Posted tagged ‘shepherd’

A Two Year Old’s Stairs Shepherd

April 9, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        April 9, 2017

                               

On Friday I had the opportunity to spend the day with my just-turned two year old granddaughter, Corin (Rennie). Her regular child care provider was battling a sickness so “Granddad” got called up from the Reserves to Active Duty.

About an hour into our time together I thought that I caught a whiff of something…potent! Time to change the diaper, so I said, “Rennie, let’s go change your diaper, okay?”

“Okay!” she replied, a sure sign of the fact that she had made a direct diaper deposit. She headed for the stairway leading to the upstairs, and proceeded up the steps…one step at a time like her brother on the playground monkey bars. I followed along behind ready to stop a tumble. My focus, although she didn’t know it, was on her.

A few minutes later, now wearing a dry diaper and the clothes for the day, she began going back down the steps…one step at a time. She would sit on a step and slowly slide her feet off of the step below it while also sliding her butt off the step she was sitting on.
I went before her! I positioned myself below her, but facing her, and made sure she safely came down the stairs one step at a time.

I’m speaking at church this morning about Psalm 23, the Lord is my shepherd! It tells us about the protection of God and the care of God. He is a Shepherd that goes before us, but also follows along behind us. In essence, he is always there for us.

Rennie is only slightly aware that her granddad is looking out for her, being in the place and position I need to be in order to make sure she is okay. I’m like the shepherd of the stairs for her!

My guess, however, is that she is more aware of my protection on the steps than I am of my Shepherd’s presence of protection! Today, at least, I’m going to seek to have a heightened awareness of what my Lord is doing, where my Shepherd is leading, and how my God is following!

Adult Bullies In Pastor Bodies

February 21, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           February 21, 2014

 

Earlier this week I wrote a blog about “Adult Bullies in Churches”. It got more views, clicks, hits, or whatever you want to call it then any other blog post I’ve had except one. One of the comments about it was from someone who wondered about pastors and churches that are bullies. I promised that I would pursue the suggestion. Since I’ve been a pastor for just shy of thirty-five years it is right in my backyard. I’ll try not to be threatened by it, but also offer a balanced view of the situation.

Quite honestly, I think there have been, and are, pastors that bully. Most of the time the bullying is veiled behind an appearance of spirituality. The pastor conveys the idea that he/she is closer to God because he/she is more into the Word of God, and spends more time meditating about the ways of the Lord. People who question the pastor’s leadings and motives are often subjected to scorn and ridicule “in the name of Jesus.” 

When a pastor communicates by words and actions that he is closer to the Lord than anyone else a power play in is the works. When a pastor keeps promoting his vision that the Lord has given him…that, ironically, needs to be funded by the congregation, beware of the pleas that question how committed the people of the Body are.

I remember the words of an American Baptist pastor from Michigan, Jack Harris, spoken many years ago. Jack who served churches for a span of time just shy of Methuselah, said that the pastor was the sheep dog. Jesus was the shepherd. The pastor is entrusted with the responsibility of keeping the congregation headed in the direction of the Good Shepherd, not trying to be the Good Shepherd.

Some are uncomfortable with such a picture. They think a sheep dog has a little bullying in his actions, but the sheep dog is always about keeping the herd safe and headed in the direction they should be headed. Sometimes that requires a little more barking, but it is never to make the barker look more important than anyone else.

There are also pastors who firmly believe that they have been empowered with the authority to do anything. They view themselves as being like Moses, who was up on the mountain with the Lord receiving some divine words, and then had to return to the chaos of people dancing around a golden calf. I think it is easy for pastors to take on the “Moses Mentality” that the people they lead are prone to screwing up their lives. Thus, they need a strong voice that doesn’t put up with any nonsense and indicates it is either the pastor’s way or the highway. If such an ultimatum doesn’t work the pastor will sometimes even bring Satan into the equation. In other words, it is either his way or he’s going to hand them over to the Dark Side.

Accusing people of being of the world is a favorite bullying tactic. Sometimes I get discouraged by those who choose to follow other pursuits and interests instead of being at church on a consistent basis on Sunday morning. The temptation to focus on the lack of commitment gets especially strong around June and July.

A last thought! A pastor has been called to lead, but the leading must mirror the Philippians 2 passage about Jesus, who “being in very nature God (Not us! Don’t think that I’m saying we’re God, or God-like, but rather with a leaning sometimes towards being “Godly!”), did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” (Philippians 2:6-7) Being a pastor is more about serving than it is about getting one’s way. A pastor gets the privilege of administering the communion elements, baptizing a new believer, talking to someone about a major life decision, conducting the union of two people coming together in the covenant relationship of marriage, saying the final words as a follower of Jesus is lowered into the ground, sitting with a heart-broken family who has lost a special person. If a pastor’s base grows out of bullying and intimidation it leads to a fracturing of everything else, including the devastating fracturing of people’s lives.

Being like Jesus will always be more about a basin of water and a towel than a charge up a hill.

 

To The Newly Ordained

August 19, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         August 19, 2013

     My son! I hope you don’t mind that I call you that, even though we aren’t blood relatives. But I feel, in many ways, you are my son. Lord knows I’m old enough to be your dad!

I thank God for your obedience to the call. It hasn’t been smooth sailing for you. I can remember there were a number of times in the past three years where you were discouraged, tired, ready to lay things aside for a while. Going to seminary full-time, being a father and a husband, being involved in various ministry initiatives at church…your plate runneth over!

And now your name is preceded with the title “Reverend.”

I know it doesn’t change who you are. Humbleness is a part of your DNA. If someone refers to you as “Reverend” you will probably look behind you to see who they are talking to. The titled doesn’t change you. You are who God has transformed you into. That happened a long time before you got an official title.

See the title as simply a confirmation of those who have journeyed alongside you these past years that you are called…you have a special calling that has been placed upon your life.

Sometimes the calling will weigh heavily upon you. As you stand at a pulpit you will see the faces of people who need a word of hope for their lives, a word of encouragement. And yet, there will be other times when you stand at a pulpit there needs to be a “hard word” said. You must always seek to led by the Spirit of God. the temptation to throttle a congregation will be strong some weeks, as well as the tempting to be soft. Seek to lead the people of God closer to a holy fellowship with God. Don’t get carried away by personal agenda and political referendums. Stay Word-focused!

My son, as you enter a hospital room, or meet with someone who is about to enter into surgery, or gather with a family of a deceased loved one, understand that you are a representative of Christ. In fact, you are more than that. To those who are grieving you are the presence of Jesus. Without making you think that you are a Savior, you are in those moments Jesus to them. They are looking to you for a “word from the Lord”, a prayer for healing, comfort in the most trying times.

I know in your eyes you are “small” (Your word!), but to the family of a person who is about to have open-heart surgery you are a rock. Rocks are seen as being planted, strong…something that can have tough things, like the hard questions of life, brought to and there on’t be a shying away.

Be steady! People are sometimes fickle. They get attracted to the latest and greatest, but when the road gets rough, when the weariness of life leaves them gasping,  they look for that pastor who is steady and a servant. Seek to move the people of God ahead. The faster you expect them to move the gentler you must be.

People will follow the leader, even with some grumbling, if they are sure that the leader loves them and desires the best for them.

My son, always be teachable, no matter your age! Seek wise mentors who are not only close at hand, but also far away. And, hear this…seek mentors who are teachable. If you accept the guidance from someone who no longer seeks the wisdom of others, two people are about to take a plunge.

Finally, your family comes before the people of God. There have been many great pastors who have lost their families. That, my friend, is not God’s design for this whole calling of being a pastor. You must be wise in your spirit. Sometimes the people of God can overwhelm you with demands and responsibilities at the expense of your role as a father and spouse. Keep a balance. Discern what is really crucial and what can wait. Your daughter’s school production is more important than a meeting of the Finance Committee. Protect your family time while letting the people of God know you care.

There are so many other things I could write to you, but some of them are best learned on your own. Always know that I’m praying for you, and will be there for you no matter if you’re on a peak or trudging through a valley.

You are called! Fight the good fight!