“One of These”
Jesus says in Matthew 18:6; “if anyone causes one of these little ones-who believe in me, to stumble it would be better for him to have a large millstone tied around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (NIV) Harsh words from the savior of the world, but words that we should heed. Paul writes to us; “do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jew, Greek or Church of God” (1 Cor 10:32 NIV). Paul also gives instruction for leaders to be “Above reproach” (1 Tim. 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-10). So far this series has been ways to lead effectively, but we can’t lead affectively if we don’t talk on the harder subjects too.
Some of you might be aware that recently the Presbyterian Church passed an ordinance that said that pastors were permitted to live with whoever they want, be in whatever relationship they wanted and do whatever they wanted outside of church. This of course comes on the heels of the announcement the church would be ordaining openly gay pastors. This promotion of sexual immorality by the church has caused the denomination nothing but trouble, as leaders pull out so do churches. Meanwhile the chaos continues as at a recent meeting on the Ohio Presbytery the song “Red Solo Cup” was used to replace worship music.
As leaders we are called to teach the next generation, but what does this generation learn from us? That sexual immorality, living with a woman you aren’t married to, gay marriage, pedophilia, and so on are okay. We’re teaching them that the world’s version of a drinking song is better than worship music, we are teaching them that it’s okay to contradict scripture. As a result the church is shrinking, churches are dying, and more and more youth turn to the world because the Christians around them don’t live like Christians and leaders don’t preach Christ. They stumble, we get accolades, they fall, we make money. Should Jesus words in Matthew 18 be echoing loudly in our ears? Yes!
But this is what happens when you remove scripture from leadership. This is why in last year’s series I emphasized the word of God. Because if we know the word of God and apply it to our lives daily then we will do our best not to stumble ourselves and our chances of causing others to stumble decrease. Now, I stumble, I’m not a perfect man, as a leader I will admit that, but dear friends we need to know the word of God if we are going to lead. We need to learn to live lives in daily surrender so that when the people you are ministering too and your team sees you live they won’t stumble.
Paul exhorts us; “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vein conceit, rather in humility value others above yourselves. Not looking to your own interests but to the interests of others” (Phl. 2:3-4). If we are causing others to stumble are we looking to others interests? Probably not, we are probably looking to our own.
Now look, I’m not saying that those who practice alternative lifestyles, what I’m saying is this; If you practice an alternative lifestyle it may be better for your congregation to keep it to yourself or to not practice because of those who may be opposed to it. You may even want to do some series bible study on the issue. This doesn’t go only for pastors and leaders of alternative lifestyles, it goes for all. If you’re addicted to Pornography, step out of leadership and take care of the problem. If you know you have a problem then deal with it with the help of two or three trusted advisors your own age. If you are an alcoholic who doesn’t know he has a problem then step down from leadership, but if you know getting drunk is wrong then work on the problem quietly. You may want to tell your leadership team these things so that they can help you and guide you through by the Holy Spirit. Don’t be like the man who refuses to deal with his issues, and blames everyone else, this will only split your congregation and get a lot of people hurt.
Do your best to not cause others to stumble, it’s not the end of the world if you do but it can be hard for others to regain trust or to med bridges. Instead love God and love people, love the commands of the Lord and keep them in your heart and always live your life in such a way to bring Glory and Honor to Christ.