and can draw a crowd. But there are few true apostles and prophets who are quietly doing the work of the ministry and leading God’s leaders (who then lead God’s people) into the fullness of the plans and purpose of God for today’s Church. Of course, even the true apostles and prophets will have trouble making any lasting impact or change if the leaders are also, like their followers, unwilling to follow and are simply doing their own thing and “what appears right in their own eyes” as well.
And, in the process, everyone seems to think they have the right to be happy. Where in Scripture does it say we have any rights? We are “dead in Christ” and dead people don’t have rights. We are here to serve our Lord and Savior and do whatever it is He is asking us. His agenda, not ours; His will, not our. And where does it say in the Bible that we are to be happy? That is a man-made myth that happiness is a “right” and especially the right of a believer. Contentment – yes! Peace – yes! Challenged – yes! Busy – yes! Fulfilled – Yes! Happy – no!! Just faithful.
But God is up to something – the times, they are a-changing! It is His Church and He will have His way regardless.