I'm in the middle of transcribing one of Rob Rufus's sessions in South Africa at the "Increasing Glory 2009" conference. I love nothing more than when he gets angry and lays into legalists. It thrills me beyond words - is that wrong!? I think a lifetime of legalism makes you so glad when someone is brave enough to stand up and confront wrong-doing.
Anyhow - Rob said this to church leaders;
"Stop bullying, managing and controlling God's people. We do not have a right to have authority in the church unless the authority we have is liberating, grace, fatherly, fond, affectionate and kind. We will use our ministries to to build people up - not use people to build our ministries".
He went on;
"Too many church leaders have an addiction worse than cocaine - it is to the approval of man".
Many church leaders would proudly claim they are prepared to make unpopular decisions that upset their congregations. One well-known US so-called apostle was heard to say that he was sick and tired of being told he should keep people happy - he said he was there to upset and be unpopular. But Rob Rufus went on to point out that actually - the approval that many church leaders so desperately cling to is the leadership hierarchies in their movements or church families or denominations.
Question - would church leaders be prepared to stand up and defend their congregations even if it meant going against their regional apostle?
I remember being subjected to corporal discipline in the church school when I was a child. I had a conversation quite recently with someone who asked if I resented being hit by a school teacher. I thought about it and answered that it wasn't the actual physical striking I resented. What I resented was the refusal of my parents to even consider listening to my side of events. The fact I was a child meant that I had to be wrong and the school teachers always right.
I think the same applies in church families. Surely there is nothing more discouraging and hurtful than someone who has allegedly been put in charge of your soul and yet refuses to believe you first and hear you out before making judgements. Oh for more church leaders that do indeed have a liberating, kind, gracious, fond love to their leadership! Thank God there are leaders out there like that. The photo shows two of my favourites - the Morrises and the Rufus's!