I had a great conversation this morning with Larry Holman, Pastor of First Baptist Church Hooper City, in Birmingham, Alabama. Larry and I went to high school together at Ramsay High in Birmingham. Now he pastors the church where I was baptized that’s behind my Grandma’s house. We talked a lot about the neighborhood and his ministry there. We also talked about books we’re reading and leadership in general.
Our conversation eventually shifted to authenticity and integrity in ministry. In particular we talked about the examples we set in the congregations we serve. One comment Larry made this morning really struck a cord with me. He said “sometimes I come across pastors who do certain things ‘in the streets’ that make me want to ask ‘how can you even step in the pulpit doing the things you do’?” Good question!
Larry and I both agreed that as pastors we live in the public eye. We seem to face a greater public scrutiny than the average believer. We are constantly aware of the impressions our actions have on both believers and non-believers. As Paul says:
“We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed.” (2 Corinthians 6:3 NKJV)
But here is something for every believer to consider whether in the ministry or not:
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NKJV)
Our kids are watching our everyday witness. We take them to church but they are looking for the church in us at home. Our co-workers are looking at our witness when we make ethical and unethical decisions. Our friends are paying attention to the witness of our attitudes and compromises. Even the random strangers we flip off and curse out while driving are getting a glimpse of our witness. As we speed off they wonder “how can they put a ‘Jesus is my co-pilot’ bumper sticker on their car and behave like that?”
If you’re not sure about what God expects from your witness here is a simple solution. Take the standard for godly living you expect for your pastor and apply it to your own life.
We all have the same standard. The only difference between ministers and lay persons is that the ministers have received specific spiritual, ministry gifts to be used to help develop the church (see Ephesians 4:11). Strive for consistency in your lifestyle and you will truly BE a witness for Christ.