There have been few things that have pained me so greatly then how our church seems to consistently place greater value on its institutions and policies rather then on its people. Whether it is nationally, where we dispose of people, in order to preserve our policy making capacity, or at our educational level where we sacrifice opportunities for education and building people for having people fit into our predetermined boxes and preserving instructional structures. Or at a congregational level, were we leave so many pastors and lay people hurting . . .
I remember once, a pastor who I still deeply respect, telling me how he was replaceable, if he was gone, someone else would fill his place. Ahhh! No I say, for that man is not replaceable, but rather a gift from God.
What if we treated people like they were a unique gift, or if we followed the advise of the Apostle Paul to build up one another in love.
Imagine what a blessing it would be for the church if we focused on ensuring our pastors had the educational opportunities they needed so their gifts could flourish, no matter where they needed to go to realize this. Image if we made sure people ended up places where their gifts could be most fully used? What if we had adequate support for people, including reasonable expectations and ways of ensuring these reasonable expectations were respected?
What if we look for and found ways to support people in the gifts that they had, including having more specialized positions where people could focus on the unique gifts they had? What if we approached people as a gift from God, and treated them with the respect that this deserved.
Perhaps as you read this you think is this not what we do? Well some try, but when we look at the burn out rates not only of pastors but of dedicated lay people, or at our inability to attract new people to the ministry, or at how many pastors suffer from depression, failed marriages etc . . . perhaps this is something we need to look at again. For God gives us the gift of people, as the most precious resource that we are called to be stewards of. If we help these gifts flourish, then I am sure we will be amazed at what God will do through as a church.