|PREVIEW John Maxwell's Developing the Leader Within You|
Let me remind you of the "Perfect Minister" chain letter that
was popular a few years ago:
Let me remind you of the "Perfect Minister" chain letter that was popular a few years ago:
We all know that the only perfect minister is the perfected minister. Ministers, including preachers, prophets, teachers and church leaders, are often referred to as shepherds in the Bible. A real sheep herder has a low job with only one duty -- to protect his sheep. Yet Father promises prosperity and reward to shepherds who seek his direction. But Father is also very critical of shepherds. In one place he says, "the shepherds are stupid, they donít ask me for direction, so they havenít prospered, and their flock is scattered" (Jer 10:21). Itís OK for Father to criticize, chastise and rebuke because we shepherds are working for him. Heís the boss; nobody else is. Yet itís still human nature to judge anotherís servants, is it not? And that is what todayís passage is all about.
Children Pipe the Tune
Some people think they know enough about "religion" to take charge of both sheep and shepherd. However big or popular they think they are, they put their tiny feet into the shoes of Yahweh Elohim and then try to stomp around the church. Sensitive people usually get stomped.
In a religious sense, the problem about stepping into the shepherdís shoes is that once youíre in, you canít step out. You will be held accountable.
Some folks hold an unrealistic standard of expectation for shepherds. Yahshua is saying that some sit in judgment of the anointed, like selfish children, like Ďlittle Yahweh Elohims.í They want to "pipe the tune" for their shepherds. If they whistle Dixie, the shepherd is expected to dance the Kentucky Two-step. If they wail, the shepherd better manufacture a tear at least.
Likewise, sometimes folks want to create an unrealistic standard of piety for the shepherd, not regarding it as binding on themselves. This is called a double-standard. Some self-righteously demand that others walk a narrow way that they themselves never walk. Sometimes these folks get into motherís shoes; sometimes into the shoes of a preacher whoís been dead since Ď55. They want church to be like it was when they were children because they are children still. They want to do some Ďclogging.í Clop! Clop! Sometimes they Ďclopí the shepherd. They clop and scatter the sheep. Yahshua calls them "children" at best and "wolves in sheepísí clothing" at worst (Matt 7:15). Clodhoppers will be held accountable.
Society Pipes the Tune
Sometimes the whole congregation dances a tune. Sometimes itís the Song of Society. Sometimes itís Yankee Doodle. However public opinion waltzes, so waltzes the church. However far to the left or right the chosen political party hip hops, so hip hops the church. However deep into the abyss of Yahweh Elohimless entertainment our culture slip-slides away into, the church slip-slides down the same muddy board. Over a few generations, the church does the watusi, the twist, the funky chicken. Dancing to the tune of the world results in wrong standards of behavior for believers and ultimate condemnation from Father. To quote one tune, "How can it be wrong when it feels so right?" Dancing the worldís tune leads to what Wesley called anomianism; that is, commandment breaking. The church is just another social club or secret society or dinner club or lodge of religion club in a world of clubs. A good little thing, but not unique, and definitely out of Fatherís will.
Often the loudest voice calls the tune.
The world judges the same way; especially the religious world. Everybody is blasting away at the same time, and the loudest blasters are the most influential. Because theyíre the loudest or get the most publicity or have the most people fall off the stage, we think theyíre right and righteous. We dance right along. But if we are genuinely seeking a Kingdom, it ought not be this way. There is a still, small voice that we listen for, not a deafening roar. We donít follow the crowd; we only follow Father. We are in this world but not of it. We treasure life, but our treasures are not in this life. Zeal for our Fatherís house consumes us. Doesnít it?
18. "John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon'; 19. the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'"
Father bestows gifts and methods upon his shepherds as he chooses, not as the congregation or the world or mother might choose. John the Baptizer was a Nazarite under a vow. He was the leader in the messianic holiness movement. He was considered to be radically conservative -- a fundamentalist. He came in perfect holiness -- eating meager fare like locusts and honey -- never experiencing the refreshing taste of The King of Beers. He took vows of poverty and chastity. He never broke the Sabbath. He never ate a pork chop or a fried shrimp or a catfish. He never had a girlfriend. Even the holy Pharisees came out to the river to admire his stuff. John had never even cut his hair, ever. Our holiness brethren today would still probably demand that John get a manís haircut before he got a listen.
On the other hand, Yahshua came eating his way across Israel -- accepting one dinner invitation after another, eating with the holiness gang, eating with notorious traitors, eating with diseased lepers. He made his own wine, and people at a party said it fine wine. He even called wine his blood. He hobnobbed with sinners, prostitutes, traitors, assassins, as well as the elite, like the Kingís secretaryís wife. The hometown church owls wouldnít even let him preach where he grew up. Yahshua wasnít holy enough! They kicked him out of town! But Yahshua danced to the Fatherís quiet tune despite heavy pressure from family, friends, religious leaders, government and the devil. Like Father, he too was a quiet man. His ministry was quiet, yet dynamic. He got lots of dinner invitations, just like I do. You might be surprised to know that Yahshua was considered a radical liberal in his day, yet Father was faithful to use him as a signpost to Heaven. John the Baptist was a fundamentalist, but the Messiah was a liberal! Ha!
Still, though they employed different methods, John and Yahshua were on the same team. From both mouths came the admonition, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Their message was exactly the same, but their methods were exactly different. And though their ministries complemented one another perfectly, neither Johnís fundamentalism nor Yahshuaí liberality would satisfy most folksí egocentric idea of what makes for a prophet. They said John was demonized; they said Yahshua was a party animal. Yet Father sends whom he will; anoints whom he will; places whom he will: be it a man, woman, liberalist, fundamentalist, moderate, perceived to be demon possessed or even a drunk -- itís Fatherís choice based on Fatherís judgment. His choices are impeccable (because he is the Almighty) and righteous (because he is holy). The prophetic gift is without repentance, and who are we to judge Fatherís servants? It is wisdom to realize that different shepherds may be endowed with different giftings and methods, but they are on the same team. No football game would ever be won if all nine players on the team were quarterbacks. Right?
"My Way or the Highway"
Yet the world and the church are replete with fullbacks who think they are quarterbacks. They want to run the show but they donít want to be a member of the team. Sometimes they donít want to run it, but they want it run their way, whether they tell anyone what their way is or not. "Itís my way or the highway!" some folks think but never quite say. Theyíre fourth grade song flute players. Sometimes they leave the church without saying a word because the preacher or the ladies group didnít dance to the tune they didnít even play. They become new pew quarterbacks at the church down the street.
Iíve been in church all my life and served ten congregations as pastor. Eight of these parishes were Methodist. You wouldnít believe the impostors Iíve encountered. Iíve seen witches and demons and lazy hypocrites sent in by the devil to scatter my flock; soemtimes, they succeeded. I know that people who seem right in church donít always turn out to be right, including pastors. There are some rotten pastors! You know that as well as I do! Yahshua said thereíd be tares among the wheat! So itís a fair question to ask, "How can we know? How can we know if Father sent this person or that person, this shepherd or that leader, into our congregation?"
How Can We Know the True Shepherd
Fortunately, Yahshua gives us a way to tell at the end of verse 19: "Wisdom is justified by her deeds." What does that mean? It means, letís examine somebodyís WORKS. Letís weigh the difference between someoneís blow and their show. What does the Disciple say about "faith without works"? Is he or she dancing to the Fatherís tune or their own tune? What has that shepherd accomplished? What good for Fatherís glory has that committee achieved? And how does the community of faith, the church, stack up as far as being a witness to the community?
Oneís accomplishment may sometimes be in spiritual realities rather than physical; the shepherd might be a Christian witness in the community yet as quiet as a mouse in the pew. However we care to look at it, a personís spiritual wisdom is demonstrated by what that person has accomplished for the Kingdom, and sometimes that kind of evidence is quite obvious. Some folks do a lot of good, and in the Fatherís name! Hallelujah!
Some Bible translations have verse 19 saying, "Wisdom is justified by her children." This is the correct translation. It means the same as, "you know a tree by its fruits" or "you know oneís anointing by her works." I was going to say, "you know a mother by her children." Then I realized that saying that might not go over too well. But itís like Langdon Garrison says, "You canít argue with results." Letís start with our own accomplishments for Fatherís Kingdom first; then we can honestly judge the accomplishments of others.
Consider Yahshua Again
Finally, consider Yahshua and John once again. In the eyes of the law and of law-abiding citizens, they were both religious fanatics, rabble-rousers and criminals on the order of someone like David Koresh, and were executed as such. For many centuries, an entire race of people judged them by their reputation as criminals rather than by their goodness. It is still so even today -- the whole world judges John and Yahshua and their household harshly for their crimes. The world still blames them for atrocities from the crusades to slavery to the religious wars in Europe. They must have done something wrong. In fact, itís what they didnít do that got them killed for you. The world piped and they wouldnít dance -- thatís what got them killed -- and killed for you! Itís not that they couldnít dance, you see, they could and they did. But when the children of the world piped their deafening harangue, they found that Yahshua and John were dancing already -- wildly dancing their short lives away to the quiet whisper of a tune played on the wind by the Heavenly Piper.