The following arrived today in the monthly New Wine e-bulletin. It's written by Mark Bailey, vicar of Holy Trinity, Cheltenham. Lots to think about, the bits in bold are the ones which struck me most...
The other day I was reading an article by an American Church leader who said: “Little people with little vision attack big people with big vision”.
Here’s an observation that I’ve made over the years: the person who is sold out to God convicts everyone around them! But it’s a holy conviction. And there are one of two responses: either people criticise the one who convicts them to justify their complacency or they accept the challenge and sell out to God themselves!
I’ve recently been reading Nehemiah again, and that’s what’s happening in Nehemiah 4:14. Nehemiah has a God-sized vision. But a couple of negative people named Tobiah and Sanballat try to discourage Nehemiah. But Nehemiah, some people say, “tuned them out”. The reality is, if you listen to the wrong people that undoubtedly will sway your vision.
Here’s a discovery I’ve made over 13 years of pastoring at Trinity: most of the people who come to your church from another church, want your church to conform to the church they came from – (you might need to read that twice!). Unchurched people don’t have an agenda, that’s why they don’t cause the same sort of problems. Church people often want your church to conform to ‘their’ church – it’s natural, it’s subconscious.
I just want to say, as we begin a new year and lean into leadership and ministry, please don’t let anyone keep you from being you! I’m more and more convinced that part of spiritual maturity is resisting conformity and moving towards originality. It’s about becoming more and more comfortable in your own unique skin. We’re all called to conform to Christ. We’re also called to become unlike anyone else who’s ever lived! It’s not too late to make new year’s resolutions! Why don’t you resolve to make sure that you be you.
I heard somebody else say recently as well: “I don’t want to rise and fall based on the opinions of people”.
This same pastor, for what it’s worth, has someone screen his mail and email and he doesn’t read unsigned letters! Of course we need constructive criticism, but that ought to come from the people who are closest to us. If you listen to the wrong people, you can become like them.
It seems to me that Nehemiah stayed above the fray!
And here’s a thought that really challenges me: “Leaders don’t take people where they want to go. Leaders take people where they need to go”. It’s so easy for churches to become ingrown. It’s so easy for us just to gaze at one another’s navels if we’re not careful. And it’s so easy to end up singing ‘Kumbaya’! I’m increasingly convinced that, if someone isn’t 100% on board with the vision of your church, then no matter how much they give, you need their seat. The truth is that, as we go into 2007, I know that I don’t want people who are for me; I want people who are with me.
I pray that you might find those people in your own churches and fellowships and ministries as we journey together in the work of the Kingdom.