The Lord woke me up last night, gently reprimanding me for an attitude of the heart I had nurtured over the past few months. Several years ago I read in a book written by our former Bishop, Dick Wills, about an incident in the church he had served for years before being elected a Bishop. There was an issue (I don’t remember the specifics) that had come up which had some people in an uproar. There was a meeting planned, and there was a real possibility of there being some very acrimonious words and actions. At that moment, Pastor Wills reminded the leaders and members that he had been there Pastor for a significant number of years, and if they couldn’t trust him to lead by that point, they never would. People searched their hearts… From that point forward, the congregation trusted their pastor to lead.
I have walked in that place (as a trusted leader) in this congregation for several years, and it has been a great blessing. While I don’t claim to be “Bishop” material, I have never been afraid to lead when I felt it was of the Lord. There have certainly been miscues—times I got ahead of Him or perhaps missed His more subtle leadings—but He is supremely faithful and we have come a long and good way as a congregation.
In June, I will complete our thirteenth year as your pastor, and begin year fourteen with you. It has been an incredible journey, and I am deeply grateful that it is in many ways just beginning! However, I am confessing to you that I allowed an attitude to well up in me that has not served me or this congregation well. I began to have conversations in my mind earlier this year where I imagined saying to the congregation “I have been your pastor for thirteen years now—either you trust me to lead or you never will.” I suppose it is all the wonderful yet challenging things that are on our congregational “plate” that had me thinking in such a defensive and confrontational way. Change challenges all of us, and I guess I was bracing for the inevitable questions—but not in the most helpful way, in turns out.
The Lord gently reminded me of all this and that it had had allowed a certain arrogance to arise in me—an air of defiance and defensiveness that may not have been verbalized but was nevertheless working on my heart. Perhaps in a more humble place, I would have been quicker to share with the whole congregation when changes (at least the ones I knew about!) were coming. As a couple of trusted friends have reminded me lately, a little forewarning (about things like the sign) would have quieted several wondering and confused hearts.
I share this because I felt the Lord prompt me to. I am so grateful that most all of you trust me to lead you, and I will continue to do so. In this season of heightened and directed prayer, it also seems that the Lord wants to do some deeper character work in me—and perhaps in you too. When He wakes me up, good things come, even when there is a gentle reprimand. I pray He is waking you up on occasion too, and as you pray DAILY to see strongholds fall and multitudes of people lifted up, I imagine Father will be waking us all up more often!!