Saturday, February 26, 2011

Expect the Best (of People)

Before reading below, please understand that, although we do deal with these issues from time to time, this post does not stem from anything that is currently taking place in my own church.

Maybe it's just because I am and for nearly all my life have been a pastor's kid (PK). Maybe it's simply because my parents taught me, through word and example, to defend the unity of the church at all costs. Maybe it's just because I'm just a trusting guy...

There are very few things I despise more than the idea that somebody is even suspicious that I've lied to them when I haven't. Partly because of that, I do my best to trust others, unless I have proof otherwise. People who are not trustworthy tend to be the first to be distrusting. I deeply desire others to have the confidence in me to trust me.

A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. (Proverbs 11:13)

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. (I Timothy 1:12)

Maybe, it's because my parents taught me what a New Testament church was really meant to be. A NT church is the bride of Christ, the body of Christ. God says he'll protect His church, and He commands us to do the same.

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. (John 17:21-23)

It's not a coincidence that I have continued to love the church since I was a teenager. My parents not only taught me to love the church, but they raise me in a church that I could love among people who loved me. The same church I grew up in is the church I now serve full-time. The same pastors who led me as a child now lead me as a 29 year old man, and I consider each of them a close friend. My pastors have taught me and the rest of my church by example what it means to protect the unity of our church. Nothing cripples the church more or more quickly than false or unproven accusations.

And, maybe it's because I grew up in a pastor's house. Many pastors have lost all credibility and reputation because of false accusations. To be a leader, especially a leader who is willing to speak the truth and ignore "political correctness", is to set oneself in the crosshairs of all sorts of accusations. My father has never shied away from the truth, and it's only by God's grace that he has weathered the storms brought about by those who hate the truth and hate him for it.

To accuse another believer of heresy or sin is a very, very serious thing. To accuse a pastor of heresy or sin is even more serious. The Bible is extremely clear about this...

Be sure never to charge anyone falsely with evil. Never sentence an innocent or blameless person to death, for I never declare a guilty person to be innocent. (Exodus 23:7)

Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. (I Timothy 5:19)

My parents did what they could to protect me and my sisters from the ugly side of full-time ministry, but I was still aware at a young age of how hard the life of a pastor can be. I've heard horror stories from other PKs about things their fathers went through, and although I am certain I don't know the half of it, I'm thankful my dad and our family was protected from much of what could have been. When I see other pastors (those I know, and those I might not know) being accused without proof, it hurts my heart because I know experientially the damage a false accusation of a pastor threaten to do.

Here's the bottom line. Expect the best of people, especially those who have proven to be of godly character. Whether it's your best friend, an "enemy" or the hottest televangelist. Even those who have suspicion clouding around them should be given the grace that God has extended to us.


As a footnote, if somebody has been proven to be a heretic, to be living in sin, etc., then yes, the Bible also speaks clearly about how to address those situations. I'd suggest reading Matthew 18 and Titus 3:10,11.


Anonymous said...

Wow !! I had on idea that there was a problem at NHC concerning this subject. I will defend any member of our NHC family until I am proven to be incorrect in what I know. There is a time for criticism, provided it is from the heart, will do good and is truthful.
My parents always taught me to keep my mouth unless it is for the good. Gossip is never for the good.

Rick Lawrenson said...

Wow Anonymous!
You made an assumption that he was writing about a problem at NHC. He was not, but writing about a pastor with a national following. (That would not be me!)

But...I have in the past(all of this many years ago) been accused of being a "liberal" and "not preaching the blood of Christ", and not being "evangelistic", and that I had lost "our spiritual compass". I was also told 17 years ago that I was destroying NHC.

Vicki said...

It's definitely something with which we all have to be vigilant. It is so detrimental to the glory of God to demonize each other out of our own hurt, selfishness, insecurity, whatever. It is so easy to turn negative. I too love the church, even though it has give me reason not to. Assume the best and then when proven wrong...forgive. One day, you'll want someone to assume the best about you, and then forgive when you prove them wrong. May I heed my own words and know it begins with me.

CFHusband said...


This post has nothing to do with anything taking place at NHC right now. But, I appreciate your comment and your commitment to unity!

Andy Lawrenson said...

I especially am disgusted by Christians using the blogosphere for cyber gossip. It's like that funny video on youtube of the dog attacking itself. The shameful part is it isn't funny because those who don't know Christ are watching the body of Christ turn on itself.
The bloggers/tweeters aren't even considering the scripture on how to handle the accusations that they have.
And unfortunately there are believers out there that will believe everything they read on the internet rather than going directly to the person that is being accused and gossiped about.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about calling someone a heretic. We must be very careful about doing that! There are lots of things that are unorthodox but not heretical.We must however make sure our pastors are getting the gospel right, if they are not we should distance ourselves. Some may feel conviction about that, maybe you should ask them why they feel heresy is being preached by this nationally known pastor (being open to understanding their side)Have you gone to them and asked being quick to listen and slow to speak?