I’ve learned a great spiritual lesson from the series, “Lord of the Rings,” that I pray will guide and protect me, my wife and children, and the people I lead at Transformation Church.
In this epic story, Sméagol kills a friend for a special ring that had been made by the Dark Lord, Sauron. This ring has the power to control all other rings. As Sméagol embraces the ring and its cunning allure, he is transformed over time into the tortured, disfigured soul named Gollum.
If we allow the “ring” to seduce and deceive us, we become tortured, disfigured souls. We’ll find ourselves doing things that we would’ve never imagined we would do. We’ll get hurt. Our families will get hurt. The people we lead will get hurt. And worst of all, the glory of God will be diminished in our lives.
Following are five signs that we’re in danger of being allured by the “ring.” Under each point I’ve listed a suggestion to help guard our hearts.
(1) We’re in danger when we surround ourselves with people who are impressed with us.
People who are impressed us with will rarely, if ever, tell us “No.” They will rarely, if ever, challenge us. In essence, our inner circle is formed by “Yes” -men and -women. As the famous saying goes, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
To guard my heart, God has blessed me with confident, capable leaders with whom I can lead and who lead me. They will tell me “No” and challenge me often.
(2) We’re in danger when we find we only have time to meet with people of influence or wealth.
In essence, we’re saying, “I only have time for people who can influence and finance the/my vision.” This is a form of spiritual prostitution and very unlike Jesus.
Believe me, I get it. As much as I’d like to, I simply can’t meet with everyone. That’s why we’ve developed the Transformation Church Care Team, of which I’m a member. But each month, I make sure my schedule has slots open for care and counsel to “whomever.”
I guard my heart by being accessible.
(3) We’re in danger when we think our staff, servant leaders, and community of believers belong to us.
We say words like “my staff” or “my church.”
No. We lead and serve Jesus’ church. And the staff is Jesus’ staff, which we have the privilege of blessing and being blessed by, as we journey towards maturity in Christ together.
To guard my heart, I try to consistently say “our staff” and “our church.”
(4) We’re in danger when we’re no longer approachable, and no longer interact with the congregation.
Instead of being a shepherd, we act more like a CEO of a business called a church.
If I hear another pastor say, “Ministry would be great if it weren’t for the people,” I may go Evangelism Linebacker on him. Ministry IS the people.
To guard my heart, I love people. I counsel people. I have the honor of going on hospital visits. I want to smell like the sheep I’m called to care for.
(5) We’re in danger when we think people exist only to serve us.
To guard my heart, I want to embody Jesus’ leadership model as displayed in John 13, when Jesus put on a servant’s towel and washed the feet of His disciples.
Marinate on that.