Sinking Ship or
By Shannon Parish
The story is the same. A pastor and
his wife, filled with visions of promise and impacting
the world, set out to change their city by building a
church. With hearts filled with hope, they invest all
they have emotionally, physically and mentally into
People come and
yes, people go. They discuss among themselves what the
problem might be, that people are not staying as long as
they wish they would. Eventually a few faithful
families come along side and the pastor mentally rubs
his hands together and says, “Okay – now we’re getting
some where. Let’s build a church!”
programs come and go. People still come and go.
Suddenly, for what seems without cause, an elder begins
to question methods. People get frustrated and strife
rumbles through the ranks – setting the congregation on
Finances dry up
as people, shaken by gossip and overturning leadership,
withhold their tithes and offerings. The pastor and his
wife brace their hearts and try to calm the rising
voices of fear and doubt from the naysayers and “Chicken
“The sky is
falling! The sky is falling!” “This ship is going down!”
Voices proclaim as friends and church members exit the
building. Panic and accusations fly and in hopeless
desperation the pastor and his wife throw up their hands
and cry out to God. “Why us?” “We haven’t done anything
to deserve this!” “We can’t do what God has called us to
do without so much fighting and bitterness.”
nod and offer their sage advice, “You must be doing
something right, or else the enemy wouldn’t be fighting
you so hard.”
So the pastor
and his wife hang on longer until financial ruin and
public humiliation rip apart their lives. The children
suffer and the marriage relationship falls apart. The
church is closed and people nod their heads and say,
“See, I told you it was going down.” I guess the enemy
won. Where was God in all of this?
BEFORE it gets to far,
take a second look at the trial you are going through.
We have a choice to become bitter or better. THIS is
spiritual warfare. The battleground is in your mind and
heart. Its not from flaky people, exhausted and
withdrawn spouses. Its not the demons in power over
your city. Take responsibility for your ministry.
Rather than react – act. This means making carefully
planned, well thought out choices to reclaim what has
been lost through inexperience or misunderstandings.
division and gossip in the church is normal behavior
from normal human beings; human beings with a plethora
of life experiences, belief systems, religious beliefs
What is it that
makes us, as pastors, think that just because we have a
vision from God that our ministry experience is going to
be a piece of cake?
Clement, Liaison Pastor and Bishop of the Harvester
Network, said something that has rung in my ears ever
since I heard him speak. He said that we get very
excited and rejoice when new people enter our church,
and cry when they leave. We are thrilled that our
numbers are growing and that additional finances will
enter the church. We see new workers and new friends.
When they leave,
we grieve and often see betrayal and abandonment.
Exiting members struggle a great deal with what people
will say, they make up stories and excuses for their
leaving because they feel condemned and feel themselves
as though they are betraying their friends.
Even though some
of these emotions are normal, (no one likes to see
friends move on) Dr. Clement challenged us that perhaps
we had the whole thing backwards.
We should weep
and cry when they enter our church and rejoice and
celebrate when they leave. Why weep and cry? Because
we do not know what pain they are bringing with them.
We do not know what these people will need and what they
have been through. We can only assume. When they
leave, we should rejoice. Why? Because if they were
difficult and troublesome – that they aren’t there any
more! And if they grew and healed and were strengthened
because of our ministry – rejoice that they are now well
enough to be on their way.
Maybe not. Maybe its just a ship that needs to be
heard. A great leader will know his or her followers.
This leader will know not only their name but what their
perceptions are and how they communicate. They will
know their weaknesses and their strengths. Wise leaders
do not fear surrounding themselves with people who are
more educated or wiser than they. They look for people
that are greater. Why? Because they do not doubt their
call or the position that they are in. They know their
own heart and motives and their mission is not one of
competition and self glory, but of ministering the Good
News of Jesus Christ.
A leader is not
afraid of strong emotions. He is wise to know that
emotions are there for a reason, and its usually because
a person is feels that they are not being heard. He
will listen carefully and ask probing questions, making
sure to clarify the criticism in order to discern if it
is an opinion or a real concern that must be dealt
A wise leader
will first do this with his leadership. He will be open
and honest with them, listening, clarifying and
seriously considering wise counsel and possible
changes. When people know how much you care, they will
care about how much you know.
building programs, outreach programs and anything else
that is getting in the way of communicating properly
with the people God has entrusted to your care. Once
people are validated, heard and celebrated, they will
pull together in supernatural ways to accomplish what
God has put in your heart to achieve.
Ps 35:1-28 / Ps
36:1-37:4 / Gal 5:12-6:10 / Matt 5:44-48 / Jer 15:19-21
/ 2 Cor 6:1-7:2 / 2 Tim 2:24-3:7 / Phil 2:1-5 / Eph
4:26-32 / Romans 8:31-39 / Duet. 31:6 / Joshua 1:5 /
Hebrews 13:6 / Romans 12:17-21
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A Cartoonist, Graphic Facilitator and Creative Life
Coach, Shannon Parish devotes her life
to encouraging those who are fed up with the 'status-quo' and are determined
and pursue their purpose and destiny in life through one-on-one mentoring,
facilitated workshops and retreats.
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rights reserved, Shannon Parish, Living Stones Center.
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