The Players Association and search committees...
"He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep" (John 10:12-15).
(Tim) Last night I read an article about the sea-change in compensation that came during the seventies. Before then, stars--corporate executives, investment bankers, and baseball players, for instance--were paid reasonable amounts of money and couldn't simply tell their employers what they required. Then things changed.
Marvin Miller, a labor organizer, came to baseball's Players Association and told them it wasn't to their benefit simply and cheerfully to receive what baseball clubs' owners offered. But baseball was a gentleman's sport and the players didn't want a man representing them who might make waves. They were comfortable being told what was what, and not knowing what went on behind the screen.
As Miller tells the story, one time in a meeting early in his work with the Players Association, a "player stood up and hesitantly asked a question...'We know that you have been working for unions for most of your adult life, and we gather from what general managers and club presidents and owners and league presidents and the commissioner's office are telling us that they don't like you. So what we want to know is, can you get along with these people? Or is this going to be a perpetual conflict?'"
And Miller's answer? "I think I can get along with most people. But you have to remember that labor relations in this country are adversarial. The interests of the owners and your interests are diametrically opposed on many things, and you can't hold up as a standard whether they like me. I'm going to go further. If at any time during my tenure here you find there's a pattern of owners and owners' officials singing my praises, you'd better fire me. I'm not kidding."
As I read, my mind turned to search committees and their questions of pastoral candidates.
When it's all said and done, most search committees want to know the same thing the baseball players wanted to know: "We know the hypocrites, worldlings, and wolves don't like you. So what we want to know is, can you get along with these people? Or is this going to be a perpetual conflict?"
And Miller's answer is perfect for the man of God contemplating--not a chaplaincy, but the shepherding of God's flock: "I think I can get along with most people. But you have to remember that the heart of pastoral ministry is adversarial. The interests of worldlings and wolves and your interests are diametrically opposed on many things, and you can't hold up as a standard whether they like me. I'm going to go further. If at any time during my tenure here you find there's a pattern of worldlings singing my praises, you'd better fire me. I'm not kidding."
Of course, this is the one thing you will never ever ever hear taught at any academic seminary that depends for its livelihood on finding pastoral calls for its graduates. The true curriculum of every academic seminary with a string of Ph.Ds living off the fat of the land is that conflict is wrong, and if it ever comes into your church, you are an utter failure.
Like Luther, Calvin, Edwards, and Lloyd-Jones.
Like the Apostle Paul.
In many churches, the one thing required of the pastor is that he be vigilant in opposing any work of the Holy Spirit that might make a mess or cause a ruckus.