My friend has been disqualified from ministry. His church deacons met and voted, at the insistence of parents in the congregation, to put him on the shelf. The pastor met with him and confronted him with the disqualifying findings. He sadly told my friend that while his passion for God was contagious and his vocal stand for his faith admirable, he would no longer be allowed to work with students.
Disqualified. Condemned. Thanks, but no thanks. Hit the road, Jack.
I think it broke the Father’s heart. But, I am sure it’s not my friend’s “disqualifying” action that causes pain to the heart of God. I think it is the process – airing the charges, debating his worth and value and then directing the pastor to deliver the news.
My friend sat stunned. What had he done to deserve this? He had two piercings to his left ear.
No infidelity. No abuse. No embezzlement. No crime committed. Just two simple piercings. The month before he was fully qualified to lead. Now, two needle holes later, he was removed.
The pastor was in a tough spot. Faced with angry, influential, regular tithers demanding that this leader be removed, he was left with a choice. He could either side with the sandal-footed, twenty-something with his spiked hair and suffer a potential hit to the bottom line. Or he could side with the parent, remove the pierced one and risk only having a few kids upset.
From a business stance, it looks like a no-brainer. But what about from a Kingdom stance? I suspect the damage was much more substantial to the Kingdom and has the potential of sending another set of teenagers away shaking their heads in disbelief once the true reasons for dismissal work their way down to them.
What would I do as a pastor and leader in the same situation? I believe that grace-based, godly leadership requires us to do the right thing even when it leaves us unpopular. I would see myself working with the dad to help him see that his judgemental attitude was more cultural and subjective than scriptural. It would take some patient but firm direction. If it turned to Levitical proof texting, contextual discussion would be in order.
If that brought about no change, I am confident that I would stand in defense of the pierced man even if it meant my being unpopular with a set of parents or board members. If he and his family were to threaten to leave the church, I would express my regret at hearing the news but be clear that our church would not be in the position of choosing one brother over another in the family of God. We will bear with one another in love.
Lastly, as a pastor and leader, I think I would lose some sleep over this conflict not because I would worry about the outcome but instead because I would question how well I had been equipping those in my flock to truly love one another and put one anothers needs above our own. I suspect some sermons about living as the family of God would be sure to follow.
My friend is pretty disenfranchised with the church of Jesus at the moment. He is very hurt and wondering if there truly is something wrong with him that makes him unacceptable to God. Intellectually he knows the truth but spiritually, his soul is wounded.
I’m thinking that the next time we meet I will buy him lunch at the food court in the mall. While we walk to the restaurants I may stop in at a store for a quick errand with him, without warning, and get my ear pierced with him standing by.
It’s just an ear.