I have discovered that it is so much easier to be a Pharisee than a disciple. You can probably relate, but many of you would never admit it (that was tongue and cheek, don’t get mad). You see, a Pharisee makes rules and then expects everyone to abide by them. A disciple hears the rules of the Master, lives by them and encourages others to live by them. They encourage others to “follow me as I follow Christ”. The difference seems to be how we approach people.
We like to beat folks into submission sometimes, don’t we? We have some standards and ideas, and most of them are good. The problem is the way I see them being handled. We set expectations and then provide punishment when they are not met. Every company and organization in the world does this, and sometimes we as the church follow suit. We even do it with our kids. At least I do it with my kids. In the process of fostering, I have become keenly aware of how easy it is to make rules and punish and not reward and encourage.
The problem is what human nature becomes. What is your reaction when you work with or for someone who is never happy and always points out where you screw up? You either get to be jaded or you begin to do the bare minimum. You do what you can to survive in an unhappy environment. Work become tedious, your joy is gone and often begin to shut down. Have you ever experienced it? I suspect that many of the people in our churches experience that. They are told they are not doing enough, not working hard enough, not loving Jesus enough, not at church enough and not devoted enough. Sometimes a pastor doesn’t want anyone else to do anything in case they screwed it up. Obviously the people won’t get real excited about serving in that church.
It’s harder in the church, because we have no real authority, just spiritual influence. I have heard pastor’s refer to themselves as “The Lord’s Anointed” as a way of trying to get some influence and some power. Unfortunately, the position of Messiah has already been taken, and people still leave the church. People have to be motivated to serve, not threatened or guilted. We can remove them from whatever position they have, but they can just go to another church and take a leadership position there. We can’t strong arm people into things.
We gotta figure out how to be more like Jesus. I have to figure out how to be more like Jesus with the people in my church, with my family, my friends. I can’t just level expectations at them, just expect them to do what I think they should do. I am not their master, Jesus is their master. Of course I want the church to fun and function like it should. Of course I want people to do the things they said they would do, to serve and to follow, but I’m not the master. I’m a sheep and I must follow the Shepherd. The funny thing about sheep is that one or two begin to follow, more and more begin to follow. We have to be lead followers and not leaders. We are not the head, Jesus is the head. Maybe it’s time we become the feet?