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OFFENDED IN MINISTRY
I have to begin by saying that I am not offended by anyone in ministry at the present moment. But I am very aware that many people are or have been and it's a subject that needs to be dealt with.
When we are baby Christians, often our ministers can do no wrong. We have our leaders on pedastals and hungry babes take every word seriously and to task. This is good and beautiful.
But along the way, things come up and the opportunity for offense presents itself. Sometimes we don't understand; sometimes they don't understand. Sometimes we don't think they see the whole picture or maybe they are just wrong! What are we going to do when we are hurt or offended by our ministers?
It's a scary subject because for many, a minister represents the very word of God. And the very words of God are what ministers are supposed to minister, but ministers are human, too, and the only perfect One was Jesus, and He also offended people.
But with Jesus, people were offended because they either did not understand or they didn't want to because they wanted to stay in a comfort zone of not progressing or of not overcoming sin. His whole life was an offering but He gave boundaries and borders. Sometimes people chafed.
As ministers, the person who is ministering or leading will also do the same type giving of borders. Often they are parental and I don't know of any family where the children never cry or are disciplined. But that does not stop the love in a healthy situation. So a willingness to forgive and see is very crucial in overcoming ministry offenses.
I have been in a situation where the age differences have made a big difference. If you are blessed to live a while, sometimes life's wisdom can see what a special gifting cannot in a younger gifted minister.
When people come from different backgrounds, there can also be different ways of seeing things. Some people can be attractive because of their order or lack of it, and then if you are the opposite or have need for the opposite, it can offend you.
Sometimes the things that drew you to a person is not the thing that will sustain or adequately define the relationship. For example, if you go to a minister for end time prophetic teaching that fascinates you but also need marriage counseling, that minister might disappoint you. You might be in a predominantly prophetic church and be called to missions or evangelism and that could offend you.
We need to be careful that we don't make people the all in all answer for all of our spiriutal needs. No parent can teach their kids everything, there has to be and is outside help. And learning to work as a team in ministry is crucial.
I also do not know of anyone whose life is a constant steady of never being ruffled or challenged. Some people have developed personal composure well and some are just gifted in that, and some have developed their life focus strongly. Sometimes people don't see eye to eye on everything and sometimes personal challeges can cause a weakness that can disappoint another person.
If we believe that ministers will buffer us from all of life's difficult situations and circumstances, we are going to get offended at ministers. If a minister has faith that you will come through on all he or she has faith in you to be, they can get offended if you don't come through.
Jesus said offenses will come but woe to the one who causes them. Now I don't think He meant that we should get on a high horse or become the victims of impossible demands, but that we should discern those who purposefully seek to stumble others in their faith.
Authority holds great promise of rewards, but also carries with it the risk of damage and severe disappointment. But do we blame God for us not getting our way or does He blame us for not doing it His way?
We often hate to look at ourselves and find the blame. Being wrong is uncomfortable. We like our sense of self and we don't like for it to be challenged. But if there is a reward greater than the pain, or a pain greater than the reward of self, we will be motivated to change!
Life is full of great ministry stories where people overcame the most difficult challenges and found God. Some of those stories include people overcoming offenses at ministry.
Our belief system must become strong to overcome our problems with our leadership. God is very much interested in developing the personal self in each of us, because it is from there that we express who we are and our gifts. And the stronger we are, the more we have to give!
So God will allow thorns in our nest to develop us as human individuals, but there is also an anti-Christ spirit in the world that we have to discern and overcome. The tricky part is to not hold individuals totally responsible when it may not be fully their fault, but we must have the eyes to see that. And that vision comes by a relationship with God.
So to know Him, we must seek Him and there is a risk in learning and experiencing authority, because imperfect people can misrepresent a perfect God or subject matter, even us! So we need grace and peace multiplied to overcome the myriad of things that can go wrong in relationships and learning situations.
The "School of the Holy Spirit" is going on whether we go to man-designed place of learning or not. The disciples were considered unlearned men, but they were taught by the greatest Teacher the world has known. The Apostle Paul who never mentored directly under Jesus in the flesh, was also taught by Him through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and in his early days by the institutions. Both had their good place in his life but I think he would say the greater was the School of the Spirit.
Sometimes God answers our prayers with "Wait" because it may take a while for Him to get the answer to us. In the big picture, He knows what we need and want and what is best for us. But because He wants us to rule and reign with Him, He is also calling us up to a higher place of life that will not cater to our every personal desire.
Sometimes our place of offense with ministry is because He is calling us up to a higher place and we have to learn how to graciously get there. Our biggest places of offense are often our greater places of ministry. When we have been offended and overcome, we come into a place of authority there, but it's an authority to minister the Love that we have received in that area.
It's through that where we begin to learn that we are all co-ministers and co-laborers together for and to the Body of Christ and the lost. We must give ourselves permission to change. It is the new experiences that cause our personal growth. We can be a little scruffy bush or a big old tree but the bottom line is the fruit we produce.
When we disagree with ministry in our lives, we have to make the decision that we confront the challenge with change and adjusting, or do we seek new life elsewhere. A man could be employed at a company for 30 years and get laid off. He can spend his life crying about being laid off and the company's demise, or he can find the new life that is out there in God. Yes, it's a drastic change, but it could be the best thing that ever happened!
But we never know how life can be good if we don't pursue it. To survive big system changes, we must have a strong support group. If a church or business fails, God did not. He is still running the Universe. It can be disconcerting to have to regroup, but maybe there was a good reason. We have to know that God is in the business of building us up and if something seems to have failed, then we need to see His adjustment plans in that for the good of all.
There are many times in life where our principles will be challenged. We have to make decisions there on how we will change and if we don't make the right decisions right away, we can know that corrections will eventually come. Ultimately we die and face God and His Plans for our next life. There is a judgment coming on every life and work. Do we want to be tossed aside or used for the next greater glory?
Of course we want the greater glory but part of that may be getting over offenses. There are some very tragic events that take place and some incredibly wonderful ones. To be in a place for the greater requires lining up with proper avenues of authority.
Understanding authority and its benefits comes in stages. We most likely will not get all of our lessons in one place. But if we work at seeking what God's ideal authority will be, we will often find ourselves in a position of being an authority in some areas to others ourselves, and needing grace for that! Sometimes God divides to multiply the lessons.
The twelve apostles did not all hang out in the same place, except in the beginning days of the Church. As they each matured God branched them out into other locations of ministry and teams. Sometimes persecutions motivated them on and sometimes the willingness to meet a hungering need did.
If we will look at our offenses as opportunities to grow and be facilitators of God's Plans, we can get over them and resolve them much quicker. If a minister that we respect has offended us, we need to really seek God in our personal life and ask Him where we need to be.
Is God confronting us in an area that needs change or is He asking us to be strong in our own self worth? Our self worth is valuable if we are using it for God's glory. If God is dealing with us to get past self into more of Him, then we need to take that lesson without causing more damage to oursleves or other people.
God may be calling us off of another's foundation so we will build on our own. We need to get the vision of His greater work that includes us. Sometimes that in itself is the discipline that God wants us to have in our development.
Jesus had disciples. Disciples are students who learn the discipline of acheivements. Some people are trailblazers and front runners. Some are support staff but even that is a ministry.
Trust is a big issue and it's one we need to work on if we want to allow God to impart strength and power into our lives. Without it, we can never see a sustained move of God, nor could we discern it.
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