Posts Tagged ‘pastors

07
Feb
14

counselors, pastors, church and growing up in God

When I was about 30, Jeff and I saw a counselor. We’d been married ten years at that point, and I was just angry. Really angry. I was there to unload. But during that three-hour session, I had a great epiphany (more like a lightning bolt in a gentle God kind of way) about Matthew 18 concerning God’s forgiveness and my forgiveness toward others (specifically Jeff). I remember hearing the Holy Spirit speak to me then for the first time. I’m sure He had before; I just failed to recognize it as His voice. But once He spoke to me at that moment, my heart softened, and my eyes became like a faucet that no amount of tissue could stop. The problems in our marriage didn’t magically go away when I heard the Holy Spirit, but I learned at that point that God was really real and that He loved me very much. And that was enough.

Over the last twelve years, I’ve been learning to trust Him gradually more and more. And over the last five years, I feel like I’ve been in God’s laboratory, and He has done some serious damage to who I thought I was and who I thought He was. Not that I have to figure out who He is and put Him in some kind of “God-box,” but I know Him to be good, and I know Him to be kind and gentle, and I trust Him with my life and with the lives of the people around me. And that is enough.

I have gone to church my whole life with the exception of about 3 1/2 years, and those three plus years were where I actually grew the most. And God did this growing thing in me. He taught me Himself. I’m not ditching or slamming church here, nor am I advocating ditching or slamming church, but what I’m trying to say is “going to church” is not the key thing. Religion is not the key thing. Jesus is. Life has to be about this relationship with Him. So what does that look like?

A few years back, I came across this Scripture that changed me or at the very least my way of thinking about how God teaches us. I John 2:20, 27 says, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One and all of you have knowledge…The  anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as He has taught you, remain in Him.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a message preached about this passage. Does this mean that we don’t necessarily need someone explaining the Bible to us? Does this mean that the Holy Spirit can really teach us by Himself without the aid of the pastor? What if we taught that, promoted that? Would that empty the pews on Sunday? Would that mean we couldn’t support those buildings and budgets because we don’t need the pastor in the way we think we need the pastor? I’m not trying to be snarky here. Jeff just became a pastor, and part of our living depends on gifts given to the church.

But I’m not worried about our living; God has shown up more times than I could possibly count. Nor am I concerned with filling pews with people who are interested in just playing church and not actually “being the church.” Because what I want more than anything is for God’s people to grow up in Jesus, to be able to see God at work in their lives, to be able to read the Bible, God’s Truth, and for Him to set them free. And I don’t think that necessarily comes from hearing what a pastor has to say on Sunday. That might be a part it, but that is definitely not the whole picture.

What if we each learn how to hear what the Holy Spirit is teaching each one of us daily? What if we believe what James 1 says about asking God for wisdom and actually ask Him and see Him teach us Himself? That could be life-changing, church-changing, Kingdom-changing.

What if we begin to view the pastor as a shepherd who, like everyone else, is led by the chief Shepherd? He (the pastor, the little shepherd) is there to point people to Jesus and hopefully teach people how to see God and hear from the Holy Spirit themselves. The pastor’s sermons are important, but probably not as important as we think they are, or rely on them to be.

This is what the Bible says for pastors to be and do: “Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”  I Peter 5:2-3 It seems like it’s not what pastors say that is so important but rather how they walk it out with their families, friends, congregations. And isn’t that true of all of us?

One day I got irritated with Jeff about him not picking up his phone and meeting whatever demands I had at the time. I usually only call when I want or need something. But anyway, he was gone; I needed something, and he wasn’t answering. I was mad but picked up my Bible anyway and the Proverbs I read that day pretty much said this…Don’t pick stupid fights… I had to laugh out loud at myself and my little tantrum. I love how God does that for me. It’s like He’s saying to me, Are you really going to take yourself that seriously? Eyes off Jeff; eyes back on Me.

We just started a Bible study on the women of the Bible that I am super excited about, and I recently did our first Bible study on Eve. I’ve read those passages so many times. And for those of us who grew up in church, we almost know them by heart and sometimes we might even be tempted to think that they are boring, but the Holy Spirit still reveals Himself in the middle of those things if we’re willing to listen.

Now, when I began preparing for the Bible study, I ordered every book from the library I could get my hands on about the women of the Bible. But I have to say, they ended up in my closet because why would I go there for information and inspiration when I have God’s inspired Word sitting in front of me? Once again, other people’s opinions are great, and I’m really glad that they had the Holy Spirit teach them, but I want the Holy Spirit to teach me without their help, without my mind being clouded by their thoughts and feelings. So I dug in myself. Just me, my Bible, the Holy Spirit. And I learned some pretty amazing things as a result.

There’s so much that the Holy Spirit wants to teach you, to teach me. Something else might be your thing; but here’s my thing: Dig in just a little…say a prayer; read a verse; take a walk; sing out loud; show up; hang on and see if God shows up in a way you can hear. There’s not a formula, but you have to start somewhere and what do any of us have to lose? And the gain? I think I’ve just barely scratched the surface.

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