I no longer consider someone to be a “church leader” simply because they hold a title or position, whether it be the position of pastor, deacon, or head of ministry etc… In fact, I believe many “leaders” today are self appointed leaders to self created positions.
I do have some friends that I would call “leaders”. They are humble and love the Lord. When I look at them I can safely say they have what it takes to be an example for other people. They have the capability to inspire and teach. Their character, lifestyles and desire to seek Jesus and His righteousness are good examples to follow, therefore I consider them to be “leaders” in the Kingdom.
Many people in the church world might consider my “leader” friends ineffective and unimpressive. They can’t whip up a big crowd or produce a big budget. My friends don’t have huge followings, in fact some of them could even be labelled as ‘loners’. However, that puts them in good company considering Jesus Himself would be considered ineffective, unimpressive and a loner by today’s church leadership standards. He was considered a failure by the “church” of His day.
But I digress.
Today I would like to write a bit concerning how I came to this conclusion of “leadership” or rather, this conclusion of what leadership is not! A little something personal about myself. Including why I have developed an automatic reaction that I call the Turtle Routine when a so called “leader” crosses my path in life.
Definition of my Turtle Routine is as follows:
*Pull into my shell and cautiously peep out, thereby preventing my head from getting stomped on and giving no opportunity to have my neck severed.
*Taking some time to assess the situation before I make a move and cross the road just because everyone else does.
*A significant lack of confidence that many “leaders” are what they profess to be.
I have been contemplating recently on some of my personal experiences with some “church leaders” and came up with a rather grim series of events that spans about 30 years of walking with the Lord. I have listed some of them below.
First, I grew up Amish and was “excluded” from that church and it’s leaders when the Lord gave me revelation and I experienced the new birth that included a radical change in my life. In their opinion I was operating in pride and sin because I left the church. They felt I was deceived to believe I could be put right with God by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone.
In all seriousness I must say, I was not without fault in some of my responses during the events I’m sharing in this post. In this particular one, it certainly didn’t make it easier for me when I quite boldly told them I didn’t believe they knew the Lord they professed to serve.
I had to come out.
From there I became a member of another church in that area that was comprised of many ex-Amish. I had that privilege taken away when I insisted on being rebaptised as a believer. I didn’t regard my baptism in the Amish for the purpose of becoming a church member, as a truly scriptural baptism. The leaders in this church were hesitant because they didn’t want to insult the Amish and insinuate by rebaptism that Amish baptism wasn’t a “sufficient baptism”.
I’m sure having my membership taken away from this church had a lot to do with the fact that after months of stonewalling on their part I gave them an ultimatum. I informed them I hadn’t changed my mind about being rebaptised and if they wouldn’t accommodate me, I would find someone else that would. I was labelled as rebellious. And I did end up having to find someone else to baptise me. So I left.
The third event came after moving to another state where I became a part of an exciting new non-denominational church consisting of many new converts who had come out of dead religion. Coming out of death with grave clothes still hanging on and an unwillingness to part with some of those grave clothes, like inflated egos and power trips.
While attending there I began to receive revelation and spiritual understanding of scripture and to see that God uses women in ministry as well as men and that women are equal to men in His eyes. Furthermore, I was beginning to feel He wanted to use me.
Eventually I was labeled “a Jezebel” and told I needed to leave or they would be forced to close the doors of the church! I was informed I had such a powerful and negative “Jezebel effect” on the preachers there, that they were essentially paralyzed and unable to preach if I was in the room! I could have called their bluff and stayed to see if they really would close the doors of their newly remodeled church building. But I didn’t do that. I left.
Again, I’m sure my situation wasn’t helped by the fact that I left some pamphlets in the leader’s mailboxes, presenting argument from scripture that suggested they were the ones that were actually operating in the spirit of Jezebel, not me!
Number four, moving on to a third state where I attended a Prosperity/Faith camp Bible School for a year.
After I had been there for some time I started to receive merciful revelation and understanding of scripture that I thank God for! I came to understand that taking money from the people for “the ministry” and drawing exorbitant salaries from that money to fund very extravagant lifestyles was not pleasing to God.
Through a personal experience He made it abundantly clear to me that He would judge them for their greed and I didn’t want to be a part of that judgement and eventually I left.
By this time I had a little wisdom and I didn’t issue any ultimatums or leave any pamphlets when I left. But I have continued to be vocal about the error I see in the Prosperity/Faith doctrine.
Next, I felt the Lord was leading me back to the state I was born in and where I had started from. I needed a break so I began attending a mainline denominational church where I could sit on the back pew and do the token one hour Sunday morning ritual for a while. That pew got very uncomfortable as I started to learn a little bit of the history there. That along with the constant push from headquarters with their annual vote ‘to accept or not to accept’ homosexuals in the pulpit, made it difficult.
The Free Mason influence was very strong in the church and among its members. But we were assured from the pulpit on a regular basis that God loves, loves, loves everybody and ungodly lifestyles and unscriptural beliefs didn’t seem to be a big deal. In fact, it was all about love, love, love and acceptance. And then more love! And more acceptance.
I couldn’t take it any more and moved on.
The latest and my most recent encounter with “church leadership” came while attending a local non-denominational church that claimed to be ‘Spirit filled’. After attending there for a short time I felt led to encourage the congregation on several occasions to repent of sin.
Soon I started to feel invisible daggers, you know, the ones where you can feel the coldness even though the faces are smiling?
The messages there were about a wonderful ‘new revelation of grace’ that in reality has all the ear marks of the scriptural definition for lawlessness.
In the meantime, I was privately labelled a ‘legalistic law preacher’ by the powers that be. Their diagnosis of my problem was; I did not fully understand freedom nor the grace of God because I was raised in legalism . I keenly felt the cold shoulder of un-fellowship so once again I left.
About six months later the front page of the local newspaper headlines read, “Local Pastor charged with Child Solicitation”.
It was him. He had been involved with an under age girl in the congregation and got caught. And to my indignation and dismay, it had started during the time I was attending that church.
Needless to say, these experiences have opened my eyes concerning “leaders” in the church today!
I am in no way suggesting God doesn’t appoint leaders in the Body of Christ. Scripture is quite clear He does. Nor am I saying that every “leader” in the respective churches or denominations I’ve mentioned in this post are bad people. Many love the Lord and serve Him. But the reality is, too many of the compromising on exalted pedestals of “leadership” today, bear little resemblance to Jesus Christ.
I was contemplating on all this and it has moved me to rejoice in the faithfulness of God! His faithfulness to bring me out and bring me through and keep me!
He who said “Follow me…” He is my Leader!