Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sometimes You're the "Bad Guy"

I had some trouble today finding what I wanted to talk about. I was rather busy with other schoolwork, and with a particular situation with a bible study I lead. A young gentlemen from this group had asked if he could lead the discussion for the next meeting, and I was happy to let him. Although, because of my responsibilities as a leader, I asked that he could send me an overview of his lesson, just so I'd get a better idea of what he was saying. I ask this of anyone in my groups who hopes to lead a discussion, just a formality to ensure that the group is not led astray. I had never had a problem with this, before today. When this young man sent me a summary of what he'd be teaching on, not only was it a rather obscure and unimportant topic, but he claimed some complete myths. So, I did the hard thing: I told him that he could not teach the lesson. I haven't heard back from him, and he didn't show up to the meeting. As I considered all of this, I occurred to me that it'd be a great blog post. Christian leaders have to be the "bad guys" sometimes in order to protect the people God's given to them.  

Why do they need to be protected? Well, can I let you in on a secret? The church isn't perfect. We have debates, we get petty, we get selfish, and we do stupid things. Don't get me wrong; the church is a beautiful thing. A group of screwed up people all being made less screwed up by a perfect God, and then sharing that God with the rest of the world.  The problem is, we do still have those issues, and someone has to deal with them. Enter: the leader. The leader acts as the mediator, a teacher, and when necessary, the protector of the people from danger.

Paul, writing to a young leader Timothy, charges him to "Proclaim the message, persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching" (2 Timothy 4:2 HCSB). The idea of rebuking, correcting, and encouraging form the three ways that a leader goes about resolving these conflicts within churches.

On occasion, I work with the kindergarden age kids at my church. Generally, these are nice kids, but sometimes, there aren't enough firetrucks to go around, and a disagreement starts. When one child is being selfish and refusing to share their toy, in my best attempt at a loving manner, I tell the little boy or girl that he or she needs to share, and that being selfish is wrong. Though Webster would define it as "to criticize sharply", to rebuke in the context of the Christian community is focused on locating sin or a major spiritual or physical health issue, and pleading with an individual to change. Practically, it means telling one's porn addicted Christian friend that what they're doing isn't right, and they cannot keep living in sin. The leader’s rebuke must be motivated by love for the health of the Christian.  

Correction is different from rebuking in a less than obvious way. While rebuke requires someone to turn away from an action and turn to something else, correction is about the way that action takes place. A young man who was a part of a bible study I led was passionate about sharing the news about Jesus, but didn't always do it gracefully. He had a habit of using "Christianese," which led to some confusion with the non-Christian people he was talking to. I brought this up to him, and offered a suggestion on how to communicate the gospel using everyday language. He certainly wasn't doing anything wrong, but there was a better way to do what he was doing.

Sometimes overlooked, encouragement is universally understood by Christians and non-Christians alike. When a leader is encouraging, they are focused on building up the good that someone is doing, and calling attention to the gifts and abilities that the individual has. My pastor is constantly encouraging me in the work that I'm doing, both in my musical giftings, and in the leadership I have been given. A leader cannot forget to encourage alongside of correction and rebuking. Our job is not to tear the individual down, rather it's to lead them to the fullness of the future that God has for them.

So, what's with the "bad guy" talk in the beginning? Because sometimes, people aren't open to rebuke, or correction, or even encouragement. Like I shared before, the people who go to church aren't perfect, and some become extremely unhealthy to the rest of the group. Much like a teacher would kick out a problem causing student, Church leaders sometimes have to kick out problem causing people. I don't like it. I hate conflict and the idea of not including someone. Thankfully, the issue with the gentlemen today probably won't come to that. However, sometimes, a leader needs to step in the authority given them by God to protect the people from danger. Being a leader isn’t always a glorious job, and sometimes, it means hurting people’s feelings. How wonderful it is to know that God brings healing to hurt people.


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  2. Mark Driscoll talks about wolves in the Church and how they can destroy the flock:

    Weak leaders who refuse to be the 'Bad Guys' compromise the Gospel and it's principles by supporting consciously disobedient lifestyles - gay rights, abortion, and divorce among others - these 'leaders' are wolves in the flock of Christ, giving advice and consent that destroys relationships, marriages, and entire families, preying on the weak and distraught, leading others astray and telling people what they want to hear rather then the Truth of the Gospel(1). (2 Tim 4:3)

    As a result, too many 'leaders' in the church are unwilling to discipline their flock in favor of modern social convention and they refuse to stand up for what is right and Biblical rather than say 'No! You're wrong and you should repent of your sin or leave the church until you do'

    You did well by taking your stand, I wish more Pastors, Elders and lay leaders would.

    (1)The website is the worst of the wolves, IMO.

  3. Colin, you a very talented and insightful young man. I pray that God continues to reward and bless and inspire you. You keep on writing.

    And, Chris, my website is actually, and I welcome any who wish to visit and consider the biblical basis for my position on abuse - and divorce.

    Cindy Burrell, Owner and Author

    1. Cindy,

      Your ministry is one that denigrates all men as 'abusers until proven otherwise' without a clinically proven basis for the accusation of emotional abuse nor the means to refute the claim in any substantial way then, concerning divorce, it says in true California fashion 'if it feels good, you can do it' and strongly advocates that women not seek marital reconciliation in *any* way.

      Divorce and abandonment of a marriage is never the answer because if Christ can literally raise the dead, He can raise a marriage back to life and no one who truly believes in the Word should try to refute that position.

      In short, your ministry is one run by wolves to prey on marriages and families that could saved by a truly mutual commitment to Biblical principles and counseling.

      That you have actually made money doing so makes your ministry no better than Joel Olsteen, Benny Hinn, or Bob Larson; it's Satanic.

      I don't expect you to agree since, as Mark Driscoll points out, Wolves will never admit to what they are.

  4. I am really intrigued by this post. I would like to see more background on the content of the potential student-leader's topics for the night. I also wonder what denomination of Christianity your group partakes? (That would give some contextuality to the discussion.) As you know, there are hundreds of different denominations and belief systems right within Christianity, and the stories (or myths) are different.

    I also wonder: could there have been a learning experience to have been had for the gentleman to have taught his understanding and for the group to discuss, together, his ideas? What if the thoughts this person had were not isolated to himself? What if others in the group share his views? Who gets to determine what is myth and what is "reality" of events that happened 2000 years ago? Certainly, each church does, right? So I want to know more about your specific belief system and what he believed and how that diverged.

    I think this is a mystery that deserves a part 2!

    1. Well, in a general sense, he was suggesting that the earth was hollow and that in this hollow earth are the spirits of the dead who live awaiting judgement, he seemed to believe that these spirits get bodies, and suffer down there. That's on the lower level of the hollow earth, on the upper level of the hollow earth is a paradise for certain people, though apparently it's not heaven.
      Generally the bible teaches that immediately after death, everyone is brought to judgement before God, and that hell is not a physical place beneath the earth, but rather a spiritual place of torment. Also, the paradise which he referenced was not a reference to a physical place beneath the earth, but Heaven.
      While I would agree that it's possible that good might have come from this being discussed, I honestly believe it's more possible that there would not have been fruitful or productive for the group, even if this notion of a hollow earth were true.

    2. Julie, I was going to add also. There are certain things in the Bible open to interpretation, like whether women should wear pants or cut their hair, but there are other things like salvation, grace, repentance that are clearly defined from Genesis to Revelation. There is a need for gentleness but correction has to happen. God brought a bunch of plagues on Egypt to correct them and numerous times had Israel defeated or taken into captivity for correction. Leaders have to have a discerning spirit, gentleness and willingness to take stands when needed.

    3. Julie, I was thinking about this more and though I think the reason Colin made the decision that he did was valid and discussion in the group would not have been the correct thing. Putting that aside, a blog on leadership, leaders do have to be the bad guy sometime; the parent who says homework before computer time, the leader of a girl scout troop who chooses not to go camping on a certain weekend. Leaders being leaders have to make tough decisions somtimes and even when not intending to hurt feeling or cause stress will be viewed as as the "bad guy".