Wednesday, August 13, 2014
From time to time some folks have criticized me, and perhaps rightfully so, because to them, I come across as being too soft and too nice. The truth is, I haven’t always been like this. When I started out in the ministry there were no gray areas in my way of thinking; it was all black and white. Believe me, I stepped on a lot of toes in my time and I sadly suspect that I pushed some away from the gospel instead of drawing them in. I even remember picking up a fellow employee by the collar because he was making fun of my testimony for Jesus. My thirty five years in the Postal Service taught me many things. One of the things I learned was that the “its my way or the highway” type supervisors that I had throughout my long career, weren’t necessarily the ones that got the most out of their employees. When they were around, all the workers were like busy beavers. Once they were gone, most of them would either slack off or goof off altogether. I found that to be partially true in the church ministry as well. I learned that the church did much better when I focused more on encouraging our members than on driving them or pushing them like ranchers do their cattle. I learned that the Lord’s flock is comprised of sheep which thrive when they are led and diligently attended to, not pushed.
I recently heard a Hall of Fame baseball player talk about the day his coach called him into his office to tell him privately that he felt that, of all the players on the team, he was the one who would really make a name for himself one day. He said it was a big turning point in his life and was probably the reason that he totally devoted himself to become the player that he did. Many years later, and after he was already in the Baseball Hall of Fame, he found out that the manager had called all his players in one by one and told them the same thing. I got the impression that he was still bitter about it. I wish I had paid better attention when I heard the interview because now I don’t know who that player is and I can’t look into this story a little deeper. I can understand his getting upset about it at the onset, but I hope he now is grateful to his old coach for it, for look where those uplifting words got him.
When we are led by God’s Spirit it isn’t hard to find ways to encourage the people we love or those under our care. That doesn’t mean we can’t correct them when necessary, but even when we do we’ve got to do it God’s way. Name calling and scolding will seldom produce good results. That is one reason Paul wrote: “Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” Galatians 6:1 (New Living Translation) Besides, if we let the Lord lead us, we’ll know when we have to be sof tand when we have to be hard.
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 10:14, NLT) But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?