Leaders will face these barriers on their way to the finish line. Determine to finish well.
2) The Opposition Barrier- This is not a fun fact, but TRUE: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12 YAY! As a Christian, from the get-go, a number of things will not necessarily go our way. Once we become one of God’s children we are blessed by God, but actually because of that, will then be hated by some just because we are a believer. John Wayne said,“Life is hard, but it’s even harder if you’re stupid.”,so I am not talking about acting foolishly that draws that even though that occasionally happens.But now I am talking about the target painted on us the minute we became one of God’s saints. We are now battling
1) the world that Jesus said,”will hate us on account of Him.”,
2) the flesh,our body,soul and mind that has fleshly appetites at odds with God; and of course,
3) The Devil, who comes to steal,kill and destroy (Jn10:10) what we have and love while attempting to derail us from our calling. On one hand we can live largely immune to him as long as we do things God’s way, but this takes great wisdom. Without God’s wisdom and the humility to know to use it,we don’t stand a chance against a vile supernatural being who thinks the earth and its people still belong to him.
3) The Money or Mammon barrier-Jesus said plainly,“You can’t serve God and mammon”. Those who serve God have to pick one or the other to serve because there are so many problems that come by doing this, it is impossible to stay in any kind of effective ministry unless this is clear.If it is not clear, even if it is effective, it can become prostituted out to serve $$. Many times pastors who come out of the business world never get the business world out of them, so they try to operate the church as a business before it is seen as God’s organization ,actually an organism to disciple believers who will bring dominion to the planet. Yes it is a business, practically, but it is a group of called out saints and the pastor is charged by God to watch over their souls which is difficult if a pastor has a love of money working in them. Proverbs tell us God will bless us with wealth but we are not pursue it.
Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,
Cease from your consideration of it Proverbs 23:4
Rather than wealth, God’s wisdom should be pursued and wealth comes as a by product of this quest:
Pr 8:19-21“My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, and my yield better than choicest silver. “I walk in the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice, to endow those who love me with wealth, That I may fill their treasuries.
That Hebrew word for endow literally means to receive an inheritance or a bequest or a grant. It is given from God, not pursued and earned. Still like spiritual gifts receiving things from God isn;t passive but requires faith and asking, knocking and seeking but it is more long lasting.
This is a big problem because some churches literally do everything based on money. When a leader is willing to compromise truth and his integrity and where money becomes the factor deciding everything in their ministry,the leaders should either repent of the love of money or at least know they don’t and have the integrity to get out of the ministry. God has a much harder time with a phony than a person who is honest with themselves and God. Acts 5 is a stark example of a couple who thought their wealth allowed them to lie to God and it cost them their lives.
4) The Backsliding Barrier- One person described to me their first 3 years of being a senior pastor as a “meat-grinder” and made it clear that, if he kept allowing the ups and downs of it to get to him, he couldn’t survive it. Someone told me , “being a senior pastor is long periods of routine and boredom punctuated with moments of sheer terror”. The emotionally hurtful experiences of failed projects,leadership difficulties as well as financial pressures that it puts on your time with your family can be too much. Plus, most pastors of a church of 200 have nearly the same pressures on them as churches of 4000 except the pastor has to wear all the hats! The same problems are there but bigger.
With all this pressure,some pastors resort to escape into some kind of sin to cope rather than running to God for help. Some resort to an affair or gambling or other things to alleviate the pain. There is no easy remedy for dealing with all the setbacks and people failures but we can’t stay crippled and must let these go and press on. One big problem is many leaders change their theology to accommodate their failure in a certain area. If they fail in their marriage,divorce and remarry,these are the ones who love to preach on “second chances”. If there is chronic sickness without a healing,then they might focus teaching on character over gifting or emphasizing “when we are weak, He is made strong”. Now all these emphases are fine and good,but to dodge and evade what really occurred is not reality and while we want to do that, it’s always better to face our failure,admit it and try to do it right ! Failure is not fatal but spinning failure into a win when it clearly isn’t ,is dishonest and lacking in truth.We must have a love for the truth or we will certainly give into delusion which is an open door for all kinds of things.Can God use our failure? SURE! But failing for some is harder because the proud have to admit their own fault in it and that requires humility. A lot of our life is a series of situations where God requires us to humble ourselves but we just won’t do it. We must humble ourselves or God has a way to insure it happens. Fall on the Rock or the rock may fall on you.
If we leaders can navigate our way through all of these barriers, walking in love and forgiveness as well as pressing into God then we will be an overcomer and can stand before the Lord someday and hear Him say, “well done”! That’s what we want to hear!
Pastor Marc Lawson
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