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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Restored Pastor?

I've talked before about the dilemma of "fallen pastors" and the fact that their calling from God to lead in ministry is not revocable. This is true because if God's purpose in them truly was ministry in the first place --- then their sin would not change their purpose. So, how do you know if the someone is ready to re-engage as a pastor or ministry leader?

First of all, we must recognize that the goal of fallen individuals is not to get them well enough so that they can get on with the real business of the church. They are the real business of the church. But as someone's brokenness heals, his or her potential for leadership rises.

Knowing when a broken person is ready to lead can be difficult. Here are five (5) things I look for though. They are important measures of when someone is ready.

1. Are they honest with themselves? I can work with broken people who realize that they are broken. People who can't admit their sin though, make me nervous. To be honest, I am flat out convinced that God-honoring leaders must be adept at owning their brokenness.

2. Are they in community? If you're going to help people, you have to be in relationship with them. Otherwise you'll never convince them that you're just an ordinary guy working for an extraordinary God. Community is essential to biblical leadership. If a person can't build deep friendships that include accountability, he or she is not ready to lead in the church.

3. Are they willing to labor in obscurity? In the context of servant leadership, I don't think a person is ready to lead until he or she is willing to disappear. Are they willing to find their ministry fulfillment in unseen roles? Or are they only willing to be on stage in the spotlight. I once talked to a pastor about whether he was called to be the senior preacher - or the senior shepherd. There is an important difference. Few churches would have much use for a senior preacher.

4. Are they flexible? Leaders who are defensive, make excuses and lay blame on others make me nervous. Servant leaders never get to have things their own way, or even one specific way. They must accept what's around the next curve with as much grace as if they'd expected it all along. If they can't, they aren't ready to lead - because they are still trying to manage things themselves. Godly leaders are willing to do things God's way. Unfortunately, God is never very good about sharing much of the future with His chosen leaders!

5. Are they faithful in little? Jesus said, "If you've been faithful in little, then you will be made master of much." Readiness to lead in ministry is a process. It begins months or even years earlier when people are asked to do something little. Once they've been found faithful doing that, they are ready to move on to something more demanding. Eagerness to take on the invisible tasks is a sure sign of a ready leader.

If you're in ministry leadership, you don't have to fall to meet these qualifications. In fact, it would be darned good if you would meet them now! But if you have burned out in ministry leadership, get on your knees before God, humble yourself with someone who is trustworthy, and get to work on these five things. Once you master them and are known by them, God's call in your life, His anointing on you for ministry and your ordination as a leader are indeed irrevocable!

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