I heard the following message today:A Shepherd and His Unregenerate Sheep
It is by Matt Chandler at the Desiring God 2009 Conference for Pastors.
Here is a text excerpt of what he said that touched me.
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)
I learned this one the hard way. Two years ago, this was probably one of the most heartbreaking things in my years of ministry. I was at lunch with some people that had just gotten back from a missions trip in India.
I was listening to different people and was hearing a story. There were two buses that took our crew and another crew to get out to a place. Our crew decided to tell the best joke they’ve ever heard. When they pull up, the other group gets out and there’s tears running down their face.
It disturbed me. I couldn’t let it go. I didn’t know what to do with it. Why, on the way out to do missions, are people who are covenant members of The Village doing knock-knock jokes when the people in the other van are calling out for mercy to God?
One morning I was reading the Bible and journaling my thoughts. I had a surly professor in college who I loved and hated. He had an extreme, high expectation of you. He said, “Five years in, what’s wrong with your church is wrong with you.” I don’t know if he’s right, but the Holy Spirit said, “Remember?” I laid on the floor and sobbed because my witty, sarcastic humor had been embedded into The Village so much that on the way out to such a dark, spiritual destination, we’re doing knock-knock jokes. It devastated me. I constantly pray that God would protect the people of The Village from me.
Be the example in word, in deed, in purity, in love, in prayer. Be the example.
Mike commenting again...
As our church ponders the issue of eldership, this is a sobering reality. If the Lord places me in an eldership role I may face similar circumstances to what Pastor Chandler experienced. What's more, though, is that I think we can apply the same reasoning to the leadership of our families. As a father, God has already called me to that position of leadership.
As much as I love my children, there are times when I become irritated at attitudes, comments, or actions that they may do. Yet, it doesn't take long to realize that the undesirable behaviour I see in them, in most cases, is simply a parroting of what they have seen me say or do. When I discipline them, my heart is pricked that I am more or less guilty of the same thing. The circumstances may be different. I may be more mature in hiding my feelings, and in judging the appropriateness of a particular comment at a particular time. But the fact remains that there is sin in my heart that shows up in the actions of my children way too much. My prayer right now is for humility and brokenness, and that those are the things that my children would emulate in my life.