Having planted and pastored Mountain Lake Church for eleven years, and having encountered hundreds of pastors and ministry leaders through churchplanters.com, I can make one indictment above all others against pastors: we violate the most important commandment the most: Love!
Most of us don't love well. We preach well. We lead well. We think and strategize well. We program well. We manage well (well, OK). However, most of us don't love well. I'm confessing my own sin here, by the way. Many times over the last eleven years, I have not always loved people in my church the way I should have. One of the neat things that's happened over the last year or so in my walk with the Lord is the fact that God is growing my love for the people in the flock He has given me.
Here are some signs of growth in my own life in terms of my love for the people that God has entrusted to me here at Mountain Lake:
- I enjoy being with people more. I truly love being with my small group. It;s not just a responsibility. I'm actually enjoying community! I am more fulfilled investing into smaller groups of people: My Advisory Team, My Finance Team, "Band of Brothers" and numerous one-on-one encounters. I've always DONE these things. However, these things probably fulfill me more than all the other stuff. I think this reveals that my love for people is growing!
- I cry with people more. I have noticed that when people hurt in my church these days, it hurts me more. I have been moved to tears by people's hurts in my church this past year, more than ever before, Hands down. Oh, I always cared. I just don"t know that I lived out: "bearing one another's burdens..." the way the New Testament teaches. I truly feel the burdens of my people more these days. I think that reveals the fact that I love them more!
- I pray for people more. To be honest, for a long time my prayers were consumed with me, my concerns, my ministry, and our church's (macro) concerns. Even though these still mark my prayer life, I have caught myself praying for the individual people in my church more. By name. Early. Throughout the day. I have caught myself praying as I drive through my neighborhood for individual families that live here and attend Mountain Lake. I'm not bragging. I'm confessing that it hasn't always been that way. It is now. I think this reveals that my love for people is growing.
Suffice to say, I am encouraged. I'm also reminded that spiritual growth is not marked by preaching, leading, strategizing, or managing the church's affairs. It's all about people; all about love!
My question for you, Pastors is:
Is your love for people growing? If not, you're not a maturing Christian!
More on this, in my NEXT post on this subject!
As I have been mentioning, I'm so passionate about this right now that I will be talking about this very subject at this year's churchplanters.com conference, Velocity, on Feb 21-22. Get here!