Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fruit Inspection

I've been pondering leadership a lot lately.

Joel is the pastor of our church. He is a leader. That's a weighty role.

We left a ministry where leadership was controlling--much more than I even realized! We left the ministry because they were making changes and we did not feel we could commit to the changes. Specifically, GFA was planning to build a new headquarters with staff housing on a campus an hour east of where we lived. We weren't sure about: selling our house and "renting" from the ministry, having all the staff further isolated, and our commitment to the ministry for more than another few years.

During the five years we served on staff at GFA, Joel's desire to pastor a church never waned. So, we decided it was time to move on. We walked away quietly so Joel could attend seminary in hopes that he would then be called to pastor a church. In the three years since we left GFA, we have discovered that there was much more going on behind closed doors at GFA than we could have imagined. My trust in the leadership at the ministry is gone. Completely.

How do we decide if someone in leadership is worth following?

You often hear the word "fruit" in a discussion on the value of someone's ministry. What exactly is this "fruit"? In telling people about the corruption of GFA leadership, I've heard people say "There has been such good fruit from the ministry that I'm sure there's just a misunderstanding" or "You will know a ministry is good when you see good fruit coming from it." In response to this, a good friend had the following to say that I found very helpful:

In these situations a good question to ask is: what would it take to not trust leadership anymore? What would in your mind be the last straw and break your trust with leadership?

If you can answer that question honestly and then look at what has happened objectively you may be surprised at what you have allowed for the sake of "the fruit on the field".

And perhaps that is the answer: what if the fruit on the field is actually bad?

But what would make it bad? What if there's only ONE Believer? Is that still good fruit? Of course it is, but is it enough to excuse lying? Would all these lies be ok still for ONE? What about two? If there's 10 is it okay to lie? 100? 1000? 10,000? When is it ok to lie for the sake of those who are coming to know Christ?

Are believers permitted to lie without repentance as long as what they are doing leads to the lost being saved?

What does Jesus say?

You will know them [false prophets] by THEIR fruits. Does He mean their "fruits on the field"—their works? Or does He mean their own "fruits of righteousness"?

Look what John said to the religious leaders:

"Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Is it possible that Jesus cares about the fruit of people's character and not as much about the fruit of their work? Can He not do His work of reaching the lost BETTER with those who also have fruits of repentance and righteousness in their own lives?

If we make room for lying, are we doing good or harm ultimately to God's kingdom? And ought not we (out of all men), who are part of the household of God, stand up against the sin of lying?

"And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."

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