Monday, March 28, 2016

Pastor & Church - Jacob & Laban

While reading a disturbing blog on "StartChurch" re: "What Makes a Pastor Steal" I was also watching Pastor Steven Furtik (Elevation Church) as he was discussing Jacob working for Rachel and how sometimes in a person's life, you get caught up in all that you've sown and find yourself reaping a "Leah" several years later.

Now, of course we remember that Jacob loved Rachel: she was beautiful and he was willing to work 7 years for her.  And at the end of those 7 years it seemed but a few days because he loved her so much.  But when Laban made a feast for their wedding, he tricked Jacob and gave him Leah instead.  Leah however, the bible says, had "weak eyes".  Not only was she not a "looker" like Rachel but he didn't love her - Jacob despised her.  I'm sure she was difficult to love, because his heart had already been given over to the idea of being Rachel's husband.  So, Jacob agreed to work another 7 years to have Rachel for his wife as well, and after one week, he received Rachel to be his bride also.  But in those years and a few more after, Laban constantly changed Jacob's wages, withheld money from him, hindered his ability to provide for his own wives and denied his requests to take his wives and leave.

Suddenly, the two teachings that I was watching on TV and reading became one and I realized that Jacob (in this portion of his life regarding Rachel and Leah - Genesis 29), can easily represent the Pastor and his church.
Here's the revelation I believe came straight from God for us as pastors...
  • You see, we are Pastors who are working for the Bride... Jesus's bride - the Church.
  • And we do love the church enough to work for her - but only the church we think will be Rachel
  • Unfortunately, we are surprised to find we also have to take on the Leah Brides as well
  • Leah has weak eyes - who is not a strong Believer, or looks back to the world, or not as "good looking"
  • Working for our Rachel congregation is a breeze; but working with the Leahs is a struggle
  • And unfortunately, many of the Leahs bear bad fruit in the congregation while Rachel is barren
  • Then to top it off, many of our Church Boards or Church decision makers are like Laban to us
  • Laban deceives us and won't let us be in charge of or the leader of our own bride - the church
  • Laban often caters to the Leahs of the church and forces the pastor to "accept" her bad fruit
  • Laban also manipulates our wages, will not pay us fairly or takes advantage of our work
  • Laban also often has an entitlement or a superiority mentality towards the pastor
No wonder many Pastors continue to walk in the path of Jacob and end up manipulating Laban and stealing away the best of the flock until such a time as that pastor can escape with his brides and start over.  And, if we let the money be a sticking point in our years of work, then the finances become an idol in a pastor's life like Jacob and Rachel, and (whether innocently or maliciously) he can get caught with Laban's idol (or the church's money) among his own possessions!

Men like Laban cannot be reasoned with.  And usually, it is not discovered who they really are until after their deception.  The best way to deal with a Laban is to protect yourself in the beginning.  But often times, we are like Jacob - too excited about the possibilities to clarify the details at the start; or too intimate with the church to recognize the signs after the first clue of a possible problem.

So how does that translate to your church - especially if you already have a Board of Directors made up of nothing but Labans?  Use your gift of discernment to determine the true natures of your Board and your bride.  Identify who your Laban, Leah and Rachels are.  And be honest with yourself.  Do not let the lure of Rachel cause you to ignore and hate Leah and be in denial regarding your Labans. 

Then, put your wages in writing!  Protect yourself! Get your wages, their rate of increase and all other resources you need - such as mileage, housing allowance or reimbursement drafted into your Bylaws.  Also, include in the Bylaws how you will deal with the Labans on the Board and the ones who are not.  Also include how you will deal with Leah and Rachel as well as the actions you will take regarding the fruit they both will bear in the congregation.  Do not take for granted or be in denial about the benefits of your Bylaws!

Get smart.  Get it in writing.  Then... love them all.  Remember, they are family - dysfunctional or otherwise - they're yours and God has given YOU to them as a gift after HIS own heart (Jeremiah 3:15).  And, only the love of Christ will conform your church into the Bride of Christ - without spot or blemish.

In Power, Praise & Purpose - 
~Pastor D