I love the local church. I love and see the value in denominations. I’m not opposed to godly debates, disagreements in theology and differences in ministry strategies – I think there’s a place for all that. However, I’m constantly reminded of a danger in ministry that far too many college and seminary students, even pastors, teachers, and Christian leaders give in to. Not only do they give in to it, but they give themselves over to it. (Ephesians 4:29) I would love to say that I think it’s only a young adult or young minister problem, but the truth is that it’s like a cancer that sees no age in how many people it influences.
What I’m talking about is simply this: There are FAR too many of us that settle for being bottom-dweller conversationalists who get caught up in chatter and gossip that is completely godless, corrupt, and straight up sinful. We pass judgment and are unforgiving. We pick people apart and discredit their ministry. We speak badly about people whom we don’t even fully understand.
God has just deeply convicted me to keep my involvement and interaction out of these kind of debates and conversations. I feel like it’s the natural topics of discussion – “Did you hear about…” “Can you believe that Pastor Whoever said…” “Did you know that Whatever Church is allowing…” It’s as if it’s the low-hanging fruit on the tree and, if we’re not careful, we’ll NEVER end up spending our effort and energy on the things God wants us to AND we’ll be training those coming behind us that this is how you behave as a minister of the Gospel.
I was at a state meeting a few years ago, and there were a few disagreements among some pastors and denominational leaders over how some decisions were handled. Before their meeting together, some of these seasoned pastors were discussing what they felt like the Lord wanted them to do in addressing the issues. In the midst of their conversation, one of them spoke up, really proud of himself and said, “Oh I’m ready for a fight! I can’t wait ‘til he walks in here and I let him have it.” And I literally took a step back and thought, “Not me Lord. I don’t want to be a shepherd like that.” And neither did several of these other pastors.
It just made me sit back and think, “Who wants to be pastored by somebody like that? Who wants a father who parents like that? Who wants to be led by vision like that?” Not me! And because I don’t want to be led by someone like that, I don’t want to lead like that either.
Understand, I’m not a “yes” man or a “please don’t rock the boat cause it’s going to get REALLY awkward in here” guy. I’m simply saying that there are truly VERY FEW things worth fighting for in this life. There are essentials of our faith that we’ve got to fight tooth and nail to uphold because Christ has called us to take a bold stance in some areas no matter what culture, churches, leaders, or families say. However, in my opinion, there are WAY too many of our conversations that revolve around “he said, she said” gossip and problems we have with this and that instead of focusing our efforts to redeem the time and reach people that are far from God, restoring families, and building each other up in the faith so that God gets MAXIMUM glory out of our lives.
So begin evaluating your thoughts and especially your conversations: What consumes your discussions with other pastors or denominational leaders? What do you sit around in your dorm rooms and talk about with your Christian friends? What do you and your seminary buddies talk about over coffee? Is it chatter or is it conversation led by the Holy Spirit?
You don’t have enough energy to both fight for things that don’t matter AND fight for things that do. Lay yourself out for what Christ tells you to lay yourself out for and let the chips fall in every other area. Don’t get caught up in thinking on and being consumed with discussing things that do not matter in eternity. It’s just empty chatter…and you absolutely do not have time for that if you want to follow Christ.