As a pastor, what we teach can give life, or take away life.
The responsibility is formidable. James 3:1 reminds those of us who are in leadership positions in the churches of this; “NOT MANY OF YOU SHOULD BECOME TEACHERS, MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS, FOR YOU KNOW THAT WE WHO TEACH WILL BE JUDGED WITH GREATER STRICTNESS.”
My experience in seminary was that some of my colleagues were not realizing how vulnerable people tend to hang on our every word and perceive it as even being the word of God. One young male fellow student even scoffed that this was so. People in crisis are desperate to find solutions to their situations, but more than that, there is a conscious need as a Christian person in crisis, to ensure that whatever action we take, we remain within the will of God.
People in crisis are not able to be as spiritually discerning as is good for us, i.e. to recognize if the pastoral council we are receiving is actually theologically sound. I know, because I have ‘been there’ when seeking help in my situation of domestic violence and ended up remaining in an abusive marriage for three more years after my initial request from help from the church I was attending as a regular church member at that time. It took me three years to ignore pastoral ‘advice’ that was keeping me and my children in danger, and to seek the safety we needed. This particular experience and too many more was what led me to follow God’s leading and to seek training and competence to offer myself as a counselor and a pastor to the Church at large to make a difference for those still applying to churches for help and sadly, still getting unsafe and ungodly pastoral counselling in their abusive situations, whether it is child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and spiritual abuse.
It is nothing to do with intelligence or biblical knowledge. It is about a person in crisis having compromised reasoning because of the “fight or flight” adrenaline that is rushing around our brains when seeking safety.
This article helps church leaders and the people to look at scriptures in context if we are open enough to read it.
I implore my fellow church colleagues to dare to read to the end of the article, try to put emotion aside, (Because this article may stir up defensive reactions in those of us who are firmly entrenched in traditional teachings that we have followed and passed on for years) and then examine the scriptures again for yourselves.
God encourages us to examine his word. In fact he tells us to question and examine his word in
Acts 17:11, “THESE JEWS WERE MORE RECEPTIVE THAN THOSE IN THESSALONICA, FOR THEY WELCOMED THE MESSAGE VERY EAGERLY AND EXAMINED THE SCRIPTURE EVERY DAY TO SEE WHETHER THESE THINGS WERE SO.”