Sunday, October 15, 2006

Constitution and By-Laws of the Heart

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted an article. I’ve been encouraged by family and friend alike to once again explore creativity by putting word to page. So, if you will…

About seven years ago while in between churches I was emailing resumes and responding to search committees at a frenzied pace. I recall a specific church’s pastor packet. In it was a copy of their constitution & by laws. It was a fascinating document, 24 pages as I recall, consisting of layer upon layer of revisions upon revisions. Each revision marking a season of their hurt, pain and betrayal.

These poor shepherd-less, wounded people were desperately trying to protect themselves from future pain by insulating themselves with rules, regulations, articles and by-laws. They were doomed to failure.

I recall telling them that if they wanted me as their pastor they would have to discard this document and start over. I reminded them that the church was created to be a relational organism based upon loving and trusting relationships, not an organization established upon the rules and regulations of men. They decided to hire another pastor.

Have you noticed how very much like this church’s search committee most of us are? When we are wounded we seek to protect ourselves with the law. We devise rules, disciplines or boundaries to either guard our hearts or enhance our performance. My problem with this approach is that the cost is too high. I might feel safer but there is very little freedom in the law.

Somewhere somebody somehow decided that Christianity was supposed to be safe, neat, orderly and risk free. How the hell did that happen? The Jesus I find in the pages of the New Testament was messy and risky. Hey, Peter was messy and you don’t crucify the safe, neat orderly guy.

I want to pastor a church that is more welcoming to the Peters and Matthews of the world than the Scribes or Pharisees. Accomplishing this will require:

Less law and more grace…
Less safety and greater risks…
Less order and more messes…
Less debt and more forgiveness…
Less anger and a lot more love…

Heavenly Father, rewrite the constitution and by-laws of my heart. Remove those articles that insulate me from others and therefore from you. Write upon my heart the passion of Jesus, that law of love which saw the apostle in the fisherman and the tax collector. Lord, help me to be more risky, more messy, less safe and more like Jesus, Amen.

© Tom Zawacki, 2006


  1. Well honey, I'm so very glad to see you've taken my advice. I love the article - it's great to have you back. But you must know I love you more and appreciate your willingness to explore creativity again. Love you forever.

  2. now that's the Tom Zawacki we all know and love!!

    Welcome back "Potter"...

  3. Good stuff Tom, and good to have your thoughts to read.

    Love you.