Friday, June 09, 2006

Playing God: The Role of the False Friend Leader

I have some unbelievably gracious, and faithful friends. Why is it that there are still moments of dark consideration, lonely observation, and struggle? I suppose that it is the result of treachery.

I am not a sad man naturally. Well, at least that has not been the case for the last 25 years. I had a stint of severe sadness in my late teens, and early twenties, but those days are long gone. Now I move into the melancholy as if being drawn there by the recent past of lies, and coverup which have been perpetrated against me.

Yet, this melancholy causes me to think, and hopefully draws me into wisdom as well. I recall a song I heard sung many years ago (and oh how I wish I could find it again!), which had the gracious words "I walked a mile with sorrow, and sorrow walked with me." It went on to speak of the wisdom gained in the seasons of sorrow.

So, what have I learned now?

I remember that I have taught for years that fellowship is a discipline of the Christian life. Fellowship can not happen without friendship being in the equation, and so I also am reminded that friends are people who have disciplined their lives to consider others first.

Jesus said these words, "You are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you." Jesus words seem so harsh and self serving.

Hearing these words I would be left feeling as though friendship with Jesus was very one sided, if I did not parse this phrase properly.

First, he says, "You are my friends...." He does not say, "I am your friend...." He is our friend. So much so that He gave His life for us, but we are not necessarily His friend, because often I give very little consideration of Him.

Second, He says, "...if you do whatsoever I command you." That is the really tough part of this statement. Yet remembering that He only does what is good for me, and that He is God incarnate, I also understand that my obedience is trust in His infallibility. Trust is a necessary element of friendship.

Does this mean then I must obey my friends on earth in the same manner? Must I fully comply in all obedience to my friends in ministry without questioning them, and especially if they are in ecclesiastical leadership over me?

My answer is no. Any church leader who expects to be obeyed without being questioned, and bases his treatment of you on whether you silently obey his every whim is playing God, and is a sick individual in need of long term counseling. Leaders above all people need to be approachable, and open for correction when they are in error. Should their judgments be askew, or their behavior unethical they need to be willing to discuss the issue, and make corrections, and amends where necessary.

A leader who expects to receive the same level of unquestioned obedience given to God is nothing but a self serving ego-maniac, and can not truly develop friendships in ministry. I am convinced that this kind of control freak does not know what a friend is. Even God is gracious enough to handle our struggling questions, and so I know that He is my Friend.

Pastors must learn to be friends. It is in our job definition. If we can not handle being challenged, we can not be friends to challenging people, and we can not model the friendship of God. At best we can merely play God, and get ourselves in a heap of trouble.


Agent B said...

What? You just gonna up and quit now? I'm hooked.

Pastor Phil said...

I've returned from mental hiatus.

Agent B said...

Thanks. Thought you might be getting us addicted...then jacking up the price.