The whole world looks like wood to me.
Oh, I hear the snickers… the put-downs, the wisecracks. And you know what? I don’t care. They can laugh all they want. What good are their opinions anyway? Splinters in their eyes… every one of them. What chance do they have of seeing me clearly anyway? They’re nuts. They’ve got splinters everywhere.
“Can I show you something?”
“You see this mirror, here?”
“What are you talking about… that two-by-four?”
“You mean… this… two by four?”
“Where do you get that? And where did that mirror come from?”
“This board was IN your eye. See, it’s got a few of your eyelashes on it.”
“Well, what happened to all the stuff that was in your eye?”
“There wasn’t any… you were looking at this board.”
And everything falls apart. All my life I’ve been complaining with the best of them: “The Church is full of hypocrites!” Some of us complainers simply got fed up and left. Others were like me, and decided that the Church didn’t have to be full of hypocrites… those aren’t the real Christians anyway. So if we start a new church with real Christians, bingo. Hypocrite-free.
But now I’m holding this two-by-four in my hands. And I realize that, when I left the old crowd to start fresh, I inadvertently brought one hypocrite with me. And standing in front of the mirror now, it’s all too obvious.
Donald Miller is famous for saying, in his book Blue Like Jazz, that “I am the problem.” After spending numerous months gaining a reputation as a socially conscious activist and political protester, he realized that he should rather be protesting himself, holding up a cardboard sign emblazoned with those four self-incriminating words.
Roger Moran, the man indirectly responsible for sending hundreds of new readers to my blog last week, is guilty of blind antogonism and divisiveness within the Body of Christ. He pulled out his rhetorical claws, and went for the jugular.
He attacked with error. I, in turn, retaliated with accuracy. But it was not Truth. The Truth of Christ cannot be couched in retaliation, defensiveness and pride.
I was talking with my dad (a fellow pastor and fellow church-planter) last weekend about what it means to be a pastor. It dawned on me that, although God calls certain individuals to be pastors, he does not promise us extra righteousness, and he certainly does not expect us to find it on our own. And honestly, even a pastor who is paid full-time to do nothing but study, preach, pray, and shepherd his people has no real hope for a superior holiness. Yet that is what we have come to expect from our spiritual leaders. To be a cut above… a little lower than the angels, and a little higher than the bourgeoisie.
But not only is such a notion silly, it is reckless. Isn’t it obvious that pastors feel this pressure building up, this performance anxiety to be a poster-child of godliness?
In the end, I decided that all we have is humility. All we have is repentance, accountability, brokenness. We cannot be superior, nor should we strive to. There will always be lay people more surrendered than us, more prayerful than us, more obedient than us. And there will always be grievous mistakes in our lives, straining to be confessed. It is not until we give up our pride of position and let them out that we can welcome authenticity into our lives. Perfection awaits us in the by-and-by. Let’s embrace vulnerability and authenticity in the here-and-now.
Every church should have a perfect leader. We just have to let the Perfect Leader lead.