One of the downfalls of my early pastoral ministry in the 1970s-1990s was the flawed teaching of Pastoral dominance. Many of those who I had great respect for during those days taught me that the pastor had inside direction from God and should never be questioned in any situation. I don’t discount the important fact that God DOES lead His men in leadership abilities and often lays upon the heart of pastors the right direction for a local church, family situations and even denominations of churches. However, pastors need the help of good men, even controversial men to help him in situations of difficulty and directions of life.
I often grieve the fact that as I reflect on the past God allowed certain individuals to come along side of me to help me, however, due to the fact it threatened my pastoral dominance I treated them as disloyal subjects. Don’t misunderstand me, I know that Satan sends his emissaries too to do us wrong through prideful, power hungry, vain persons who vie for dominance and personal glory. But that’s not always the case.
Proverbs 11:14(MSG)14 Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. Proverbs 15:22 (MSG)22 Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed. Proverbs 24:6 (MSG). Strategic planning is the key to warfare; to win, you need a lot of good counsel.
I was reminded this morning of how Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. and Dr. Johnny Hunt surrounded themselves with good men, excellent counsellors and people of selflessness to grow God’s Kingdom. Currently, I observe that Andy Stanley invites the same environment.
Today, my entire attitude has changed from those strong legalistic days of the 70s-90s. I understand the grace of God and how God closely watches over us to assist us to live out our identity and destination through safe and secure relationships of family, friends and ministry associates. I have never enjoyed the Christian life as much as I do today. I still struggle along on my journey, however, my outlook toward God and people has dramatically changed.
The words from, Trust for Today, “One of the surpassing gifts of grace is the confidence to be less afraid of critique. Grace says you won’t be ruined even if everyone’s negative critique is accurate. Grace says you have endless value to God before you try anything.”
The next time you face criticism follow the old expression, “eat the meat and spit out the bones.” In other words, accept what is valid and forget what does not apply.