As a leader your life is under the microscope. There are likely days when you feel your every move is watched, scrutinized and dissected. Grab your kids arm too firm in the mall, and if your luck is like mine, the people who saw it are the husband and wife who just visited my church Sunday with their 6 perfectly behaved kids, which they home-school. If this level of “being watched” is news to you, stop reading now and spend some time processing that little nugget.
After some time reflecting on the way your life is being watched maybe you need to do some repenting, maybe you need to do some praying. Maybe you need to simple DO something and for others maybe DO less. But in any case there is one common thread for all of us as leaders, and that is the reality that you are being watched and there is no way the view is always pretty.
Those areas of our life that we know, whether publically or privately, are out of whack with the heart of God are painful to address. His call to holiness and obedience is not lost on leaders, and I for one take that call seriously. Though after the obvious areas of sin and self, there is another and more complicated area of scrutiny to navigate.
I used to Golf. I know it’s so cliché, a pastor that plays golf…so I quit. But during my golfing years there was one element of the game that was true in every foursome on every course in every town. Unsolicited coaching.
And at the risk of being overly raw on a Monday, it’s always the same guy. If you’ve ever golfed, you know him well: He’s got the newest driver, best equipment, and, interestingly enough, is always “hitting 3” from the tee box. His swing is good, his equipment great, but you always seem to be partnered with him on the day he is, in his own words, “learning to hit the fade”. This means he shanks everything into the woods. Meanwhile your drives aren’t impressive, but at least you can find your ball.
To add insult to injury he wants to tell you what’s wrong with your swing and how you can get 50 more yards off the tee by doing this simple drill he will now demonstrate for you. Ugh.
The same is true in leadership, ministry and definitely church planting. It’s tough when momentum is gone and you hear all the voices telling you how to fix it. But in those cases there are clear tools. What about when things are solid and momentum is going well and people accuse you, your church, or your leaders of being sinful, irreverent or even just bad people?
Matthew 11:18-19 recalls these words of Jesus,
“For John the Baptist didn’t drink wine and he often fasted, and you say, ‘he’s demon possessed.’ And I, the Son of man, feast and drink, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of the worst sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by what results from it.”
So weather you’re hosting a Bible Study in a pub, Preaching on Good Sex, Handing out Shot Glass Church Invites, smoking cigars or playing poker. Heck, maybe you’re just preaching from the NLT. In any case, that guy in your church comes to you and questions “the wisdom” of such living. He diligently quotes scripture about not causing a brother to stumble, or being above reproach. He loves to remind you that you’re held to a higher standard as a leader, as if you don’t stay up at night with that heavy weight on your chest already. His claims sound at least a bit right, so in your best efforts you try to process. Assuming this might be the Holy Spirit whispering or a prophetic word, and maybe it is. But what if it’s not? What if you’re right where God wants you?
It’s hard, even as a mature leader (which I am assuming you are), not to respond to people under our leadership in the same way we would that guy on the Golf Course. Remember, though, just because that guy’s ball is in the trees, does not mean he can’t spot the problem with your swing and really want to help you drive that extra 50 yards.
Take it in.
Discuss with those you trust.
Consider a fast from that thing.
But at the end of the day, remember the whole verse from Matthew 11, “…wisdom is shown to be right by what results from it…” Take some inventory of the result of your “deemed questionable” living/leading/loving. There will always be someone in your church who thinks your hairstyle, speaking style, or favored Bible version are not good. Mostly because they are not “theirs”. So be ready to pick your hill, but just be sure it’s one you want to die on. Get back to value and ask yourself how does this serve our values.
And always ask yourself the most important question in all of this:
What is my legacy from today’s living?
As leaders we have been called to lead with all diligence. That means being in right relationship, but it also means pushing the comfort zones of those around us so that by all means the Gospel is heard by people far from God and church.