Sunday morning in our college and career class, the leader of our group asked us to rate our relationship with Jesus on a scale from 1 to 10. It got pretty quiet, pretty quick. “Let he who is without sin cast the first answer,” I remarked. I knew what our leader was asking us, but questioned in my mind what criteria we were using to grade ourselves. If the ruler is reading your Bible every day or praying then I get a gold-star, but the Bible is pretty clear about what God is looking for. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” God looks at the intentions, desires and motives of our hearts.
When this becomes the measuring stick, rating my relationship with Jesus looks a little different. Sometimes my heart is pure and my only intention is to glorify God with my actions. Other times my heart is in need of purification because I’m double-minded (James 4).
Unfortunately, the church is often a difficult environment when it comes to allowing honest conversations about the desires of our heart, hence the awkward silence from our group. Sometimes there is a misconception or even an expectation in the church that the members have it together and we’re all living this Jesus-led lifestyle without out any issues.
Every now and then something might come to the attention of the congregation, such as someone having a financial struggle for which they ask for help from the church, but many of the real internal struggles of those in the church tend to stay silent. We can’t always see hearts and intentions and truthfully, some people even prefer it that way.
I was having a conversation with a friend who is also in ministry about this subject. You see, as difficult as it is for the laity to confess that they aren’t perfect and actually struggle with a specific sin (not just the cliché admittance of struggling with sin in general), it is even more difficult for a pastor to admit this.
I think the amount of pastors struggling with grotesque sin is probably low, but when the senior pastor is struggling with anger who does he turn to? The board he is mad at? The congregation who holds him on a pedestal? Often times it feels like there is nobody you can talk to. The risks seem high, losing your job, saving face etc. Yet, the cost of not learning from your mistakes, the damage it can cause to the Church and most importantly the separation sin puts between us and God is far greater.
Mentoring is the key. It’s in these kind of relationships we find someone else in the church who we can confide in and be honest with about our struggles. It’s through mentoring that we ask someone older, wiser and more mature in their relationship with Christ not to make us like them but to help us become a little more like Jesus.
So this week I want to challenge you. Find yourself a mentor, find someone you can be honest with. Don’t do this thing alone because you have an image to maintain or a reputation to keep. Lay down your sin and pride not because you have face to save, but because you have an eternal relationship with Jesus who sees into the very depths of your heart.