The scandals and secrets that are coming out about ministries and denominations are very scary. Witnessing sexual accusations and claims of abuse against pastors and ministry leaders is extremely disheartening and sickening. One can’t help but ponder and ask how did they get to this point? What drove one of my friends in ministry to leave his wife and children and run off with another woman? What caused the wife of a good friend of mine to have an affair with another man in their church? The flesh? The Devil? Pressures of ministry? All of these could be considered. I can’t help but think there is more than that.
A very popular show over the years that I have always enjoyed is American Pickers. Mike and Frank(ie), who were childhood friends, drove the country looking for valuable junk to resale for profit out of their pawn shop in Tennessee. A few years ago the show took a drastic twist when Frank walked out. He said his reason for leaving was due to surgery and Crohn’s disease (I get that!). Then Frank said something that caused people to believe there was more to the story (and there usually is). He said, “The show is tilted towards Mike one thousand percent.” What Frank was saying was that he didn’t like being the “second chair.” Frank did not enjoy following Mike’s lead.
I can’t help but think the reason so many men and women have found themselves making life-altering mistakes is that they have never learned how to follow nor have they put themselves under other godly examples. So many young men leave seminary thinking their degrees qualify them immediately for the lead role. Many feel the position of an assistant pastor is beneath them. I know that feeling! I had no desire to be an assistant after my schooling, yet God left me in that role for sixteen years! I guess I am a slow learner. Looking back I assure you I needed all sixteen years!
Mentors are extremely important in all areas of life. Who we learn from early on plays a crucial role in who we become. Take, for instance, President John F. Kennedy. How in the world could a man of his position and stature live such a sensuous lifestyle? The men he followed (his father and uncles) taught him and his brother by example how to satisfy their sexual desires at a very early age.
Politicians, pastors, television celebrities, and others who have found themselves in the spotlight with insufficient time in the shadows are destined for failure. Without following or being mentored by a respected leader before the lights camera and action, sets a novice on the path to narcissism. John Maxwell said it this way, “God uses a crockpot not a microwave for his leaders.” We see microwaved men and women burning out and falling apart way too soon.
Paul told the church at Corinth, “Follow me.” He told the church at Philippi “The things you learned, received, heard, and see in me-do! (my translation). He told Timothy to take the things he had learned from Paul (as a follower) and commit them to other faithful men who could do the same.
Paul knew that for the ministry to continue it would require him to mentor sons in the faith. Demas left the race, but he encouraged Timothy in his last letter to stay the course. I love how Fady Andraws illustrates this in his blog:
“Think of a 4x400m relay race. The first man ran a great leg and he passes the baton to the second man who is way ahead and he makes a perfect pass to the third. And the third guy walks off and sits on the grass. His excuse? I didn’t feel like running. YOU DIDN’T FEEL LIKE IT? You can’t do that! Timothy, you are a link in a chain and you need to both guard the purity of the treasure and then pass it on. You are a link in a relay race and someone is waiting for you to give them the baton. You can’t just sit down. It’s not up to you! The treasure has been invested in you and you have to keep the truth going! More so in 2 Timothy chapter 1 verse 15, Paul describes unfaithful servants who stopped running. Who stopped teaching. And he includes these names to say, look, Timothy? Do you want to be like them? or do you want to be on my team and keep running?”
Who’s team do you desire to run with? What kind of team do you wish to lead? Those who have been known to drop out and fail, or those who are known for their faithfulness and loyalty to Christ?