Many Thanks to Many Fathers

Many people in churches today find it hard to trust Christian leaders and pastors. Pews are littered with people who have tons of church baggage. I am one of those people. And while I have had my fair share of doubts and disillusionments, I have also been blessed to learn from some of the best. The more and more I talk with other Christians, the more I hear how few of them can ever recall having good spiritual mentors or coaches. And I am specifically talking about leaders who really know the individual on a personal basis.

God has blessed me with several. My ability to trust leaders even when they make mistakes is in large part to these men. While none of them were perfect, they have shown God’s love to me. I have had enough good leaders in my life that I know they exist. Sadly, many Christians cannot relate with my experience. I am thinking about this as the newspapers are filled with reports about the public fall of a major evangelical leader. And while the sin and cover up is shocking, it should not surprise any of us. If we are honest, we all know the potential for great sin that lies in each one of us. As the Apostle Paul once said, “In me (apart from Christ) is no good thing.”

Sometimes the problem is that we expect too much from leaders. We unknowingly make idols out of leaders and take our eyes of Jesus. Sometimes the problem is that we make special cases for them. And when a problem comes, it is easy to want to run away from the whole thing.

I have heard many people talk about the pain they received in the hands of the church. But their pain likely will not be healed by running from fellowship. I have found my greatest sense of healing by working through my disappointments.  

I recently encountered a man in his sixties who demonstrated the results of a life in the church with limited spiritual fathering. He keeps on looking for a church that is doing it right. But, he never seems to find it. Ineffective leadership has led him to question the need for leadership at all.

This person knows the Word and has been used in ministry for years. He is a smart, articulate man. But he is also wounded and disillusioned. At times, I hear bitterness in his voice as he talks about the tyranny of the institutions and the misguided theology of modern church systems. In many ways, he is right about the failures of modern Christianity. But I wonder if he is wrong to run. Will he ever find the utopia that he seeks?

I am thankful for the good Christian men that God has placed in my life. These are some of the men who have helped make me who I am. Each one has demonstrated aspects of Jesus to me.  

Thank you to the following:

• Dad – Thanks for being my sounding board and teaching me so much about being a man.

• Don Coleman – Thanks for listening and always pointing me back to Jesus. You have encouraged me to let God do great things in all aspects of my life.

• Billy Dempsey – Thanks for show me what it means to disciple others and giving me a desire to jump deep into the “tough” books of the Bible.

• Doug Middleton – Thanks for your godly leadership during my high school years. You truly taught me how to “Be Ready” for whatever the enemy throws at me.

• Steve Hughes – Thanks for having the courage to challenge me to seek a greater move of the Holy Spirit in my life.

• Roy Layman – Thanks for listening, praying and supporting me in my call to the local church.

• Lewis Johnson – Thanks for your solid advice and Godly counsel.

• Scott – Thanks for your honesty and willingness to say the tough things that big brothers sometimes have to say.

• Jeff McBee – Thanks for lunch in the Word and your fair perspective on difficult questions about God and theology.

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