Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of God that leads to eternal life—Jude 21
Some of you know that I have the privilege of serving on the Church Planting Committee of the Nashville Presbytery. One of the main responsibilities of this committee is to identify and support church planters for specific church plants throughout the middle Tennessee area. The engine of the Church Planting Committee’s work is the Nashville Church Planting Network (NCPN), which is a monthly gathering where peer coaching, kingdom praying, and church planter training is conducted. It is often one of the highlights of my month.
At this month’s meeting, Josiah Bancroft from World Harvest Mission joined us to discuss how to strengthen the church by planting from weakness. His message was counterintuitive and timely, and I want to share with you one small nugget from our time with him.
Speaking to pastors and planters but relevant to all Christians, he said, “Present faith in Christ means more than showing the result of faith; it means modeling the way of faith.” Those words struck me to the heart, because I’m guilty of revealing to others the fruit of faith in my life, while failing to allow others to enter the bumpy road of faith with me. The way of faith is where real life happens—the sinful, ugly, doubting life. I’d often just as soon keep that part hidden. While the result of faith is the moment the sky clears, blessing arrives, and hope returns. I’m way more comfortable with that side of life being open to public view. But then it hit me—that’s not faith in Christ at all. That’s pride!
As I was confessing my sin on the drive home from the meeting, the Lord began to share with me the negative effect my pride is having on you—God’s people. I realized that if I’m only revealing the fruit of faith (the growth or “success”) and simply talk from a distance about the struggle of faith; I would always have a tendency to make myself look like some spiritual hero, which is far, far from the truth. In short, I realized that I wanted respect at the expense of the truth about myself, and that was not the way of the gospel. Further, I realized with much sadness that if I ministered from this place, that you would not be really pastored. That sort of “ministry” (if it can be called that at all) leaves others thinking, “Man, he’s really got it together,” which is spiritually defeating and dishonest and points no one to Christ—the One from whom true strength and hope comes.
I want to repent of this sin in my life to you personally, for I know that this sin has negatively affected my ability to love and serve you as pastor. I hope you will join with me in prayer as I seek by grace to die to this tendency and live more consistently in the way of grace. Indeed, I want to invite you into my path of faith as I seek with you for the fruit of faith in Christ Jesus.