Posts Tagged: Young Pastors

Donkeys, Elephants, And A Lesson Learned at Chick-Fil-A

My wife Christina & I are now headed into our third presidential election season. I mention that because this presidential election season has been a complete contrast to the previous two presidential elections we’ve gone through together.

It has been peaceful!


Not because we are now both members of the same party, to be honest Christina won’t even tell me what party she is registered with, if any. Nor has she confirmed her vote in any of the previous elections. I always want to talk about whom I just voted for & my dear wife sits there silently, not taking any of the bait.

It is not because I no longer pay attention to politics. I still read the news articles and head to Real Clear Politics almost every single day to see the latest polls.

Nor because she is less involved, her involvment has always been zero ’till election time, so you can’t go much less than that.

No, the reason this election season is peaceful is because I’ve repented!

I’ve repented of all the years of my life I put politics ahead of the Gospel!

That is what I believe happens when Pastors, well really all Christians, enter the fray of the political dialogue to such a degree that they are willing to alienate another human being over a political conviction.

I learned this lesson again just recently, when I decided to visit a Chick-fil-a for the first time ever in my life. I went not based on a moral conviction regarding the issue at hand or due to my loyalty to any political party. I went simply because I was irritated with a politician I heard tell people not to frequent the business based on the owners particular point of view.

I posted a picture of my wife returning to our car with the caption “waiting in line for the first and probably last time at a Chick-Fil-a.”

By the time I got home, my Facebook was lit up with comments most supportive, but quite a number in angst over my decision to go to the Chick-Fil-a. My initial reaction was to get defensive and even mad at those that were so bothered…but then I stepped back and I agreed with the people that were mad at me, I was mad at me too!

I was not mad at myself for the same reason most of them were, but I was mad at myself for needlessly entering a battle that was a no-win situation as most battles fought through political means are!

This election season I had done so well at keeping my mouth shut. Not posting any opinions about the candidates. Not even pressing “like” on the political satire constantly being posted on Facebook. Christina had not had to tell me every Sabbath afternoon to stop talking politics (that is why it is peaceful now:)). I have not felt the need to throw under handed digs into my sermons against one party or another. I have not posted video clips of one candidate or another that clearly shows my endorsement, without ever actually endorsing anyone (since that would be illegal for me as a pastor). But now just like that, in just a moments time with one simple picture and post on Facebook, I was back in the thick of it and I had people in support and people in opposition going at it on my Facebook page. This was something I would have loved in years past, but that I now despise!

I despise, because Jesus deserves better than having one of His children putting politics ahead of the Gospel.

And that is exactly what we are doing whenever we choose to have an argument about politics, publically endorse a candidate, put a political placard in our front yard, or slap a bumper sticker onto our car that will alienate one group for the sake of rallying another.

During the 2010 Congressional Elections as I was becoming my usual heated self, ready and willing to have debates with both sides of the aisle and considering myself “oh such a balanced person”, Jesus convicted my heart. He asked me very clearly, “are you willing to sacrifice your ability to witness to someone for the joy of being right about a political candidate.”

My answer is NO!

The Salvation of all mankind Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, etc. is far more important to me than any position I have.

But when I choose to voicferously express my political views.

When I choose to post political digs on my twitter or facebook accounts against particular parties or individuals.

When I am willing to have an argument or even an intense discussion about politics…

In this politically polarized and politcally caustic society I am essentially choosing to say, “I care more about my views and what I want than being a witness to you.”

Thus, I care more about myself and my way of life than I do your eternal salvation!

I still enjoy & even care very much about what is happening in the political world. It is my hobby–but it is now a personal hobby, between me, myself, & I.

And I repent for the years I put politics ahead of the Gospel. The election of a candidate over the witness of Jesus. Me over you.

It is peaceful in our home this election season because Jesus is the only individual worth publically endorsing!


Bittersweet Moving

I have just learned that some dear friends and folk in our church are going to be moving from the area in the next 6 months.

I’ve known actually for some time that they were moving, but now that a house has been sold and a house has been bought reality sinks in!

This is bittersweet for me! As a friend I am extremely happy for them because they are moving to be close to kids and grandkids. But as a friend and also as a young pastor my heart aches! Since my arrival at The Visalia Seventh-day Adventist Church Chuck & Darlene have been true mentors & friends to me in my ministry.

Yes they are in their 70’s–But I feel like they have as much joy and enthusiasm for ministry and my ministry success as I ever have! Many, many a time I have enjoyed sitting at their feet soaking up their wisdom.

They have always encouraged me even when disagreeing and at times gently correcting me.

They have modeled for me an openness to the will of God in all things, even when that will may push them out of their comfort zone.

They have modeled for me unconditional support to the cause of our Lord through their weekly service to the church, their generous giving to their church, and their unendning love for the people in the church.

A church that has a Chuck and Darlene is far the richer for it.

I think of the young pastors that don’t have Chuck & Darlene in their congregation. I wonder what struggles they face and what challenges they fall to, because of not having the wisdom of years?

I dread to think of ministry here without them and pray for God to send someone in their stead!

As I think tonight about Chuck and Darlene I would give this word of advice to folk out there.

First to young pastors: If you have a Chuck or Darlene in your midst spend time with them. Learn from them, if they rebuke you in love, accept the rebuke. If they disagree with you find out why and see what steps you should have taken so you won’t repeat the mistake in the future. Include them in your leadership team (Darlene is one of my Elders & Chuck sits on our finance team). If they have been at that church for some time, Chuck and Darlene have been in Visalia for almost 40 years, ask them about the history and how things have moved and shook in the past. Most of all thank them as they encourage you and help you to grow as a pastor.

To the elderly in the church: Be gentle counselors to your pastors. Be appropriately critical, but not overly so. Encourage, encourage, encourage. Defend your pastor against the attacks of others in your generation who don’t like things simply because they are “new” and “different.” Embrace change and support your young pastor in that change. And most of all pray for your pastor and let him/her know you are doing so in love!

Chuck and Darlene I’ll miss y’all! If it wasn’t a sin I would covet the new young pastor you will be mentoring!

I love you both, thanks for making the Visalia SDA church and my ministry so rich by gracing us with your love!

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