After settling into a new state in our new home this past summer, we found ourselves in the “Church Search Zone”—that dreaded journey for any Christian family. What’s funny is, most of the time, you know in about 10 minutes if a church even has a shot for you or not, but you have to sit there and be polite, even if its an easy out. You just have to smile and sing the song, pass the plate, pass the snakes, kiss the ring, whatever that church does.
But after a couple of months and visits here and there, I realized something new about where I am as a man of God, child of the King, and follower of Jesus. I needed to find a pastor/leader/shepherd/teacher/elder that I perceived to be stronger than I am. Emphasis on “perceived” because, obviously, how could only a handful of visits affirm that truth?
But I realized that I was evaluating on a much different level than ever before, after having actually been a pastor for nine years. I wasn’t looking for the slickest speaker, the guy with the biggest church growth chart, or who had the best-selling book. I was looking for a man that I could see was more passionate about Jesus than me, has a better handle on the Word than me, and has a more intimate relationship with the Father than myself. A man I knew I could follow—and would follow. A guy that, even if he’s just 6 months older than me, I want to “be like when I grow up.” If I sensed those things, I knew I had found a shepherd for my family. A pastor who wasn’t playing church, but playing for keeps, who didn’t need status quo, but needed Jehovah. Forgive me in advance, but kind of the Jack Bauer of the Pastor World . . . minus the guns and torture devices, of course, . . . okay, maybe the guns, but that same level of kick-butt passion for what you believe in.
Now let’s go inter-active with a very serious question: Who is your pastor? . . . Don’t give me the name of the guy at your church whose at the top of the staff list. Now, maybe that guy is really is your pastor, but I’m talking about the man that you would go to with a serious issue, call in a crisis, ask the tough questions of, have in your corner for a spiritual cage fight. That guy! Who is that man for you? Who you want to “be like when you grow up.”
I want to be clear that I have no intention here of bringing any negative light on pastors. I believe all of my pastor friends would fully agree with what I’m saying here.
So, if your answer to my question is: “Well, Robert, you’re right, it’s probably not the guy at the church, but I’m really not sure who I would call in a crisis.” If that’s your answer, you’ve got some praying to do, some searching to do. You need—you must—find that leader in your life. This may require some meeting, talking, that you aren’t accustomed to, even comfortable with. It might even mean you need to go to a different church. I have told a number of men, even someone I pastored, that there are times when we outgrow our church, our needs become different than the past, or we just need to be challenged in a different or deeper way. That’s okay. We’re in one Body. We are responsible for finding our place both to be ministered to and to minister.
Why am I asking you this question? Raising this uncomfortable dilemma? Because I see, talk to, hear about, read about far too many men who get into trouble of some kind and fall, miss, or die, simply because they had no plan for a crisis. No life emergency kit. We can’t plan when a crisis will occur, but we can sure plan what we will do when one comes.
So, who’s your pastor? When you have your answer, if you haven’t let him know yet, go tell that man right away. You need to tell him. He needs to know.
He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ. No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love. —Ephesians 4:11-16 MSG