Christian Living

The Right Thing

What criteria do you use to make decisions? Are they different between issues involving your family, your work life, or church and ministry? Some of us leadership often find ourselves having to make difficult decisions. In reality, the winning argument is often right in front of us. The difficulty is in the follow through, choosing the right path.

Pastors seem to have to deal with this more than most. I think the closest comparison is that of a politician. In fact, most who choose to be honest would say that church life can become quite political. After all, we are eleceted by the people of the church (in most denominations), accountable to the people of the church, and can be asked to resign or be replaced by an act of the people of the church.

Because of those things, pastors often tiptoe around certain issues they feel are sensitive. In most cases I have to say that there is wisdom in doing so. In others, there is a distinct feeling that if a poll of the right people isn’t in favor, regardless of the usefulness of rightness of a decision or action, it is tabled.

Let me take a moment to make something clear. I am sensitive to and in favor of discerning factors such as timing, proper vision casting and preparation. But inaction on issues for the sake of saving face or keeping a percentage of parishioners pleased with the pastor has to be seriously looked down upon.

We consider it a sin of omission when we are commanded in Scripture to soay or to do, but choose instead not to. Isn’t it the same for the pastor or leader who feels the clear leading of God’s Spirit but chooses, for earthly reasons, not to heed?

This became personal for me when I was accused of making a decision or taking a particular action (I honestly don’t recall) that this person thought I would not make if I were the senior pastor. The reasoning was that if my paycheck depended upon it, having to worry about keeping tithe payers, etc. happy, I wouldn’t do it. Clearly, this person didn’t know me as well as he/she thought.

Call me young and idealistic, or call me green and foolish, but I believe that we should do the right thing when we clearly know what it is, and avoid the wrong in the same case. I have a nagging feelings inside me that the pastor that doesn’t do this might consider that God may be preparing for his/her replacement.

If I had not felt led to a life of ministry, I may have ended up as a politician. I love history, and I read biographies on some of my leadership heroes. Many of these were statesmen of the past.

I use the term statesmen versus politician because there is a clear difference if you come to look at a man/woman in office. A politician is someone with an agenda, influenced by lobbyists and contributors, hoping to make a difference but in the end, finds themselves at the mercy of the system. A statesmen is someone who acts out of conviction, unafraid of opposition or controversy, striking out to settle his/her heart’s cry for making something right.

In many cases we don’t allow our pastors to be God’s statesman. We shackle them with the chains created by our conception of what God provided him/her for. We’ve forgotten why God gave the church the gift of our pastor. I’ll cover that in another post.

For tonight, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I do what I know to do?
  • Why don’t I? (Because let’s be honest, we don’t always do it, do we?)
  • What keeps me from choosing what I know is right?
  • How can I help my leaders make the right choices?

And remember this:

Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17, NKJV).