We all have a call to follow and want to hear clearly from God. This time of year in particular is flush with requests for resumes and recommendations. Perhaps it is because we are fast approaching the end of our school and church calendar year.
The United States has a dominant economy and is a powerhouse for exporting goods to other nations. What is America’s most significant export? Answers vary by time and criteria, but most experts point to products related to food or to petroleum. Across all categories, more than $2 trillion in goods and services are sold to foreign businesses each year. But I can’t help but wonder whether history will show that America’s most prominent export in this period of history was not goods or services at all, but a movement most commonly called the prosperity gospel. This movement is the subject of the book Blessed, a fascinating history of America’s prosperity gospel.
Recently, our church engaged in its first practice of church discipline. After several meetings with the unrepentant members, we brought the matter to the entire church for consideration. We moved slowly and allowed for questions and prayer before the official decision was rendered. With tears, anguish, and faith, the church unanimously voted to enact church discipline. Here are a few things I learned about our church through this months-long process.
Leaders can be wrong for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we believe, develop, and/or share wrong information. We may bend the truth to support our agenda. We may have genuinely misinterpreted data, trends, interactions, or experiences that lead to being wrong about the facts. Other times, leaders make wrong decisions. Every leader has this experience, and when we do, we shouldn’t deny the obvious. Everyone with a brain can see when our decision doesn’t produce the intended results.
I want to finish well (2 Tim. 4:6–7). Don’t we all? In fact, I’ve never met a church planter who didn’t.
But here’s the sobering reality: many of us won’t. In an age of immanence and immediacy, taking a long view of life and ministry is no easy task. Daily is our vision obscured by the demands of the present, the tyranny of the urgent, the cravings of the flesh, the noise of the world.
A favorite from the archives:
As much as this sort of hopeless spiral of self-examination is to be rejected, though, we should always be careful to remember that there is such a thing as healthy self-examination. After all, the Bible frequently encourages us to examine ourselves. But the purpose is not to get in touch with our innermost feelings, and discover what our inner child wants us to do and/or eat this afternoon, but to examine the state of our heart before our God. To grow in our knowledge and enjoyment of him as we better recognize where our hearts really are.