Tag Archives: church leadership

Walls and Wolves

Nehemiah 3-5; with the people ready to build, not just with words but put to work the words they spoke, we find that there is a tremendous amount of damage. Every gate is identified and the people who will have the responsibility to “shoulder” the work. There is a saying – better together. We can accomplish so much more together than on our own. That statement is true regardless of the size of a church or organization. Something that must be clearly identified and communicated is the specific responsibilities of each entity involved. I have learned from my pastoral ministry years, you can’t over communicate. Invariably there will be some who have felt left out or didn’t get the message. Nehemiah brings both a renewal spirit and the necessary leadership to the project. The purpose has been established “eliminate the reproach” and it would be done through rebuilding the walls. The walls were part of Solomon’s Temple mount project then, and likewise now by the exiles.

Walls serve two purposes – one is the security of the people inside the walls; but also to keep out the unwanted whether animals or people from coming in. During this time in history and for much longer, fortresses and castles had protective walls to be able to defend the people and property from intruders. Jesus also talks about limiting “intruders” into the camp in John 10. Jesus talks about how that the sheep and shepherd have a unique relationship. No one who comes over the Wall is a friend. No one who leaves the sheep when they are in danger is a True Shepherd, but a hireling. Pastors have to protect the sheep as well as provide for the sustenance.

In ministry there will always be the critics and naysayers. We find that the inhabitants of the area at the prompting of Sanballat ridicule the work being done. Laughing and trying to demoralize the people. There are those that work, those that watch and those that ridicule the work being done. It comes with the territory – Keep building. There are three questions the critics ask – each one begins with “Can they . . . ”  Sanballat even has solicited the “money holders” on his side to bring doubt to the work. I have built buildings and have had church members ridicule the building project to the point that many wanted to quit because of the doubt cast on the project; keep building.

What does Nehemiah do? He prays to the Father in Heaven to shut the mouths of the critics and not forgive their sins. Wow, is that spiritual? God was in the work, too many times we give audience to knuckleheads – people  are people and we do not have to be compassionate to blatant sin!

The people had a “Mind to work” and so the building process continued for 52 days. The words didn’t deter the work, so then Nehemiah instituted a guard watch while building continued. Many of the critics and tactics of Satan are “mind games” used to discourage and frustrate the work of God. Dear for their lives, the people came together and defended each other, but the work continued. Brick in one hand and sword in another. The enemy is real, we must take proper precautions against the “wiles of the devil.”

Nehemiah is an encourager and a cheerleader. The pastor and people both need to be encouraged during the work. So intense was the work that the men didn’t stop to change clothes.  But each rotated from building and defending the work and each other.

In church life and revitalization work, there will be enemies against the restoration of the devastation of souls and spirit. Keep building.

While the walls were being built, there were wolves in the camp. The Jews were extracting usury from their own people. They were mortgaging their property and even selling their children into slavery so they could pay taxes inflicted on them by their own leaders. Wolves – hirelings, leaders out for the money not the ministry. Be careful while building the walls of defense that you don’t trap wolves inside!  Nehemiah addressed the injustices against the people. Nobles and affluent people did not identify with the people doing the work. Ministers must be careful not to see the congregation as the means for their own success and opulence, but brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God. Nehemiah addressed the elephant in the room – then provided the example for the nobles to follow. Nehemiah dug deep into his own pocket and paid for the provisions and food needed by the workers.

Wolves abound today; they come seeking to rob, kill and destroy the church and the sheep. Nehemiah does something of leadership that many pastors and minister must do – if there is a known problem, address it, deal with it and move on. DO not let the problem ferment into a conflict and catastrophe.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2018 Poetry

Timothy My Son!

1 Timothy 1-5; the beginning of what has been called “the Pastoral Epistles.” Paul the Apostle and missionary is writing to his Son in the faith – Timothy. Timothy joined Paul’s missionary cadre in Acts 16. His mother is a Jew and his father a Greek. We know that Timothy was well taught the Gospel by his grandmother [Lois] and his mother [Eunice], Paul took Timothy in as the two became like father and son. Paul has left Young Timothy at Ephesus. The Church at Ephesus was a strong established church. It must have had an older contingents of congregational people, for there was a problem of Timothy’s youth. [1 Tim 4:12] So as we look at this church we actually find that it is a tough church to pastor. It is a second generation believers church; yes there were charter members still alive; but the original “core” was passing away. They could remember the glorious things that had been done in the establishing of the work in Ephesus. In Fact they could boast of Apostle Paul as the church planter, the beloved Timothy as the first pastor, then having the Patriarch John the Beloved Apostle and Jesus’ own mother part of the church. What a grand heritage! Yet we find in Revelation 2, that Ephesus had grown into a very orthodox church, looked good, believed all the right things, but they had lost their passion and first love. Imagine a church with all the things 1st Baptist Church Ephesus had going for it; yet it had lost its love for Christ.  I see Ephesus as a church that needed revitalization. It had been hot after the things of God, but was languishing in what HAD been done rather than what COULD be done. Now place a young 30 something pastor in that midst, and can you see the problems he had to face. “We have never done it that way before, that now the way we do things here.”  I am convinced that the church environment at Ephesus caused ulcers for Timothy. I am sure he tried to pastor and resolve conflict, but all this was taking its toll on him. “No longer drink just water, drink some wine for your stomach.” [1 Tim 5:23] Wine would be a stomach soother for the gastric acids of stress and worry.

These pastoral epistles have become of most importance for preachers and church ministers. How to deal with church people and problems. Often the established church is a buzz-saw for young fresh seminarians. Often they last less than 18 months, having been chewed up and spit out by staunch resistant congregations.

Paul must have been familiar with timothy’s struggles and writes to advice him on many church dynamics. It is clear that young Timothy is a called man of God. He has been discipled  by his family and Paul. Timothy having escorted Paul of his 2nd and 3rd missionary trips was intimately aware of ministry pitfalls. It is one thing to move from place to place starting churches, quite another being in one place for an extended time. Revivalist can get away with saying things that the home pastor would never even consider speaking.

In these first chapters we find a sort of laundry list of items that an established church must put in place for the organizational structure. First is the necessity of an Elder/Pastor/Bishop. In various denominations these are all still the same person, so I will use the name Pastor to identify this leadership position. The Second is the establishment of deacons. We have seen that Paul placed, overseers at the churches, and the necessity in Acts 6 for deacons to do service to the people. The character traits of both are almost exact. The leadership must have an “above reproach” personal life both in and outside the church.

Inf one was to look at Chapter 2: 9-15; you would think that Paul was sexist and against women. He said the same thing to the Corinthians. Obviously there must have been a similar problem. Paul spends chapter four is describing how women are to be in the church, and what services should include. In Chapter 5, the care or relief of widows is clearly outlined as far as who and what that ministry should look like.

Paul the “spiritual father” is instructing his son in pastoral ministry. In closing this week, Paul knew that Timothy could not do the work alone; he had to have help. chapter 1:18, invest in like-minded men who can take up the good fight with you. This enables Timothy to gain some much need relief, but also creates a legacy of passing on the Gospel. Oh Pastor listen today to the sage advice of an Elder statesmen of the Gospel – you can’t do it alone!

Leave a comment

Filed under 15 in '15