There may have never been an era where the modern protestant, evangelical church (though it’s hard to know what to label it these days) in it’s most obvious American expression, looks more like a corrupt institution that is more obviously influenced by hip, entrepreneurial business “ethics” than what it needs to be according to scripture. There are many great gatherings of Christ-followers all over the world- big, medium, little, underground, and mega-size, that are filled with richness, depth, and humble leadership. But my concern in this post is with the trend I’m too often seeing in some organizations. It’s sad to even see the downfall of great movements all because of a lack of humility, character and poise.
This is most obvious in the approach of leaders who desire to accomplish results through un-Christlike approaches of fear, control, guilt, force, threat, intimidation, bullying, and overwork. This type of approach certainly gleans temporary results. But we’re now beginning to see just the front end of many churches that will rise up to great heights and flame out, because they are so result, innovation, and productivity driven, that they replace the sweetness and gentleness of Christ with these things and begin to slowly drift away from His heart. There will be many churches that rise and fall in the next twenty years that appear to be the most impressive on the outside, but like an amazing mansion with an exterior of gold and rotting walls on the inside, these churches look the best on the surface but are inwardly rotting with many silent viruses- sickness of pride, stress, sin, burn-out and frenzy. It’s sad to see it happening. Never has there been a time more when “the meek” of whom Christ spoke of, are needed.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary talks about the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:5, which says “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”, and states:
III. The meek are happy (Matt. 5:5); Blessed are the meek. The meek are those who quietly submit themselves to God, to his word and to his rod, who follow his directions, and comply with his designs, and are gentle towards all men (Titus 3:2); who can bear provocation without being inflamed by it; are either silent, or return a soft answer; and who can show their displeasure when there is occasion for it, without being transported into any indecencies; who can be cool when others are hot; and in their patience keep possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of any thing else. They are the meek, who are rarely and hardly provoked, but quickly and easily pacified; and who would rather forgive twenty injuries than revenge one, having the rule of their own spirits.
If you’re a follower of Christ and find yourself as a pastor in a situation where there is provocation, anger, and impatience deeply embedded into the culture of the staff you work in- take courage and be gentle and loving. As a pastor friend of mine once reminded me; “The Lord will lift up your head if you bow it”. Be humble. Be meek when no one else is. It may be that the gentleness and love of Christ will act as a balm of healing towards the situation through you. If you’re becoming overwhelmed by the culture and unsure of what to do next, I highly recommend reading Ed Stetzer’s article here.