Summary: Straight talk from a pastor to congregation
Prayers of an Honest Pastor
I love teaching the Bible. It’s what I feel called to and it’s probably the most rewarding thing I do. I hope and pray that I’m allowed to do it until I’m really old and just drop dead doing it one day. I love teaching the Bible.
But there are times that I look out and think, instead of teaching something that week, I think about just telling you how I’m praying for you.
It may be a timely thing in my heart, because yesterday, my only son, Dane, turned 21. When Bonnie and I were 13 and Dane was born...
Anyway…he’s passed some significant mile markers: 15 and working, 16 and driving, 18 and being a legal adult; voting, and now 21. A full fledged adult now by anyone’s standards..., except for Avis Rent a Car. And I have to say I don’t blame them for not renting him a car, but that’s another sermon altogether.
Now it’s different than when he was 3, different than when he was 12. Different even than it was 2 days ago.
My responsibility in his life is influence and leadership, not Law. When he was 3, I said, “Do this.” When he was 12, it might have been, “Do this – here’s why.’- to sort of help him understand why I required something of him.
But now, it’s his choice to submit himself to my leadership and influence. He could walk away and never listen to a word I say for the rest of his life if he wants. It’s up to him.
That probably won’t happen, because of the relationship that’s been established over 21 years. He knows that I’m not in it for what I can get out of it. It’s a relationship of voluntary love that I willingly and gladly give, even at a cost to me. If I have the wherewithal to help, guide, encourage, correct, or teach, I will, without question, and without hesitation. But it’s up to him to position himself for that influence when he has a choice in the matter.
To a certain degree, my relationship with Dane now, is not unlike my relationship with 360 Church. These days in the church are not the same as they were 1300 years ago, 300 years ago, or even 30 years ago. And it’s mostly a good thing. It used to be, the leader in a spiritual community told people what to believe, how to live, and what to do. That’s unhealthy and it was culturally driven at best, and power or demonically driven at worst. Spiritual authority is good; but if it’s exploited, it’s wicked to the core.
Our culture has moved away from that sort of top-heavy domineering leadership, and that’s very good. Now, clear thinking adults align themselves with a spiritual community like 360, for several reasons that many of us are familiar with. Here are just a few of them:
• The Bible commands it Literally, there are dozens of Biblical commands that you cannot obey without being a committed member of a community of believers. It’s disobedient not to connect and commit.
• Corporate worship God receives your private worship and I believe enjoys it as much as what we do together; but our souls cry out for a part in something that is “bigger than me”.
• Meaningful community Doing life together is better than doing it in isolation. Period.
• SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE AND LEADERSHIP Although it may not be on the front of our minds, this is a big one. When God calls us to a church, part of what that church brings is a significant measure of influence into our lives. We submit ourselves to teaching, guidance, leadership, and ultimately allowing its influence, trusting that God is working through it.
On flip side of that, I bear the weight of responsibility before God, on how I use that influence. And I’ll answer for it, both here before men, and one day before God. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about that sobering reality.
With this in mind, I do look out from time to time want to just talk to you about your lives, seeing the amazing potential. I think about what could be, what should be, if only we’d get this or that.
So I’m going to ignore what I tell others, when I’m helping them learn to teach. And I’m going to talk to you about 5 completely disconnected and random things. I must say that I was inspired to do this by Andy Stanley, a pastor and author from Atlanta. He’s written some incredibly helpful books for Christians, leaders, and also books that help not-yet-believers come closer to Christ.
3 prayers I pray for you
If this were my last Sunday – for whatever reason, this is what I pray for your life as your pastor. And if this were your last time here, this is what I’d want you to remember. Because this supersedes our church, this is what I want for your life no matter where you are.