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Flawed Shepherds Despite their weaknesses, the men and women who lead you in your spiritual walk count it a privilege
BY LIEUTENANT ROBERT JEFFERY
his may shock you, but the man or woman leading your church is a flawed shepherd. That’s right, flawed to the core. I’ll tell you what I know about it and you can judge for yourself whether what I have to say is true. The man who preaches to you every Sunday, who exhorts you to live as Jesus did, sometimes lives in such a way that his actions don’t always match his words. The woman who confidently prays with you at the mercy seat often feels woefully inadequate to be your spiritual leader. The display of confidence that inspires you may at times be an act. The man who listens to you pour out your heart about family troubles has plenty of his own: wayward sons and daughters who don’t know the Lord; marital conflict; aging parents who demand his time and attention. His problems make him want to throw his hands up in the air and cry, “Enough!” The woman who encourages other women in her corps to grow in their faith is sometimes scared of these very same members of her flock. She’s afraid that she won’t measure up to their expectations or will be told, “Dear, that’s not how we
do things here.” She worries that if she’s not crafty enough, is a bad cook or can’t sing, that she’s somehow unworthy of her calling. The man who encourages you to get involved and take on leadership within the corps may have a hard time surrendering control, because when he empowers you to lead, he gives up some say in what that ministry looks like and how it is run.
Hold us accountable, pray for us and walk with us. Together we comprise the true body of Christ The man or woman who leads your church has a very fragile ego. A misplaced word or subtle criticism that is not done in love may be forgotten by you 10 seconds after it is said, but remembered by them for weeks to come. These flawed shepherds
experience many sleepless nights because of a thoughtless word or legitimate criticism that was stated badly. And yet … The man who preaches to you despite not always putting into practice what he preaches does so anyway with passion and conviction, knowing that he is following in the footsteps of Peter and Paul—both deeply flawed yet used by God to preach and teach his Word. So with great humility and much prayer, your corps officer preaches on. The woman who shakes in her shoes when she has been called by God to be a spiritual leader leads with confidence and certainty that “… he that began a good work in [her] will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6). The man who has family problems of his own will continue to help you with yours because he believes that “… all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). The woman who is scared of not meeting the expectations of her more difficult members will probably not meet them. Or if she does, the standard will be set higher and higher as such people are seldom easy to please. Yet, she will labour on, “… not trying to please people but God” (1 Thessalonians 2:4). The man who finds it hard to surrender control will, in the end, joyfully surrender it when he realizes that it is a stubborn spirit of pride within himself that says, “Hold on to this; don’t let it go.” He’d rather follow the words of Paul: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). The men and women who lead you in your spiritual walk despite their sins, easily bruised egos and flaws count it a privilege to grow with you in the ways of holiness. They are blessed to receive that text message, phone call, e-mail or conversation that says, “Pray with me.” And when they respond to the call, whether it’s a request to celebrate a joyous milestone or to sit with you in the depths of despair, they do so not in their own strength but in God’s. While this article is not necessarily autobiographical, it is an account of every officer and spiritual leader that God has called to shepherd his people. So hold us accountable, pray for us and walk with us. Together we comprise the true body of Christ. Lieutenant Robert Jeffery is the corps officer of Spryfield Community Church in Halifax. Married to Hannah, they have two children. Salvationist I March 2012 I 21