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    Flawed Shepherd

    Despite their weaknesses, the men and women who lead you in your spiritual walk count it a privilege to grow with you in the ways of holiness March 25, 2012 by Lieutenant Robert Jeffery
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought


    I need to share something that may shock you. The man or woman leading your church is a flawed shepherd. That's right; they are flawed to the core. I'll tell you what I know about it and you can judge for yourself whether what I have to say is true.

    The man who preaches to you every Sunday, who exhorts you to live as Jesus did, sometimes lives his life in such a way that his actions don't always match his words.

    The woman who prays with you so confidently at the Mercy Seat, often feels woefully inadequate to be your spiritual leader. The display of confidence that inspires you may at times be just an act.

    The man who listens to you pour out your heart about your family troubles, does himself have family troubles: wayward sons and daughters that don't know the Lord; marital problems; aging parents that demand his time and attention; family issues and baggage that makes him want to throw his hands up in the air and cry, "Enough!"

    The woman who so devotedly encourages the women in her corps to grow in their faith is sometimes scared of these very same members of her flock. Scared that she won't measure up to their expectations. Scared she'll be told, "Dear, that's not how we do things here." Scared that if she's not crafty enough, or can't cook, or can't sing, that she's somehow unworthy of her calling.

    The man who encourages you to get involved and take on leadership within the corps may sometimes have a hardtime letting go of authority and surrendering control. Because when he empowers you to lead, he gives up some say in what that ministry looks like and how it is run.

    The man or woman (or the man and woman) leading your church has a very fragile ego. A misplaced word or subtle criticism that is not done in love may be forgotten by you 10 seconds after it is said but it is remembered by them for many weeks to come. Many sleepless nights occur in the lives of these flawed shepherds because of a thoughtless word given, or because of a legitimate criticism that was stated badly.

    And yet…

    The man who preaches to you despite not always putting into practice what he preaches does so anyway with passion and conviction knowing that he is following in the footsteps of Peter and Paul—deeply flawed men yet men whom God used to preach and teach the Word of God. So with great humility and much prayer, he preaches on.

    The woman who shakes in her shoes when she has been called by God to be a spiritual leader, leads with confidence and certainty that "...he that began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Phil 1:6).

    The man who has family problems of his own will continue to help you with yours because he believes that "All things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).

    The woman who is scared to not meet the expectations of her more difficult members will probably not meet them. Or if she does, the standard will be set higher and higher as such people are seldom easy to please. Yet, she will labour on seeking to please "Not men ... but God” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

    The man who finds it hard to surrender control will in the end joyfully surrender it when he realizes that it is a stubborn spirit of pride within himself that says, "Hold on to this; don't let it go." He'd rather follow the words of Paul: "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).

    The men and women who lead you in your spiritual walk despite their sins, despite their easily bruised egos, despite their flaws, count it a privilege to grow with you in the ways of holiness. We count it a privilege to receive that text message, phone call, e-mail or conversation that says, "Pray with me." And when we respond to the call, whether it's a request to celebrate a joyous milestone or to sit with you in the depths of despair, we do so not in our own strength but in God's.

    While this piece is not necessarily autobiographical, it is a biographical account of every officer and every spiritual leader that God has called to shepherd his people. So hold us accountable; pray for us; walk with us—because together we comprise the true Body of Christ.

    Lieutenant Robert Jeffery is the corps officer of Spryfield Community Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Married to Hannah, they have two children.

    Comment

    On Wednesday, April 17, 2013, Linda Keats said:

    Thank you for the words of encouragement. As a soldier in our local church in Labrador City, NL I have held positions in our corps in the past always feeling unworthy. Today as I speak and try to encourage others I have questioned myself many times as there have been many struggles that others did not know about in my own life. My biggest desire has been to stay faithful to the God who saved me. I can say he has pulled me through many challenges and I am so grateful for the love that only He provides . He filled that void in my life 29 years ago and I am so glad I made that decision to live for Him even with all my faults. Thank you for your service and commitment to doing God's work and I pray for Salvation Army and all whos lives are committed to winning souls for the kingdom of God. GOD BLESS

    On Thursday, March 29, 2012, Jac said:

    Thanks Rob! This is a very important article.

    On Monday, March 26, 2012, Royal Senter said:

    It is because of these very weaknesses that officers, like every Christian, need the active support of other believers to provide encouragement, accountability and growth opportunities. Isolation is weakness. Officers are part of the body. They need each other, other pastors, members of the corps, other believers to uphold them as much as does everyone else. I encourage every officer to be an active part of a small group of some kind and to not be the leader. It may be at the corps or it may be with other pastors or even with believers of other congregations so that they can be ministered to and not always be the ones doing the ministry. It is hard for corps officers to do that but I really believe it is important.

    On Thursday, March 15, 2012, Phillip Blindenbach said:

    Rob,

    Thank you for your clear articulation of what may be going on inside for so many leaders. It is powerful to express our fears, concerns, worries or doubts for the purpose of standing in the Truth of God's Word and claiming our freedom from the things of this world (which sometimes, too strongly, may reside in our hearts & minds). We are not our fears! We are men and women called by God to lead & I thank God for the transformative power that equips us to move through our fears, concerns, worries or doubts and trust in our Holy God to shape us into the men & women that God knows us to be!

    On Tuesday, November 15, 2011, Monika Gillard said:

    Hey Rob,
    Well said! This is so true and reflects who we all are as officers (or officers to be). This is very important for our corps families to understand and for each of us to reflect on.

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