Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tested by God, Judged by Men

Applicable to most stations of life but particularly true of pastors, we’re tested by God while being judged by men. People pleasing, it’s a paralyzing disease and an unwinnable contest.

When you’ve been a churchman as long as I have, you know enough scripture to support any position, action or inaction. As do those sojourners who’ve been on the journey as long as you have. If you take a stand for truth, a passionate congregant may counter your position with a demand for love. A firm position on righteousness brings a cry for mercy. While a call for grace raises a serious concern for holiness. And of course every position is backed by the requisite chapter and verse.

Long ago I discovered that saying yes to God may mean saying no to man. A more recent revelation has been the realization that to pass God’s test I’ll need to endure man’s judgment. Even with a superhuman combined feat of theological, relational and oratory gymnastics I may at best satisfy groups “A” and “B”. Group “C” is destined to despise me. And if I were to somehow unveil the mystery to making everyone happy, I will have no doubt in the processes failed God’s test.

Hmmm, what’s man to do?

The people pleaser keeps the plates spinning until he develops an ulcer. He saddles his wife and staff with unrealistic expectations, he runs his church ragged and soon after quits a broken and bitter man. The fear of man is a harsh and merciless taskmaster!

The God pleaser, on the other hand presses into God. He captures God’s heart for the moment and blinded by faith leaps into action. Jesus followed this path, and as a result the crowds turned on him, his closest friends abandoned him, the faithful crucified him and he saved mankind. Men judged Jesus and men will judge us too, expect it, it’s inevitable. (John 15:18-25)

This whole being a “living sacrifice” thing seems more and more real. Yes, I’ll follow the Man from Galilee. I’ll pass the tests he lays before me, I’ll endure the consequences and hopefully I’ll choose to love each step of the way. How about you?

‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship..” Romans 12:1

© Tom Zawacki 2007


  1. Loving is what we are called to do. I choose to love along with you.

  2. I liked what you said about differing points of view - I never stopped to think about it like that. It makes it easier to understand someone with a differing point of view.

    And, the trick (as you appropriately put it) is to decide which way the Master is leading. Grace and Holiness are both true, but which way is He asking you to lean.

    Good stuff, Godfather.

    - Shadraq

  3. true story.

    good stuff.

  4. We can never make light of the conflict here. It is real and I'm not sure it is ever completely resolved in us. Thanks Tom for reminding us that it is your struggle, too. Thanks for letting us know that we can sometimes unknowingly put that kind of pressure on our pastor.
    Remember Jesus' reaction to Mary and Martha when they tried to get him to come to the aid of Lazarus? They tried to motivate him to hurry by reminding him that he loved Lazarus. - No pressure and not that we want to tell you what to do , but the guy that you love is sick. With that kind of pressure, he still waited until the Father told him to go.

  5. Gods ways not ours thats for sure. Great perspective freedom fighter.