I want to talk some more this new year on this blog about loyalty. I still believe loyalty and honour are the two missing ingredients in the modern day charismatic church and grace movement. I believe if we grasped the power of loyalty and the power of honour then we would absolutely and totally see revival in Europe in our generation.
Today, just a simple introduction to the concept of loyalty by pondering the truth that loyalty must start from the top down. I was trained in a denomination that when you finished Bible College it was most likely you ended up pastoring a small church of 30-40 people. If you did well and the church didn’t split and no-one killed you, then in a couple of years they would promote you to a larger church. So these small churches would often go through a different pastor every year or two.
One of my friends left Bible College and got given one of these churches. On the first Sunday he preached on the need for commitment. That’s important – you need to be committed. He preached that you need to be committed to the church, to the pastor, to the vision of the pastor. That’s all true. That’s absolutely true. But at the end of the service, one of the elders came to him and said: “I’ve been in this church for 40 years and you are the 25th pastor I have had. I know I am committed, it’s you I am not convinced about!”.
You see we cannot preach about commitment if we are not committed. We cannot preach about loyalty unless we are loyal. One of my friends, another pastor, once asked me about why my leaders were so loyal to me and his leaders were not loyal. I didn’t know what to do except praise my leaders (and we have great leaders in the Tree). But a few weeks later I found out that he was planning to leave his church in 3 years and impress his denomination enough to get given a bigger church. How can you be loyal to people who you know are leaving in 3 years? On the other hand, the people in Dagenham Tree of Life know that to get me to leave you will need to kill me!
It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, that went down to the skirts. (Psalm 133.2)
Whatever is in the leader will be in the church eventually. The starting point for commitment and loyalty is the head of the organization. If the head is disloyal, the church will be. That’s one of the main reasons loyalty is not part and parcel of the charismatic move in the UK because some pastors are unreasonable, some leaders are disloyal to their subordinates, some overseers are unkind.
If you don’t want your assistant pastors and elders to call you names, don’t call them names. Treat them with honour and loyalty. Be grateful to the people who come to your church.
People do not go to work for money, but for well-being. Study after study has shown this – make your people feel important and appreciated. Be loyal to your people!
Loyalty must work from the head down.
A number of years ago, when the church was still growing, I realized I had no other option but to pastor Tree of Life. Other people were not speaking well of me, nobody else wanted to know me, the Pentecostal denominations had closed the door on me. I only had Tree of Life. I wondered if I was loyal or whether I was just only doing what I could do.
I asked the Lord to confirm that I was loyal to Tree of Life. Within a few weeks I got a phone call from a church whose pastor had just left to the States suddenly and abandoned them. They were a church of 300 when Tree of Life was only 30. They offered me three times my salary, they offered me a house to live in for free, they offered to buy me a brand new car. They had heard me on the radio and loved my preaching and really wanted me to take on the whole church.
It took me a couple of seconds to decide, but I made my decision. Tree of Life comes first. That is that. In 2016, I have many plans to minister overseas – I am getting a lot of invites, but I am planning to be preaching in Tree of Life Dagenham 50 Sundays out of 52. That’s called loyalty. That means less income for me, less exposure, less variety. But it means loyalty. That is vital for me.
If I was not a pastor, I know some churches I would struggle to be in – because some pastors are not loyal, they are hirelings. But when loyalty flows from the head, loyalty begats loyalty.