Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pastoral Leadership and Consistency

Consistency, sounds pretty boring doesn't it?  And, actually, many times it is.  However, when considering traits that should be present in pastors, and required elements for pastoral leadership, this is usually one of the most overlooked. 

There should be a consistency of character, a consistency of philosophy, a consistency of theology, a consistency of mission, a consistency in his walk, a consistency in his preparation, a consistency in his growth, a consistency in how he makes decisions, a consistency in how he deals with others, a consistency in how he communicates, and a consistency in how he expresses himself.  In other words, there needs to be a thread of consistency that permeates who he is, and therefore what he does.

Why is this important?  Because it gives stability to his church, and his ministry.  It gives security to his people, his staff, and the leadership he works with, as it make him reliable, and even predictable.  I once had an upper level manager tell me that his goal was to be so consistent that his people would know the answer before they asked him.  Not a bad trait, in fact, it is a great trait to have.

Think about the comfort and security it gives to those who you work with, do ministry with, and live with when they know they can depend on what they know about you.  Think about the frustration that is caused by having to deal with those whom you never know how they will react, or those who always seem to be changing their mind, ministry direction, or ministry philosophy. 

Have you ever noticed how consistent the Lord is?  We call it immutability or unchangeableness; but have you ever wondered what it would be like to serve a Lord that you were never sure how He was going to react, how He wanted to be worshiped, what His standards for holiness would be, or what His requirements for salvation would be? Would it be a little unnerving, kind of like an eternal insecurity instead of an eternal security?

I take great comfort that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, yes and forever (Hebrews 13:8); that He, the Lord, does not change His mind, and therefore I am not consumed (Malachi 3:6); that with Him there is no variation or change like the imperceptible shifting of a shadow (James 1:7); that even from eternity He is I am (Isaiah 43:13), that of old He founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of His hands.  Even they will perish, but He will endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing He will change them and they will be changed.  But He is the same, and His years will not come to an end (Psalm 102:25-27); that His lovingkindness is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him (Psalm 103:17); that He has one eternal purpose that runs through the ages that is carried out in Christ (Ephesians 3:11), and that He has declared the end from the beginning, saying, "My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure" (Isaiah 46:10).  This consistency in the character of God and the acts of God give me security in my relationship with him, it gives me confidence in my relationship with Him, and it strengthens and solidifies my trust in Him.

You see, I believe that as pastors, as spiritual leaders, we must be consistent; and it is us being like the Lord that gives us that consistency. If He is consistent, then we must aspire to be consistent as He is consistent.  The same comfort, confidence, security, solidity, and trust that we draw from our relationship with the Lord because of His consistency is the same comfort, confidence, security, solidity, and trust that our people, staff, and leadership should have in their relationship with us.  Consistency provides the stability that is needed in every leader, and is a key component of pastoral leadership.  Let's aspire to be more like our Lord in this area.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

God's Immutability-The Anchor of My Relationship with Him

For I, the Lord, do not change; 
therefore you, O sons of Israel
are not consumed.
Malachi 3:6 

If you read any book or article on the attributes of God you will find Him described as immutable, and usually they will go on to talk about the unchangableness of His nature and character.  However, the word has a deeper meaning than just being unchangeable, it means that in being unchangeable, one is not capable or susceptible to change.  When you grasp that concept, then considering God's immutability takes on a whole new light.

This means that it is impossible for God to change, impossible for God to be other than He is. There is never the potentiality of His changing in any way, in any measure (James 1:17). His mercy will always be His mercy, His wrath will always be His wrath, His grace will always be His grace, His power will always be His power.  There will never be any diminishment in who He is, because there cannot be any diminishment in who He is; and He cannot be more than He is, He cannot be improved upon, because He is already perfect.  When God tells us that from age to age He is the same, we must understand that from eternity past to eternity future it is impossible for Him to not be the same.  Change in His person, purpose, thoughts, and very nature literally cannot take place.  He is the rock that does not erode, the fortress and refuge that is always secure, the love that will never fail. Therefore, His yes is always yes, and His no is always no; and, therefore, His word never changes or shifts, even ever so slightly.  He is the model of absolute consistency.  He is the same God in the Old Testament as He is in the New Testament.

To me, this is very comforting.  It gives me a deeper trust and confidence in not only Him, but in His word.  It is this unchangeableness that is behind the Scriptures. It is why the Word of God cannot and will not change to meet the demands of the shifting moral climate of each era of the human race.  All of this means that He is absolutely dependable, reliable, and trustworthy.  It means there will be a consistency in His dealings with me, a consistency in His love for me, and a consistency in His patience with me no matter the twists and turns that I encounter in this life.  It is the anchor in my relationship with Him.

So, my friends, let us consider the absolute unchangeableness of this God who has called us and claimed us, who has loved us and blessed us, and who leads us in the paths of righteousness. Let us draw near and draw great comfort in knowing it is impossible for Him to change.