Summary: Upon hearing H.B London speak at a leadership congference, and haveing read the book "The Speherd’s Covenant for Pastors," I utilized the principles in the covenant to share my heart with the church. You can go to http://www.parsonage.org/shepherds/index
Text: Pro 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
I have had the privilege of attending some great conferences since I have been in ministry. But of all those I have attended, one that places among the most beneficial to my personal spiritual life was the Leadership Conference that I attended in December.
The conference was attended primarily by state and national leaders within our denomination. The speaker was Dr. H.B. London, from Focus on the Family, and the Lord used him in a mighty way to speak to my heart.
He spoke to leaders, and more specifically pastors. He addressed the real problems that no one wants to discuss in ministry. Ministry ethics, fidelity in marriage, pornography, integrity. These are all real problems in ministry. It seems, to me at least, that as soon as one ministry scandal has faded from view, another emerges.
Along with two other pastors, Dr. London serves on the team that is working with Ted Haggard in restoring his life. Haggard was in the news just a couple of months ago for sexual misconduct. As a pastor, and president of a national conservative group, his effectiveness in ministry is shot.
I have personally known pastors – men in whom I have placed a great deal of confidence – who have ruined their ministries and strained their marriages. And while it is possible for a spouse to forgive their mate for breaking the most sacred vow between a man and a woman, the healing is never complete.
I recall one particular instance when a pastor crossed the line that I was not only hurt and disappointed – I was mad. I wanted to go and confront him, and express my indignation. But then I realized, except by the grace of God, it could be me.
And while this may not seem to be a big deal to some, it should be to God’s children.
While at the conference, I purchased a book that was written, in part, by Dr. London, entitled The Shepherd’s Covenant for Pastors.
As I read it, the Lord continued to speak to my heart. And I want to share with you this evening part of what has been going on in my life, and ministry.
The Shepherd’s Covenant is a covenant that I have made, as your pastor, with God. With God as my helper, I have committed myself to living by this covenant.
Some of you have noticed and asked about the lapel pin that I have been wearing the past couple of weeks. It is a reminder of this covenant. It is a shepherd’s staff, resting on the word GRACE.
GRACE is an acronym that defines the covenant. And while this is to be applied to those in ministry (and I would include all serving in the ministries of the churh) , I believe that it is equally beneficial to any child of God.
G is for Genuine Accountability. As your pastor, I have enlisted two other men (in ministry), who will ask me the hard questions, and who allow me to do the same with them. Questions that pertain to ministry, ethics, and relationships.
SHARE SOME OF THE QUESTIONS
1 Samuel 18: 1 states that “Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.”
John Wesley asked these questions of the early believers in Methodism:
1. What know sins have you committed since our last meeting?
2. What temptations have you met with?
3. How were you delivered?
4. What have you thought, said, or done of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?
5. Have you nothing you desire to keep secret?
WOW! What would you do if I were to ask those prying questions each week?
Charles Swindoll has developed a more up-to-date list of questions for those in ministry:
1. Have you been anywhere with a woman this pasty week that might be seen as compromising?
2. Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?
3. Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?
4. Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?
5. Have you given priority time to your family?
6. Have you fulfilled the mandates of your calling?
7. Have you just lied to me?
As Christians, and especially in the lives of Christian men, we need more accountability.
The most swift and sure way to destroy our testimony, our homes, and our church is to break that sacred vow of marriage.
R is for Right Relationships. Our ministries (and our life effectiveness) can only be effective when our actions and reactions toward members in our families, our colleagues in ministry, and those within our church family are pure.
2 Corinthians 13:11 states, “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”