Iron Sharpens Iron
What matters most?
I have no doubt that hard choices have to be made and that they are a hard burden to bear. I have no doubt that those in leadership have to shoulder responsibilities that most of us could not imagine. I do, however, have to wonder sometimes if we can forget that those who work “for” us in ministry are people first; not employees.
I have my own experience with hurt, and this has given me a heart for appropriate care for Pastors who need it. There are at times a disconnect between what we say we believe and what we do. The preaching of grace, redemption, love, and reconciliation permeates our pulpits, but I fear it does not permeate our hearts. I fear what we preach is not put often enough into practice.
Any Christian organization should seek to exemplify the Kingdom traits it wishes to see within its churches. Traits like those we find in Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” or the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. It’s these traits, among many others found in Scripture, that I believe should be present within any Christian organization.
When dealing with hard choices that involve our pastors and churches, we must first remember that all of those involved are real people. Pastors and their congregants are real people with real issues, problems, feelings, doubts, and hurts. We must be cautious and wise in how we deal with matters of discipline, and even more so in how we handle our pastors who have been hurt.
Think of a Christian organization, and ask yourself, do they display the traits that we expect to find within our churches? Is there evidence of righteousness, or is there an effort to establish peace with troubles arise, and is there true joy found within the people that work there? I think we should all expect that those in high leadership positions exemplify the Kingdom just as much, if not more, than our churches do.
When Pastors experience hurt, they should not be left on their own. Yes, that Pastor will need to surround themselves with wise leaders who can help to guide them in their healing. However, there should not be silence from those in leadership. Even a phone call or personalized email can make a world of difference. We must keep in mind that hurting people don’t always reach out, so it can be on those around them to extend their hand first.
We need to think of Pastors as people and not just employees. For instance, how does the decision we’re about to make affect the Pastor personally? Are we willing to stand by our decision AND stand behind the Pastor who may need support or even counselling for the coming months? Then there’s the reality of the Pastor’s family who will also be affected by a hard decision. Are we considering all of the consequences of the decision, but more importantly, are we willing to support and guide the Pastor involved through the process?
I understand that there can be an immense amount of pressure on those in leadership positions to balance Christ and appearance. It’s a nasty thing to think about, but it is the world we live in. However, if we cannot exemplify Christ and the Kingdom of God in our actions, our decisions, and in the consequences of such, then we have no right to be within leadership.
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected.” Luke 12:48
The world outside of the Church should never be more loving, gentle, forgiving and compassionate than we are. As Christians we are called to be Christlike in all that we say, do, or think. Paul reminds us in Romans 12:1-2 to not “conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Simply put, we are not to work the way the world works, or to always to things the way the world does them.
We are to be known by our love for one another. What good is it if we leave each other, especially other Pastors, to deal with our trauma and issues on their own? There is no love to be found in watching a brother or sister fight for breath in their circumstances. There is no love in sending a generic “praying for you” text if you don’t actually pray for that person. And there is certainly no love in thinking that because you went through hard times alone, then everyone else has to too.
Iron Sharpens Iron
If, then, we are called to live contrary to the world, how do we support one another? For one, we could just do it. Think beyond ourselves and saving face and think about how we can continue to serve one another in our hurt. If you have to make a decision that will hurt another brother or sister, then be with them in that hurt. Don’t leave them to work through it all on their own.
As Proverbs 27:17 says, one person will sharpen another. We are to support one another and to build one another up in service. Our job or business is no different from any other if we do not have love for one another. It doesn’t matter how many orphans you feed if you throw one of your own under the bus or out on the street.
We are all in this together and need the support and help of each other. Christianity is a communal faith. We do not grow in faith alone, but in community with each other. Which is all the more reason for us to be there for each other when a hard decision has to be made.
I’m not saying that we try to avoid hurting people’s feelings. What I am saying is that in those hard decisions we remember that we are dealing with real people. We’re dealing with brothers and sisters in our faith whom we are called to love and to serve. Christian businesses and head offices must remember this vital fact as we move forward in this post-Christian era.
Let iron sharpen iron.
Let love rule your hearts.
Let the Kingdom of God be present in your work.