Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Edification: The Story of the Preacher and His Servant

I overheard a "preacher" talking down to someone who worked for him. His words were demeaning and demoralizing. He was very discouraging. I looked over at his "worker" and encouraged him by saying, "You work as unto the Lord, and you are very valuable." The "preacher" then began to lecture and dismiss me telling me that I did not understand the respect due to God's “anointed” preachers. He dismissed me by calling me a little boy who was interfering with him disciplining one of his servants. The preacher did not know that I, too, share the gift of a pastor, and I also have people who work with me. As a leader, I do not assume that anyone on our payroll works for me; they work with me. We collectively share the vision of the church. I work at making sure they understand that I need them to use and flourish in their God-given abilities to work as unto the Lord. I do not run a plantation. I manage God’s business, and His business is run with love, patience, longsuffering, and every fruit of the Spirit. I understand the need to be excellent, but, as a leader, I will never allow the need to be perfect in everything to cause me to severely chide any person who makes an understandable mistake.

I immediately knew how that young man felt. I was once in his shoes. I knew how it felt to be talked down to and looked at as if I was not a person worthy of respect. I vividly remember being told I was “nothing” and a “nobody” by a clergyman. I stood in front of my mirror many nights reassuring myself I was someone worthy of respect. I would look myself in the mirror and tell myself that I was indeed someone in Christ. I refused to accept those words spoken towards me by a clergyman.

This young man kept his eyes fixed on the floor as his “master” proceeded to fix the order his “servant” did not get right. As I left the counter, I looked at the young man and reassured him that he was somebody worthy of respect whether his pastor thought so or not.

I have seen many clergymen severely reprimand those who work with them. I have seen things being thrown, names being called, and insults being hurled. The recipients of this treatment were discouraged, which means courage was being ripped out of them. This young man was being emasculated.

We must remember that God’s business is one of integrity and edification. It is also one of rebuke and discipline, but righteous rebuke and discipline is loving, kind, and patient. It is not demeaning or degrading. Spiritual leaders must make sure they are casting the vision of the Shepherd’s church, not one that builds their selfish empire. As clergymen, we must be an active demonstration of love and care. We must patiently teach and instruct those who work alongside us as we would our own children. We must always treat men and women with the respect they deserve, and we must never seek to treat one person different due to their position. The janitor should be treated with the same respect as the CEO. Everyone should feel valuable and useful. And we must make sure we are sensitive to everyone’s diverse backgrounds, personal life, and family obligations by making proper provisions wherever and whenever necessary.

If I were ever given the opportunity to speak with that preacher I would want him to know that he is doing more harm than good. His words are not edifying, which means they fail to build. Instead he is destroying that young man from within. I could assume that this man was brought up the same way. He probably learned that pattern of abuse from someone he respected enough to obey. My only hope is that the young man recognizes his worth and value and becomes strong enough to abandon that toxic environment. In the interim, I pray his quiet and gentle spirit ministers to the preacher who lords over him. And I can only pray that the preacher’s heart is softened and changed.

In the conclusion of it all, we must edify. We must build the True Shepherd's sheep. We cannot continue this abusive mindset that is alive in many churches today. I pray those pastors who use emotional manipulation and harsh words to beat their servants will recognize their ways and repent. This is a closeted issue that many in the church refuse to talk about, but it is something that must be exposed and dealt with immediately.