Last year the video featured above went viral around the internet. There was outrage from both people within and outside of the body of Christ. The fact that a pastor could so callously scold his congregants about anything from falling asleep to running the video booth shocked many. Judging by the way in which he sets his sights on individuals one by one to air his frustrations, he had clearly been holding these thoughts and feelings back for quite some time. This then brings us to the point of this post.
While Pastor Jim Standridge was indeed out of line for publicly lambasting parishioners by name, he really was not so different from most of us out here. In human eyes, what separates him from most of us is he openly divulged his feelings about other people. But in the eyes of God, most of us are just like him. Why? Because God looks on our hearts and not just our actions.
Jesus once said that to harbor anger towards someone is the same as murder or to look at someone with lust is the same as committing adultery. So while we may only consider someone to be sinful when actually sleeping around or unleashing wrath upon someone, God considers entertaining those thoughts without acting to be just as evil. This then leads us to some very pointed questions. How many of us carry around a load of negative feelings towards others, though we may never actually voice them? And when we approach the subject from this perspective, how many of us are really so different from Pastor Jim as far as God is concerned?
Although Pastor Jim made the clear error of saying what he was actually thinking, there is also a deeper issue at hand. Beyond the tone of the remarks themselves, the types of criticisms he is lodging at people also reveal a critical mistake regarding his ministry as a whole. The problem being, his ministry became all about him. Throughout the video he talks about how important he is and others’ failure to heed whatever he tells them. He even goes to the extent of comparing his leadership over the church to a kingdom. While he may not have said so directly, this was implicitly implied when he accuses the video booth operator of establishing a rogue kingdom in the video booth.
Every single person on this planet has a calling to some sort of ministry. While few may be called to pastoral type ministry, ministry is most simply defined as recognizing and fulfilling the needs of others. Every time we hear of a problem and wonder why someone has done nothing about it, it represents ministries someone has been called to address. But what can be an ever present temptation for any of us involved in ministry, is to make ourselves the central focus. When that happens, we leave little room for God to be in his rightful place. And when we leave no room for him as the chief focus, we are all but guaranteed to devalue the very people he sent us to serve.
By Corey Dorsey