During the ages of sixteen and twenty-three, I got to know two pastors rather well. One was a Pentecostal pastor; the other was a Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor. I would visit their homes and watch them during “off” hours, when they weren’t behind the pulpit. I got involved with various ministry programs in the church as well, and I watched them like a hawk in those settings.
Watching these men taught me something about the underbelly of the religious system. I intuitively picked up the inherent dualism that marks the modern clergy. These men were under tremendous pressure to always “be on” and to meet a certain expectation.
This troubled me quite a bit. But it didn’t appear to bother anyone else. The long of it is that I’m thankful for the eight years I spent in the traditional church. And I’m grateful for my time with those pastors. The reason is quite simple. There is no way that I could have written some of the books I’ve penned if I didn’t get a first-hand look at the religious system and understand some of its inner-workings.
This leads me to a valuable lesson. Namely, God sometimes leads His servants into arenas that He doesn’t endorse or approve. But He does it so that they may learn and be prepared for future ministry.
As I write these words, I can think of ten men that I know personally who left the professional ministry after concluding that it didn’t reflect God’s will. Yet all of these men felt “called” to enter into that ministry at one time.
Paul of Tarsus could speak with authority to his fellow Jews who were bound to the system of organized religion in his day because he himself was once a part of that system.
While I felt called of the Lord to work for Him at a young age, I never became part of the clergy. But I did get to work very closely with a number of clergymen, and I learned more than I wanted to know about the system that they served.
Please understand that I had respect for all the pastors in my life. Including the youth ministers who I came to know. That said, I want to pass on to you an observation I’ve made over the years. If you are one of those brave souls who has cut the cord on the traditional church and you now gather with Christians in a non-traditional setting, I think you will appreciate what I’m about to write.
One of the most effective ways to dismiss anyone who challenges the traditional church structure is to utter this one simple sentence: “This person was hurt by some pastor. They are bitter, and that’s why they’re challenging the status quo.”
Very effective, indeed. Except there’s one problem with it. To make that statement is to play God and judge the inner motives of a person’s heart. The last time I read the New Testament, Jesus Christ made a very chilling assessment about this practice En. (Matthew 7:1-4).