Baseball Rules For Ministry: Tie Goes To The Runner!

When a teacher spoke to me about one of my children, I knew this; her words were the truth about the situation! That wasn’t just a nice platitude or an “old school” mentality — but “far more.”  It was an operating principle!

The “more” was that as the church pastor and administrator of the Christian school, I knew it took something meaningful for a teacher to come to me with an issue! If it was important enough for a teacher to step up to the bat, then it was right to give it serious attention! If there was even or ever a tie, it went to the runner — the one who felt strong enough about a concern that they felt they should at least make it to first base!

Pastors know this, or at least should know this unless they find some lopsided consolation in thinking otherwise . . . .

There is an immense amount of natural grace
given to a ministry leader and/or the pastor(s) of local church ministry!

. . . . and for various reasons — and for good reasons.

  • He is their pastor!
  • They voted on and called their pastor to their ministry.
  • His position and title rightfully matter to God’s people.
  • He ministers to them from the pulpit about godly living.
  • God’s people believe that they ought to be careful and cautious when speaking about ministry leaders or their pastor(s).
  • “There is no perfect pastor or perfect church.”
  • The shepherd is over the flock.
  • We want to believe, and we ought to believe, that the pastor(s) is an honest, good, and godly person.
  • God’s people want to believe the best about their leadership.
  • The pastor is working with a wide variety of people with varied opinions.
  • “Success” is a quieting agent.
  • If he has been there for years, whatever differences there were/are, are no longer that significant.

If ministry leaders or pastors read the above list, they are feeling fairly good right now!

“Yes, heading up a ministry and/or being a pastor isn’t an easy job! People need to cut some slack when it comes to being critical. We are working hard at ministry and doing the best we know how with such a diverse span of individuals and families — no less in today’s culture!”

For all those reasons — and more — there is a lot of grace extended to ministry leaders and pastors! Not, “there ought to be a lot of grace extended,” but there is!

God’s people are typically, overwhelmingly, and exceptionally hesitant to do much more than mildly “bleat” about a decision, action, or regarding their shepherd.

There are biblical truths and principles that genuinely support being gracious and kind towards those in leadership!

The difficulty is that those truths and principles can also be used as a cloak to hide behind. That is why the list seemingly gets longer and longer when it comes to present-day examples of ministry wrong-doing!

Examine the all too numerous and varied cases of ministerial wrong-doing, and you will see how the truths and principles of Scripture were used to ward off legitimate criticism. A few — and often too few — people were speaking out because there is a lot of grace given to ministry leaders and pastors!

There are clear biblical truths that are legitimate guidelines for church behavior . . . . .

  • be slow to speak and quick to hear
  • speech seasoned with grace
  • the fruits of the Spirit
  • patience, kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another
  • Matthew 18
  • salt and pure water from the same fountain
  • and many others!

However, they can be, and are, also used to quiet and/or evade criticism — even legitimate criticism or serious wrong-doing! [1]

It is difficult to go to a ministry leader, deacons, and surely one’s pastor to address an issue of concern!

When that happens, the concern needs to be genuinely acknowledged.

Beyond that, there needs to be some serious listening and attentiveness about the concern because, like the teacher, the employee or member has been debating whether to step up and go to bat, to speak up — or to stay on the bench and out of the lineup, or even out of the game!

It has been a hard decision for even the most plainspoken because, like all of us, their lives are also about relationships. They understand that there may be, and usually are, repercussions from speaking out and addressing a situation. The official referees and even your other players have been known to turn on you and they know that then — It’s game over!

Even the most outspoken and forward understand the relational risks regarding their ministry or church! They live their lives around family, work, and the church! Their ministry and/or the church is where they live a good part of their lives!

Any believed “tie” ought to go to them, the runner.

If they decided to go to bat, they should get the presumption that there is something worthy of a fair and genuine discussion.

As they try to make it to at least first base, not only should the time and effort be given to them to make their case, but the legitimacy of their concerns ought to be seen as “safe” for an honest evaluation!

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1. The proof is far too obvious and repeated when it comes to pastoral wrong-doing — case after case continually shows up on today’s landscape! The Scriptures warn about that phenomenon because that is exactly why and how wolves are able to hide as sheep. They quote the Bible and use it as a cloak. They make it appear that they are just being biblical and seeking to be like Jesus!

When called out, they use biblical truths and principles as a cloak — Matthew 15; I Thessalonian 2:5; John 15:22; I Peter 2:16!

The biblical truths and principles are biblical! But they can be and are used to silence and/or cover!

They . . . .

  • are not lazy — just patient and watchful
  • were not unloving — but are like Jesus, who called out the money-changers
  • were not unfriendly — just trying to be careful
  • are not indifferent — just seeking to be discerning
  • are not greedy for gain — just planning & thinking ahead
  • were not stingy — just being frugal
  • are not covetous — just want to use it/that for the Lord
  • were not uncaring — just walking circumspectly
  • did no wrong — but prayed about it
  • are not evasive — but like Jesus, suffering the wrong
  • were not sinfully angry — it was just righteous indignation
  • did not lack a heart for the lost — but trusting God to direct / to open the door
  • did not overlook or ignore needs — they were merely redeeming the time
  • were not a respecter of persons — just trying to give honor where honor is due
  • have not been immoral — just misunderstood / judge not

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