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The Lost Art of Pastoral Correction

Shepherding sometimes means loving discipline.

I can tell you right now the names of two people who no longer call themselves Christians because of my pastoral leadership. In both cases, they left church, probably angry with God and religion to this very day. In both cases, I was confronting a sin in their life. And in both cases, I had a lot to learn afterwards.

As a leader, how do you correct someone without driving them away?

Correction is necessary to the gospel. Jesus was about full, mutual, real, intense, honest relationship where sin was dealt with in the context of community. As a pastor, I've come to recognize this afresh, realizing that my role is to help bring this kind of life into my community.

But it is hard.

Three hurdles to jump

I've observed first-hand three hurdles to necessary pastoral correction.

First, we have mistakenly minimized the all-too-important relationship between what we enact as leaders and what the Spirit of God does because we were willing to do our work.

Early in my ministry, I quickly came face-to-face ...

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