Pastoring with tact

A friend of mine read this article from my blog JOB… 5 – http://wp.me/p6rlMY-24 

You should check it out before proceeding. 

We had the following discussion shared with the friend’s permission. The identity and some personal facts have been altered to protect identity without losing the details of the discussion itself.

Enjoy.   


Q: Thank you for this piece on Job. Human nature remains the same…even today, among believers, people still think it’s your fault when calamity befalls you. They want to make sure that you know its your fault, then they want to ‘fix’ you with the word. To crown it all, they say they are speaking for God.

A: Granted, we often bring destruction upon ourselves by some bad choices but even when you’re walking the straight and narrow all the way to heaven, bad things will still happen to you because the Devil doesn’t like you. The word says “many are the afflictions of *the righteous* but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

Q: If we bring destruction on ourselves then our brethren are right to try to judge and straighten us out?

A: Yes, on such occasions. That’s what the scriptures say to do, “If you find a brother overtaken in a fault, ye that are strong, help him up, being careful yourselves lest you fall into the same error”

So, what I always do, is to ask questions first, and *help* the brother find his way through the situation.

Q: How do you help him?

A: It takes more time that way, but it gives me the opportunity to come along side the brother, identify with him, see his situation from his angle and once I’m in that place, I can *hear* God’s instructions on what to tell him. If I don’t have a specific rhema, I rely on the principles in the scriptures and just share them. Most times, folks come away better equipped to go through their time of difficulty or get back up *if* they fell.

Q: While you’re at it, do you ask the person to list their weaknesses and even add some from your own observations and put the person on a strict Bible study program? And tell the person, “if I was an unbeliever, I wouldn’t want to be a Christian when I look at your life”?

A: If need be, yes. It depends on what is needed. But, I get what you’re trying to say.

Rebuking a child of God is a valid function we owe each other as believers. Criticism is not the same as rebuke, however.

I may not use the words you have exemplified here but in the end, it’s the same thing we would have said but perhaps difference in approach will result in one person feeling helped and another feeling cut down.

I personally do not place people on a scripture diet but in my discussion with people, I will refer to the scriptures a lot to show the basis of my words and actions. And if I think the person is not aware of certain scriptural things, I can direct him to those scriptures to read and come back for further discussion as our relationship develops.

I have also been in a situation where I met a child of God who knew next to nothing in the scriptures but looked up to me. So I got him interested in studying the word but knowing the tendency for a beginner to stop if left to himself, I set up a schedule of feedback.

And it helped.

Q: I’m just wondering if that’s the best approach. Cos someone tried it with me after I told her I was very upset with my husband over something to do with his ex a few days before I lost my baby. I got so upset I shut it down.

A: OK. I see.

Well, I don’t know the context so I cannot say whether I agree or not but if the person is someone you have always known and trusted in times past, you should calm down and reconsider his comments.

Instructions can sound like obnoxious criticism when you’re already upset.

Q: No, she’s just a Church member who is much older than me, we work in the same department and I decided to tell her because she’s been watching out for the baby ever since she gave me the word she got from God.

Q: She said it was my fault I lost the baby cos God had given her a word for me that it will be well ever before I got pregnant, on and on, and started giving me daily assignments with deadlines. I told her I have thought about all she said and I already have a scripture I’m meditating on, but she wouldn’t have any of it and insisted I do her assignment and meet the deadline, that I’m very stubborn and proud and I should ask my pastors and they will confirm it. So I got annoyed and told her I’m not doing again.

A: Granted, you are a stubborn chick. Always have been, always will be …

Q: Sir?

A: … but the issue is not what she told you to do but perhaps how she told you and if there has ever been any such relationship based on “a word from the Lord” in the past.

Q: No, there hasn’t been any relationship, this is the one and only word from the Lord she has shared with me.

Q: I’m asking this because when I was in out of town for my masters, a sister in church got pregnant out of wedlock. She already KNEW that she had messed up, she didn’t need anyone to tell her that. But she felt God had abandoned her and wanted nothing more to do with her. So I got closer to her and just kept chipping in that God still loves her and the door is wide open for her to return to Him. Today she’s married to someone else and has more children … And she’s still in The Lord.

A: It’s quite common for one who bears a word of God to another to try troubleshooting when it looks like the word did not come to pass, just as we would if we prayed for a sick person to be healed and the person still died, or we asked God for something in prayer and it seems not to have been granted.
Quite naturally, we believe the fault is from the other person. We try to explain it one way or another but most times, however we explain it, we don’t find ourselves at fault; it must be the receiver’s fault for not receiving with Faith, or we blame God for it with statements like, “maybe it wasn’t his will”.

My thought is, why not ask him his will in the first place and pray for that.

Q: Very true. So how should we handle it when the word doesn’t seem to happen?
Many times when we go back to God after a failed word all we hear is silence, especially if the word is not directly for us.

So I’m wondering, is there a right way and a wrong way to go about this thing? Is the method more important than the results or is the result more important than the method?

A: My dear sister, the method is critical in the kingdom o. The end does not justify the means. There is God’s way and there is man’s way. However, I must state that God’s way doesn’t mean it will always be mushy mushy and cuddly cuddly. Sometimes, God will rebuke sharply too. Scriptures say God chastises us just as parents chastise the kids for love sake. Though they do it sometimes perhaps after their own interest but God is always after our highest good.

God’s way is not all rebuke either. Sometimes, he’ll cuddle and hug and all that. Whatever approach he chooses, the end is to restore the relationship to what it’s meant to be.

How do we know which method to choose? We don’t ever know. That’s why it’s imperative that we be led by the spirit of God because only they that are led by the spirit of God are the sons (manifest representation and representative of the intent and interest of the father, duly empowered to execute the father’s business in his stead and with results matching what the father would produce by his direct involvement so that considering results only, no clear distinction can be made between father and son) of God. [my paraphrase]

If he says rebuke, rebuke.
If he says encourage, encourage.
If he says nothing, you too say nothing.

Many of these mistakes can be avoided if we learn to admit and state as appropriate “I don’t know why this happened or I don’t understand what’s going on” rather than trying to always appear confident and “in the know” all the time.

Jesus warned, “If you had said you could not see, then you would have been given sight but because you insist that you do see, then your blindness (to which you are blind) remains. [my paraphrase]

Q: True

A: Sometimes too, people are on their journey to better things and so make rookie mistakes along the way. We are eager to be like the big names we know in Christian circles who have a reputation of hearing clearly from God and so are always spot on in terms of “a word from God” or any other matter which is a fallacy because we know in part and prophesy in part. The man of God who does not make mistakes is the only one who always, always, always, hear God clearly on every subject and does exactly as instructed.

Sadly, there is no such person, living or dead. At one point or another, we act out of selfish interest, or out of zeal for the Lord. But zeal *for* the Lord is not always zeal *of* the Lord and so we might do something in a bid to honour him but we did it without his say so and end up dishonouring him.

Q: Hmmmm, eez not easy to be a good man of God then🤔.

A: Ha ha ha ha ha
I think so too o. Which would explain the vastly overwhelming proportion of titled ministers who make the rest look bad, so much so that now mentioning a man of God in your discussion with many Christians nowadays turns them against you. Maybe it’s out of courtesy they haven’t said some nasty things about me to my face.

Then again, it’s my opinion that we generally commit “man of God abuse”.
If you look at Romans 12, you will see that their are differences in graces that we each are given and we are instructed to serve in that capacity and stick to that.

Rom 12:5 So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
Rom 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith;
Rom 12:7 Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
Rom 12:8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Not everyone has the grace to exhort (or encourage, advise or counsel) but we all get involved in it. Making mistakes in this area should be no more surprising to us than when someone who is not graced to be a prophet tries to prophecy or one not graced to be a teacher gets into teaching, and so on.

Taking the time to counsel people into the mind of God without damaging the person is something that pastors do with graced ease. A prophet is not interested in the condition of who is receiving it but in the authenticity of the message and the one giving it. An Evangelist has no time for sheep that are confused, only lost ones. You should expect a teacher to pour scriptures on you and even give you assignments but may not be able to walk you through your pain as relates to what he is teaching you.

If you look at it well, many of the people we call pastors are based on the offices they occupy in our church settings and denominations but not based on the role they play by divine enablement.

It is more common, in my view, to find pastors more popular with church members but less spectacular on the podium because most of the impact that they make is by connecting with people in the house outside church service time.

We usually consider others as being more powerful than the actual pastors are because those others have flair naturally incorporated into their service. I am not here insinuating that those ones are just into the show but it’s quite natural for us to respond that way to the authoritative and dramatic display of the power of God in church service that way.

You catch my drift?

Q: Yes I do.
But many times we don’t take the time to ask ourselves what is our ministry and ensure that we stick with it.

A: Yeah.

Q: Hmmmm… mentorship is another matter!

A: How do you mean?

Q: It takes the Grace of God to both be a good mentor and to find a patient Mentee.

A: 😆 Where in the world did this word called Mentee come from? Soon it will enter dictionaries.

As for your comment, I quite agree with you. Perhaps it’s even responsible for the creation of the word “Mentee” as an escape from the real deal which would be Protégé ( a person who is guided and supported by an older and more experienced or influential person
synonyms: pupil, student, trainee, apprentice) or disciple.

In these days of motivational themes of self realisation, who wants to be introduced as a pupil or disciple when you can be a boss of yourself with little or no training. Why stay in someone else’s shadow when you can take the stage and be celebrated right away?

We don’t want to sit still anymore. It seems to be washing out of our genetic make up generation after generation.
And I feel it’s unfortunate because there are things that are being lost to the human race rather than getting stronger with each passing generation.

My wife and I have met several people who perhaps heard us speak at a programme or something and they run to us and say they want us to be their mentors. Initially, we were excited at the prospect only to be disappointed by the vast majority because we found out that they were merely fans and not interested in being students cos when learning opportunities come, they either avoid us or are unwilling to do what we instruct them.

Q: Very true. I once told a Christian Brother who came to our area to start his ministry that he should find an Elijah whose hands he could wash, and at the right time, he would be given the mantle of a double portion. The guy got mad, I had to apologise to him. But till now, he hasn’t started his church.

A: 😕

Q: Sometimes I wonder whether it’s not the same God we are all working for.

A: There is also the harsh reality of the fear of being exploited which is becoming more and more rampant.

Q: The protégé is afraid of being exploited?

A: I think it’s an unfortunate vicious cycle.
Mr A doesn’t want to be mentored because he feels he has the skills needed to make it on his own only to discover down the line that it takes more than skills but he’s already a big shot so becoming a protégé all over again doesn’t look good so he hunts for people who have the skills to cover up his weaknesses and exploits them; Uses their raw untapped potential to further himself.

Of course, the students of Mr A discover what’s going on and take off with little or no training to start off on their own and the cycle continues.

My sister, the fear of exploitation is what always comes up once you mention Men of God, submission, seed sowing, even tithing. Our generation has an unhealthy dose of distrust and it affects everything we do.

Q: But who can blame them? The true shepherds are very few. The hirelings and the wolves are easier to come by.

A: The Labourers have ever been few.

Q: Thank God Jesus Christ is coming soon cos I don’t see this vicious cycle breaking anytime soon.

A: There are many parables Jesus told of the end time or his return that indicate he has always known these things would happen.
He’s not shocked, We are.
He knows what to do.

Q: True…we just need to have more faith.

A: Faith is key. But then, Jesus asked a serious question, “When the son of man returns, shall he find faith in the earth”
Faith in God is scarce now, and faith in fellow men is all but non-existent these days.

Q: Lol…faith in fellow men…never heard of that before
Always thought that my responsibility is to ensure that I can be trusted, never thought I had a responsibility to trust others.

A: Trust is a two way Street, dear sister.
Also, there is the trust that can be earned but before that can get a chance, there must be opportunities provided by the Trust that is freely given.
You have developed a level of trust in me over the years based on how I have conducted myself with you. That I have earned and perhaps deserve. But it would not have been possible if you did not open your heart to me at our first point of contact. That is a gift; I could never have earned that.
It is the chance you took on me that gave me the opportunity to earn more of your trust.

Q: True word👍🏼
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.

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