Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. - 1Peter 3: 18 (NLT)
Decisions decisions. Our lives are made up of decisions. Some are easy to make and some are very difficult. Some we make quickly and others we invite the counsel of many to try and hash out what is the best way to go. As a leader, decisions can be even harder because there are people who rely upon you for being able to make sound decisions. The consequences of poor decisions can be felt far and wide when we find ourselves in positions of leadership. The same is true when you are a leader of a church, if not more so. The decisions you make could directly affect the lives of the people who attend your church; the sheep God has entrusted to you. That is why the bar has been set so high for the qualifications a pastor should meet for the job:
Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap. - 1Timothy 3: 1-7 (NIV)
Unfortunately it seems we have dumbed down these qualifications in our modern churchianity. Pastor caught in affair? Stop throwing stones! Pastor uses $200,000 of tithe monies to personally profit over 1.5 million? Judge not lest ye be judged! Pastor lives in sprawling 6.5 million dollar mansion and owns three private planes? You can't know his heart! Sigh. Well at least there is the most important day in our religion we can rely upon for being a steadfast rock. We know that right around the corner is Resurrection Sunday. The day when our Lord and Savior conquered the grave! The day when that awesome question was asked - "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" Hallelujah! At least this can be a day when even the false teachers that litter the Christian landscape can agree on doctrine and maybe actually preach the same message. The only message that can truly save someone. The Gospel message. I honestly thought this...and then I came across this twitter exchange the other day:
Gary Lamb - " Ok pastors, tell me what teaching series you're doing for Easter. Need something to get the creative juices flowing. "
Gary Lamb - " @FakeChurchStaff - thx jackass "
This may just seem like a harmless, funny exchange until you realize that Gary Lamb is actually a real pastor asking advice from other pastors about what he should preach for Easter! How in the world can you call yourself a pastor and not know what to preach on the most important day in your faith? The day you know you will draw the most people who are lost. What is even more telling however is the clear implication that Pastor Lamb thinks the Gospel should not be the subject. His tweet was asking what "teaching series" others were planning on doing. Also, you have to love the clear admission that he does not plan on relying on the Holy Spirit for the direction or writing of his sermon because he needs to "get the creative juices flowing."
Some may think this is nitpicky but it is not. It is however the end result of dumbing down the pastoral requirements. Never mind that Pastor Lamb had to step down from his previous church because of an affair with his assistant. Never mind that while he was going through his divorce, less than one year after being removed, he started his next church. Never mind that his second church was in the same town as his former. Every time I think we might be making progress and there may be less wolves out there to expose, God shows me another Gary Lamb. Once again, for those who think this might be nitpicky, here is what God says:
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. - Galatians 6: 1 (NIV)