Keeping to Yourself
I’m a part of a few private groups on Facebook consisting of ministers who’ve been wounded by other ministers and those who would assume to be power-brokers in the church. I joined because I thought it would be good to be a part of a group of fellow laborers, but I’ve come to relish my membership in such groups because I too have been wounded by other ministers. I write publicly and have shared thoughts on passages and issues only to be indirectly accosted, and my views scrutinized and shared thus resulting in being unjustly branded. Among a group where one might expect a greater sense of the attitude of Jesus, there has been more of Pharisaical nit-picking and lack of grace.
This isn’t at all to suggest that all ministers are this way because I am friends with a decent number of ministers who wouldn’t look for the worst in my writings as an opportunity to bolster their own knowledge and pontificate their soundness. Nevertheless, those with whom I’m close, and on friendly relations, I remain as such, but have as of lately adopted a personal policy of just keeping to myself. I don’t attend lectureships, luncheons, or other such gatherings. It isn’t that I don’t need them, it’s just that I’d rather read books, listen to podcasts, and stick to my close circle and derive the edification I need from them. I’ve even decided to not accept any speaking appointments in 2019 at other congregations other than those I’ve already committed to so that I can just have a reprieve.
As it stands, I have enough work to do with Glendale Road, so I don’t strive for relevance in churches of Christ anymore. If by anything I do, I can be a blessing to someone’s walk with Christ, I’m happy. However, I feel no need to opine on all issues church-related and write blogs based on setting others straight. I’m at peace with my decision to keep to myself. I have wonderful co-workers at Glendale. I’m very involved in the local community here which has been a nice addition to ministry. Brotherhood events no longer interest me. I couldn’t care less about speaking on this or that circuit or retreat, and I feel as if some of those things are merely gatherings of the elite to pat one another on the back for their soundness. That’s not to judge the motive of any who have such or participate in such, but I just find it vain, likely because of my own temptation to pride.
Many of the brethren who participate in networking among fellow preachers are great men. Those who organize such lectureships are great institutions with noble purposes. I suppose because I’ve been wounded a few times that I no longer feel the need to step out there for unkind characterizations when I serve a congregation and community where I’m loved. It’s that love that I’m drawn to, and it’s a measure of this that lacks in how some of us ministers treat our fellow laborers. I would hope that I haven’t made the very error that I’ve criticized here, but I’m aware that I may have at times done that. I no longer participate in the cycle. I’ve removed myself from the fray. Glorifying God, to me, doesn’t consist in the events I attend, the articles I write, but in how I love Him and my neighbors, even those with whom I may disagree.