Dear Church Family,

Greetings in Jesus’ name!

I have seen a lot of interesting, sometimes scary, things in my thirty year  tenure as a pastor. One of the most troubling things that I have seen is pastors, or any other ministry gift for that matter, who expect submission yet are unwilling to earn trust. There are people that I submit my life to that  have earned that trust and speak into my life. They are proven leaders who handle the Word with integrity, have biblical homes, and have been in ministry for a substantial number of years. Not one of them told me that I needed to submit my life to them. Not one of them “gave me a Word” about coming into a relationship with them; and, not one of them has ever required my submission to their authority. 

Submission has, at its root, a willingness. Even in Hebrews 13, which is often cited when leaders feel they are losing control, at its core is a willingness to yield when you are persuaded that a course of action is correct. It simply does not mean blind obedience to a leader. Especially when the leader is pronouncing doom on you because you are not doing what they say. Now understand, a leader should give you biblical counsel and instruction-some of which has a warning with it. However, it must be biblical. Mistreating your wife (1 Peter 3:7) has a biblical warning with it, not receiving a “Word” from a “prophet” does not. 

As a believer, you are to live by the Bible. There are a lot of ministers and ministries today that exist solely because people are ignorant of the Word and are gullible. As a pastor, my job is to teach you the Bible, make a disciple out of you; and yes, speak into your life. Yet the moment I do any of that with a motive other than glorifying God, I have overstepped my role. Several years ago, I was in a church service with some well-known preachers. It was a good meeting until, at the close, the speaker said, “The Lord told me that there are ten people here this morning that He has instructed to give $1000.” Then, he proceeded to put a hold on the meeting and “instruct” the people, until ten people finally came forward with their $1000. This was actually some of the grossest manipulation I have ever witnessed. I never followed any of those ministers again. What they did was self-serving. Do I believe that God told ten people to give $1000? No, I do not, but if He did, I am not convinced that it was any of the minister’s business. It appeared to be very self-serving and the tactics they used were very questionable.

Does God give you leaders? Yes. Has He given those leaders a mandate to teach His people and speak the Word into their lives? Yes. What He has not done is give them permission to manipulate you or abuse any privilege He has given them to control your life. 

I call you blessed!