Open Letter to My Brothers

Some context to this post: I am working as a  minister in the Sydney Anglican Diocese system.  Sydney Anglicans are often disparaged, but I am proud to be a Sydney Anglican.  Nevertheless, of late there has been a trend of men doing stupid and sinful things which have destroyed marriage and hurt churches.  In some cases there has been repentance and healing, praise God.  But it raises the question of prevention.  This could be applied to any ministry format, and while I refer to the term ‘brother’ it should include our sisters in Christ too.

To my brothers in Christ who serve the Lord in a Professional manner,

Please hear this rant, not in anger towards you or bitterness but in love and concern.  This week I heard of another ministry marriage on the rocks.  For me, this is no.4 this year that I have had some degree of connection with.  This doesn’t include the recent media accusations.

What inevitably happens after events like this is a series of conversations and posts about how can the diocese do more to prevent this from happening.  I am sure the guys in St. Andrews are doing the best they can, this post is not about assessing their strategies.  My issue here is that seeking to shift the responsibility to the diocese isn’t something I see in the Bible.

Brothers, we need to take some responsibility here.

There may be different issues with each of the cases here, but systematically it shows we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Heb 12:1–3 NIV11-GKE)

Without keeping our eyes on Jesus, we will drift into sin.  Sure, if we do this there is no guarantee that things will go well, but without it, there is a guarantee that things will go badly.  We need to take personal responsibility for preventing things like this happening.

So I want to ask you questions in case no-one else is:

  1. Are you reading the Bible?  I don’t just mean are you using your quiet time for sermon preparation.  Are you immersing yourself in a vision of God?  Are you reminding yourself of the grace of the gospel?
  2. Are you asking God’s Spirit to convict you of sin?  I don’t just mean do you have someone else who is as sinful as you keeping you accountable (that can be a good thing).  But are you asking God’s Holy Spirit to keep you accountable?  What exactly are you seeking to repent of right now?
  3. If you have a spouse are you spending time with them?  Taking our spouses for granted is not acceptable.  We are told to love our spouses (Eph 5:23ff.) and how we go on this is what should be what is assessed in our suitability as a leader (1 Tim 3:2,4).  This needs to start with simply spending time with them.
  4. Are you praying for your people?  We can get so busy serving our people that we don’t take the time to pray for them, asking the Spirit of God to do the things that we cannot: change them to become more Christ-like.
  5. Are you taking time to fill your mind with things that will help you grow?  Are you reading, or listening to others preach or booking in conferences?  Or are you simply assuming that you will magically grow in Christ without work?

If you can’t answer yes to these questions, cancel the meeting, postpone the visit.  Call in sick if you need to (you are spiritually sick!).  Do it for your people, do it for your wife, do it for me, but do it for yourself.  You are useless without this and you will do something stupid.

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