There’s a fungus among us.
It feels silly to write that opening line. Try saying it out loud to get the gist of how it sounds.
Are you done? Okay, now let me tell you just how silly we members of the Body of Christ can be.
Sometimes, we judge other Christians based on our perceived strengths or areas of giftedness.
I’ll try to explain by picking on pastors. Since I am one, I know how we think.
Come along with me to the make-believe town of Anyville and meet three pastors.
Pastor Joe at First Church of Anyville is a gifted vocalist as well as being the youngest lead pastor in town. He’s such a blessing!
Pastor Jose leads the largest church in Anyville. Pastor Jose is a gifted bilingual communicator. His sermons from Word POWER Church are replayed on the internet all across the country. Two-minute video clips and sound bytes of his prolific wisdom inundate social media. His voice inflections and body language are imitated by younger ministers all over.
In a less than stellar moment around the lunch table with staff, Pastor Jose says this. “I like Pastor Joe and the folks over at Anyville Church. I just wish Joe would stop all that noisy singing and focus on preaching the Word! If he’d just get focused, he could become a gifted communicator. After all, there’s a reason why some of his folks are visiting our services.”
Now meet the oldest minister in town. Pastor Lou is founder of the Temple of Prayer, located in central Anyville. Pastor Lou and his ministry are respected because of their Friday night prayer meetings. They draw in people from all over the county. These prayer meetings have strengthened the region. Some people even attest to miracles taking place as a result of Pastor Lou’s gifted intercession. Prayer is one of the major themes of his spoken ministry over the last three decades.
Lou is gathered with some of his staff as they plan the next month’s prayer meetings. One of the staff says, “How about we invite Pastor Joe to lead one of our prayer times next Friday night. He has such a sweet spirit about him.” Pastor Lou laughed out loud and said. “I’m sorry, but singing is not the same thing as praying. Until he grows up and learns how to pray, God can’t do much with his ministry.”
Somehow, only God knows, Pastor Joe heard about Pastor Jose’s table talk. Joe also learned about Pastor Lou’s statements. In a quiet moment of reflection, his anger got the best of him. He signed on to his social media account and sent Pastor Jose an abusive private message of rebuke. He then proceeded to Pastor Lou’s public social media page. With rage, he posted: “I will no longer be in attendance at your Friday night prayer meetings! I will no longer endorse them or encourage the people of First Church to attend them.”
Some harmful fungi can invisibly spread infection in the body. That’s exactly what happened in this made-up story.
These pastors have judged another Man’s servant. They didn’t bless him by speaking well of his gifts and ministry. They each judged him based on their strengths. They mistakenly thought more highly of themselves than they should have.
Instead of acting with maturity and building up their peers, they criticized him. Their hurtful phrasing spread through their staff and into the body of their respective congregations. Their moments of immaturity caused demolition-like division in the body of Christ of Anyville.
Three months later, there was a county-wide ministerial meeting. Joe looked at Lou suspectly. Jose walked right by Joe and Lou and didn’t even speak or return their greetings. Joe got up from his seat and hastily left. “After all,” Joe said to himself, “what business do I have hanging out here with these big-hitters.”
The sadness of this story is about lost potential. Joe, Jose, and Lou all needed one another. God’s Kingdom needed them to build healthy friendships with one another. Though they didn’t realize it that year, the near future held crises for each of their lives.
It sure would have been nice if the three of them would have repented. Imagine what a move of God could have taken place if they’d joined forces. With Joe’s ability to sing, Jose’s strong spoken ministry, and Lou’s powerful gift for prayer – only God knows what could have happened!
They could have been instruments of revival in their county and a great awakening in their region.
Sadly, that didn’t happen. Instead, each of them went through future times of crisis with little support. Pastor Joe left the ministry at the end of the following year. Pastor Jose’s ministry shrunk to a fraction of its former adherents. And rumor has it from some reliable sources that Pastor Lou is having an affair with one of his administrative assistants.
Pastor, you should only be measuring up to Christ and His purposes for your life. Based on this flash-fiction story, here are four serious thoughts for you.
- Do not compare yourself to other ministers. Be the best preacher, singer, prayer leader, or whatever you’ve been gifted and called to be in Christ. Stay in your lane and let God use you.
- Do not expect other pastors and ministers to replicate your area of giftedness. You’re not as great as you think you are, and they’re not as pitiful as you think they are either. Give yourself and others the freedom to fail and grow.
- Do use caution with your words in meetings, from your pulpit, and the platform of social media. You’re called to be an example, and others will follow your lead. Choose to be a blessing with your words about others.
- Do warn your staff about the need for confidentiality. This team (and your council) needs to know that most words spoken in a closed-door meeting are expected to stay there. Teach them not to repeat negative remarks they hear from you or others, but instead pray one for another.
I’ll end this believable story, and it’s accompanying admonitions, with one final sentence. Friend, if you’re guilty of the immaturity displayed by Joe, Jose, or Lou, God knows it’s time to stop the spread and start a remediation.