The List

Last week, I asked 1500 pastors and leaders who attended our Ascent and Enter conferences to make a list of leaders from local churches or ministries who were at least 60 years old, still had passion for Jesus, loved their spouses and had raised children who also followed Jesus. Most of us had a short list.  Instead, many of us knew many leaders who had fallen away because of moral failures or complete burnout.

My heart breaks for my fellow leaders who have fallen and I am not pointing out their failures so they have to revisit their shame.  I believe in the power of the Gospel to restore and redeem all of broken humanity, including fallen leaders of churches. The church is still learning how to restore those who have fallen, and the fallen leaders are still learning how to submit to imperfect churches. For sure, both the fallen and the leaders who have not still have a lot to learn.

Why can’t we make the list before turning 60? I like this age because most people over 60 have become empty nesters and their entire body of work can begin to be evaluated. Do their kids still love the local church or have they become irreparable cynics because of what they have seen at home with their own parents or what they have witnessed behind the scenes of the local church?

At 60, any fissures in the leader’s marriage have already been exposed. Did the leaders have an affair with their work as ministers or did they choose to love their spouse the way Christ loves His bride?  Does the spouse still love the ministry or do they have deep resentment for what ministry stole from their marriage?

At 60, if a leader has neglected their private relationship with Christ, it is or soon will be evident to the public. Has the leader simply read the Bible to prepare for the next talk or is the leader still fascinated by the mysteries of Scripture and finds life from the Holy Spirit when it is read?

At 60, a leader either loves people more than ever or has found ways to completely blockade himself from any real relationships with those whom he is assigned to shepherd. The idea of meeting with people, performing a wedding for a young couple or speaking at the funeral of a dear, departed saint is either an ever growing passion or a necessary evil.

So, in 18 years, when I turn 60, I will write another blog to answer these questions for myself. I hope to make your list if someone asks you the question I asked last week. I am grateful I don’t have to do this with my own strength because I am certain I would miss the mark. I am thankful for Scripture, for the Holy Spirit, for my best friend, Pam, and for a circle of trusted friends who are cheering me toward the finish line.

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  1. Dear Pastor Brady, Thankyou so much for the message yesterday. My husband and I started our early years of marriage in a vibrant Spirit filled church in Sacramento, where the Pastor taught on these messages so much, regarding sexual temptation. I will never forget a sermon in which he preached
    out of Proverbs 7. Our Pastor spoke of the role of the seduction of a harlot. “With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, With her flattering lips she seduced him. Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to slaughter, Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, Till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, He did not know it would cost his life.” Prov. 7:21-23. This image of a man with a heavy yoke on his neck being lead to slaughter, losing liberty and freedom, has stuck with us, as well as a warning to us women how to conduct ourselves in the presence of our brothers, and men in the world, that we might not cause them to stumble.

    As we ponder the state of the church, and church leadership, and our failure as well as our faithfulness, I believe one thing to consider is the calling that leaders have. According to Ephesians 4:11-12, Jesus, Himself gave some as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for the equipping, and the edification of the body. I believe we need to recognize that
    we as humans often seek out leaders for our own benefit or out of our soulish realm. I am very comforted to know that He places in the body, and gifts as He sees fit for the benefit of all. I
    believe that those whom the Lord chooses, will go through seasons of brokeness, lessons in humility, and testing before they are put in leadership. Our caution is that we wait for Him to
    reveal His choices for leadership, and we submit in the timing because they are His choice. We ought not to be in a rush to fill positions, but to wait on His counsel, to not do so is to act independently of Him, the very Head of the Church, and is rebellious in nature. I am thankful for the leadership at New Life Church, and rest in the fact that Christ is the Head of His Church, and He sets in the body as He sees fit. I just have to believe, He who knows the hearts of each of us, will complete that which He has started through us. Lord may we humble ourselves under Your Mighty Hand. You alone are the Head of Our Church, Our Homes, Our City. Forgive your body for the times we have sought out position, power, or leadership, apart from Your calling. We humble ourselves under your leadership….and exalt You as Head of Your church. May we align ourselves under You Lord, Our Head, Our Chief Shepherd. Grant grace to those in leadership in our body, and this city.
    kathy walton

  2. Pastor Brady,

    I blog often about adultery because it is one of those things that cannot touch your life w/o forever changing it. I know. My husband and I are committed to not only make it, but to show others how to avoid/survive the pain we’ve been through. We rarely feel that pastors are preaching on this uncomfortable and difficult topic. So sincerely, thank you SO much for your deep heart in this matter.

    From the very bottom of our hearts,

    Sarah Valente

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