A Minister Myth

There’s a leadership philosophy that ministers and other leaders are often encouraged to adopt. I believe it’s a myth. I’ll go a step further to say it’s not biblical; in fact, an argument could be made to the opposite.

This philosophy, which I’ve never heard spoken on in any seminar nor was it taught in any of my seminary classes, goes something like this: Pastors can’t have, shouldn’t pursue, and must avoid friendships in the church. If you’ve never heard that before, read that again. And stop and meditate for a moment about it.

One commentary note I come to is this: No wonder ministers find themselves in unhealthy places. For whatever reason, they ignore the “one anothers” of scripture, miss the example of Jesus, then find themselves isolated in a kingdom of one wondering where everyone else is.

I’ve observed everyone else is enjoying and learning to embrace the benefits of the kingdom. In the kingdom of heaven, the citizens receive both encouragement and challenge to be like Jesus. While on earth, he intimately lived this out with his disciples. And it appears his relationship with three of them was a deeper level-one would probably call them friends.

I can’t imagine the last 23 years of my life had I lived by this philosophy. Do I get exemption because I’m single? May I say for all the single people, “Wake Up!” Your marital status doesn’t automatically determine your friendship need. All kingdom dwellers need other dwellers to encourage and challenge them. We all need friends.

Today, thank God for your cheerleaders, your encouragers, your challengers. Pastors and leaders, if these people are scarce in your life, what are you willing to do about it? Your isolated kingdom lacks. Take a step toward the life of your Redeemer. Pursue friendships. Live in the blessing of Jesus’ hope for all kingdom dwellers (John 17).

Blind Believers

I’ve believed a lie all my life. Or maybe it’s a self-made myth. Or maybe an unexplained misunderstanding. Whichever, enough already.

It’s embedded in the lyrics of one of the Church’s most famous hymns. I’ve heard it, sang it, and played it a gazillion times in 51 years, but only recently realized I’ve missed something. Maybe we all have.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see.

Christian friend, before you lose your mind, take your hand off your heart. I’m not saying this hymn is a lie. What I’m saying is we’ve believed an implied principle that isn’t truth.

The lie/myth/misunderstanding is found in the word once. Of course there is a before and after at the moment where grace and faith embrace, what we call salvation. Before lost, after found. Before blind, after see. The lie we tend to believe is this: “I’m 100% healed from my spiritual blindness. It’s one and done. I shouldn’t feel susceptible to sinful blindspots ever again.”

Newsflash: That’s a Lie. Acknowledging a general blindness to sin resulting in repentance rarely goes deeper than the surface. New vision is received. But only through growth and maturity are we able to see our deepest need of grace.

I’m 51. I’m still “seeing” for the first time, finding blindspots I didn’t know I had. Envy, prejudice, anger, judgment…on and on. Why? Tons of reasons. Does it matter? Of course, but what I have to admit is pride can keep me from acknowledging they exist. I am still in need of grace to release me from being a blind believer. I will never not need it. Is it available more than once, every time I need it? According to Paul, yes. And that’s why we can call it amazing. It’s there every time we see for the first time.

“When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down.” Romans 5:20 MSG

“Where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more.” Romans 5:20 CSB