It has become a monthly expectation that church leaders are embroiled in sexual, financial and other forms of scandal. Because of this, so many people have decided to worship at Bedside Baptist using these incidences as an excuse to forgo traditional fellowship. This is a mistake.
Admittedly, well, I guess the better term would be full disclosure, I am not a regular church goer. Since I’ve moved to Florida I haven’t found the right fit for my family. Still, I participate in bible study with local women who all attend various churches. I still get my fellowship and prayer partners—essentially, some accountability until I find a church home.
Recently, Juan McFarland, the pastor of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, admitted to drug use, misuse of church funds and having sex with members of the church. To make matters worse, McFarland was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and has had full blown AIDS since 2008. Of course, the members of the church are in an uproar.
As much as we’ve bought into the ideal that pastors are human and will fail, we must also hold them accountable for their actions—as well as ourselves. This post will not be about bashing church leaders, but placing ourselves as much accountable to ourselves, our families, our church communities and to our God. When this happens, we are all responsible whether we admit it or not. Yes, I said it. We have to be responsible for ourselves.
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors – Guard Your Heart
I grew up in the country and almost everyone had some sort of fence on their property. The fences didn’t necessarily mean “keep out” to the passerby. The fences were simply an indicator of boundaries—this belongs to the Johnson family, you are welcome to stop by and visit on our terms but know that this is valuable enough to us to keep it safe. In a world that has gotten away from etiquette and chasteness, we live as if everything and everyone is a free for all. Not so.
One of my favorite poems is Mending Wall by Robert Frost. In the poem, the neighbor says “Good fences make good neighbors.” In today’s society, we look at fences as being a bad thing. Like the narrator in Mending Wall, we have grown to believe that the presences of a wall is that you are “walling in” or “walling out” something negative. In so many ways it is true but there are positives that can be walled in or out.
Keeping the right perspective about the nature of your relationships require walls. You shouldn’t enter into suggestive conversation with married men or women. It will keep you out of scandal and encourage that married person to focus on home. You shouldn’t leave it up to the church to raise your children—be active in their lives so people who would use them will know that this child’s mom and dad doesn’t play. It will protect them from those who would use them.
I know that because it is our nature to want walls gone, we have the tendency to let them fall when we should continually shore them up.
Do What is Right, Even When What’s Wrong Feels Good – Guard Your Heart
Face it. We’ve all been there—you know feeling so bad about your situation that you couldn’t care less about how another person feels. You’re lonely. You need company and companionship so you accept the advances of someone else’s husband or wife. Or, you decide that sleeping with the pastor is okay because his wife thinks she’s better than everyone. You’ll show her. Besides, he came on to you; you didn’t make the first move. I wonder if the people who slept and partied with Pastor McFarland or Pastor Craig Lamar Davis felt this way?
Not to be preachy, but we are talking about church, I compel you to live by the words of Matthew 22:39, “Thou shalt love your neighbor as thyself.” When Jesus spoke these words as the second greatest commandment, he knew something that we often fail to admit. As humans we are awfully selfish so we would never hurt ourselves intentionally. If I love my neighbor or fellow human as much as I love me, I will go out of my way to treat them right. Instead of hopping into bed with someone else’s husband I’d think about how it will affect the wife and kids of this other person. And, in church I’d think about how it would impact my ability and the church’s ability to fulfill The Great Commission. So, I’d probably skip sleeping with the pastor or another woman’s husband simply because I care about them. I love them like I love me.
Hold One Another Accountable – Guard Your Heart, And, You’re Friend’s Heart
See. Speak. Hear. No Evil. But, if you do … tell.
One of the biggest problems in the church is that we call out everyone else’s sins except our own. As members of a church, you must be vocal about what happens and does not happen.
I saw something on Facebook a while ago that alluded to a lay person not being able to correct a minister because they don’t have the authority. Church is about accountability and if leadership is corrupt or appears to be corrupt expose it. I’m not advocating that you go public or make false accusations. However, if you see Pastor Joe with his hands up Sister Felecia’s skirt, you might want to go to him and/or the Board of Trustees/Elders. If you have questions on how to do this, read Matthew 18. *NOTE: Some people in leadership can be dangerous, proceed with caution and care.
It is not always easy to do what is right. But, if more of us stand up for what we believe and hold one another accountable to our actions, the church would be better received by the world.
>>>>>>>>>>Shameless Plug <<<<<<<<<<
My novel, First Family Secrets, covers how the secret lives of pastors can destroy families and congregations. At the end of the day, God is not after what looks good on the outside but the condition of a person’s heart. If you haven’t read First Family Secrets, consider purchasing a copy here. If you are a blogger, reviewer or book club representative and would like a copy for review or for a give-a-away, please email me at info [@] DGPRwire.com and I will forward you a copy.