Yea, rant alert, I’m not even sure how this is going to come out, but I’ve really felt I have to deal with this. I’m hoping instead of the usual knee jerk reaction of the world that I be given the benefit of the doubt, so try to over come the narrow minded lashback and hear me out. While this discussion was prompted by an “Inc Magazine” article about integrity. The discussion has been rattling around in my head and was prompted by an encounter with at least a couple with whom I have the issue.
(The article at issue is from the “The Art of Strategic Influence” produced by GE Capital, the article is in the Dec 2013/Jan 2014 issue p 8), we good with all the attribution stuff?
“…the factor that often spells the difference between success and failure is ‘strategic influence’. Today, an executive’s strategic influence is not nearly as dependent on authority as it is on integrity, and on the strong ties forged with people inside and outside the organization who respect that executive’s knowledge and point of view and respond positively to them.”
OK, now my perspective in this context, the world seems to think that all the churches should come together, you know the cheesy “coexist” bumper sticker, ya, I know, bumper sticker philosophy. Well frankly that’s where most of these people are coming from, about an inch thick and an inch wide, i.e. do not know from whence they speak. That is an issue of integrity, where does anyone come off throwing their “opinion” around, when they just don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s not a matter of perspective or opinion, it comes down to what is genuine, has integrity. As a proof of that, we have become more detached from God and what He has taught us and we have more dishonesty (think corporate, political scandals of the last thirty years), more corruption, violence on a scale that is becoming out of control, on a scale that was unimaginable even a century ago, warfare in the twentieth century resulted in more death and violence then every century in history, combined. All of this while the world continues to deny genuine belief and worship to God and worship of self, of personal opinion and choice. There is no integrity and no one cares the least about it, it’s my way or no way.
Well that effect extends to those who profess Christ. I’m not saying that they are not genuinely saved in Christ what I am saying is that without any real preparation, they presume to teach and preach on Christ’s behalf and often just don’t know what they’re talking about. At the same time they presume to criticize the established church, because the church won’t recognize their ministry. Ya, sort of like asking the American Medical Association to recognize a guy who with no medical training sets up in the strip mall doing heart surgery. Ya! Really! To that extent. There is spiritual poison in the world, poison that will kill physically and spiritually, that is, it messes up people’s minds and bodies and puts there eternal life in the resurrection in jeopardy. To those who presume to be a pastor, they really don’t care, it’s all about them and what they teach and don’t try to confuse them with the facts.
These little groups are usually the result of one person, maybe a husband and wife or small group and they decide to pull together a group. As far as that goes, great, but then they decide, well with no other background they go ahead and start telling people how they should worship, that it should be about what they want and what makes them feel good and really nothing much in terms of what God wants, what He’s trying to do in people’s lives and how He is trying to make us mature in Christ. Nasty stuff like Jesus’ passion, martyrs, standing up for Christ in a hostile world, well they don’t want that, what a buzz kill! They want a “god” whose there to make them all happy and smiley, gives them what they want, when they want it.
These are people who haven’t put in the time to genuinely learn what God has been teaching His people in His revelation for two millenia, no, they have a better idea and if God wants He can get on board, but they really know what’s best. There is no attempt to lead from a position of preparation and truly being trained to really help people in Christ, creating an environment of respect and integrity, they’ve learned how to put together an organization that is all about people pleasing and God? Well He should just respect that, and the established church should too. I’m not letting the Church off the hook, the liberal/flatline, uhmm mainline church has been caught up in the people-pleasing mode also and has made itself look pathetic and irrelevant, which most of these churches are. Hey, even as a Lutheran, I will give credit to the Roman Catholic church, we may not agree on a lot, but the Roman church has maintained, doctrinal and liturgical credibility, albeit credibility has suffered in other areas. But ya, let’s get over that too, really from business, to government to education to the medical establishment, there’s been enough lack of integrity and credibility to go around. Let me fire back on those who love to quote the Bible but don’t know enough about the Bible to fill a thimble, “let those who are without sin cast the first stone”. Those in any other institution, have at least, if not more, than their share of sin, so get over your bigoted attitude toward the Church of Christ.
Let me cut to the chase, if you don’t put in the time and work to truly become a legitimate Christian leader, pastor, than you have cheated and that is a lack of integrity.
As the writer of the Inc article writes: “It begins with networking, progresses to relationship building and culminates in a strong bond characterized by a high level of trust and respect, to the point where the person values your opinion over most.” These little groups expect the church to endorse their little efforts, they tell me I should trust and respect them, but then give me no basis whatsoever to do so. If you want to truly be what you profess, put in the time, make the sacrifice and continue to do so. There is way too much mediocrity in the world as a whole, why should I lower my standards, compromise all my work and effort to indulge someone’s uninformed opinion?
The lack of integrity of these little groups and frankly many in the flat line/main line church reflects on the credibility of the Christian church as a whole. When the church is raising up men who are genuinely (or should be) concerned with the spiritual health of society as a whole and each individual and when there are a bunch of groups who think it’s all about jumping around, doing people-pleasing productions, just plain “make me feel good”. Groups that make the church, as a whole, look frivolous and irrelevant. Look at society. Do you see a lot of genuine spiritual health? Luther said that a Christian pastor is a “seel sorger” a “soul doctor”, one who is responsible for the spiritual health of those He is called to lead. Is it spiritual health when the prescription isn’t about you and the cancer of sin that’s eating your soul, and it’s about making you happy, simply being a people pleaser? A lot of these people who presume to take spiritual leadership really need to take a hard look and remember that those who teach and preach are going to be held to a higher account at the final judgment. If these people are seen to be frivolous or worse, spiritual poisoning, how can a truly righteous, holy, perfect God not condemn them? Maybe they should get over themselves and submit to genuine Christian discipling. How long will the church tolerate being a joke, because a bunch of people presume to speak for Christ and make us all look like a laughing stock to the world. How long will this damage to the church be tolerated by those who truly want to be disciples of Christ and are indulging and supporting false churches? When will we as leaders in the church take Christian spiritual health seriously instead of as a party and realize the tremendous benefit that we can bestow on society as a whole? How can the church be a positive influence, a credible partner with all the aspects of society, when we do not denounce those who treat being a faithful Christian as just a frivolous party?