Pastors…Set God’s People Free!

Earlier today I spoke with a retired pastor who is my spiritual director and mentor about an upcoming funeral.

I asked him, “Bill, have you ever been to a Baptist funeral?” (Bill is not Baptist.) His response broke my heart.

“I couldn’t see how it was comforting to the family at all,” he said in a quiet voice. “It was all hell fire and brimstone with an altar call.”

“Sounds like an evangelist speaking at what Baptists call a revival,” I resounded!

After our conversation a quote came to mind. It was Abraham Maslow that said…

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

Pastors, God has given you a toolbox that is full of tools.

Yes. Without doubt, He has given you truth. And sometimes we must, with mercy and grace, deliver that truth to those who have forsaken the Bible. In his day, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door at Wittenburg because the church had abandoned these Biblical truths. But, always remember He’s given you other tools as well.

The New Testament writers challenge pastors to rebuke. Paul commands both Timothy and Titus, young men in the ministry, to “reprove” and “rebuke” those under their spiritual responsibility. But it’s the exception, not the rule. Too often we make rebuke the rule of our preaching lives.

Paul also challenges the servants of God to “edify” or build up, to encourage, to admonish, to beseech, to uplift, to pray for, and to mourn with fellow disciples of Christ’s. Do you use those tools in your God-Given Tool Box?

In reality, God uses the New Testament writers to tell us more about loving people, pleading with people, encouraging people, uplifting people, mourning with people, and building people up much more frequently than it ever says to rebuke, reprove, or chastise people.

Much of what we do as pastors is what I call, “ranting, raving, or rambling!” I too have been far too guilty of attacking the church rather than appealing to the church. It’s a reality of which I am well aware and want to see change for me and others.

As you consider your own ministry, will you consider your entire tool box? Please do! God’s given you a call to love His people. As Christ told Peter, “feed my sheep.”

Abused sheep don’t eat from their shepherd’s hand. Unfed sheep die trying to find food on their own.

Feed Jesus’ sheep with encouragement, build them up in hope, give them grace through opening up to them the love of God in Christ. And love them toward lives lived for a Savior who died for them, rather than forcing them into obedience.

Remember, forced obedience is slavery. Jesus came to set us all free!

“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free”

Jesus in John 8:32 NASB

Everything’s not a nail and maybe your hammer is too well used.

Be like Jesus. Set your people free.

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