The Fountain Day 22: The Pruning

I have thought a lot about what my response should be when people don’t receive me.  What do I do when I come into a church or friend group and my walk with Jesus is more than they can handle?  Do I water myself down to accommodate others comfort levels?  Do I just stay quiet?  Those are my natural responses because I never want to be a bother to people, but I’m discovering that is not a godly response.  It dishonors not only myself, but God.

For years, I’ve wrestled with how people do or don’t receive me.  I have taken it on myself and tried to be less.  I’ve been told by at least one pastor that I have to reign it in around the main church population because they won’t understand me.  But in this late hour, I see the time for that type of behavior is over.  It was honestly never appropriate to “reign it in”, but the church (universal) demanded it from too many of us for far too long and look where it got us.  I never should have compromised…I won’t again.

This is a pruning season. 

As we discussed yesterday…the narrow way is the way to Heaven.  Why should we assume that narrow way behavior would be widely accepted?

What’s being pruned from me in this season is a deeply rooted and ingrained fear of man, particularly pastoral leadership.  Over the years, I have been under multiple pastors who were abusive to the body they led.  Some talked negatively about everyone in their “flock”.  Others made crude jokes before heading out to lead worship or preach.  I don’t understand these types of behavior.  And, when I took an honest assessment of them and had many discussions and listening sessions with God about it, I discovered I don’t have to tolerate that, I can walk away.  Walking away doesn’t make me prideful, it doesn’t mean that I think I’m better than someone; it simply means that I am guarding my heart and mind.  Staying under leadership that is riddled with gossip, slander and inappropriateness is not healthy for anyone.  In this season, God has been really revealing to me the importance of who we are under.  I’ve spent time looking back at every pastor I’ve ever had and have been asking God if I was led to be part of their flock because He led me there, or if it was because I had some habits birthed from woundedness that needed to be resolved.  The answer for several was, woundedness. 

Let me stop for a minute to say this.  I am not saying that pastoral staff must be perfect or even the most spiritual part of their church body.  I am saying that I will no longer be participating in a church that doesn’t have a culture of honor.  Because if a pastoral staff can’t honor their flock, then they will inevitably not be honoring God. 

It’s time for God to heal a deeper part of me.  A part that suffered at the hands of earthly men and never recovered.  Even after many years of deliberate heart healing, there is more coming to the surface.  The process of heart healing happens in interesting ways.  We can be healed of many things in a season and think, “Wow!  Now I’m good, and ready to forge my way in life.”  Only to be met with another layer of needed healing years later.  Why is this?  Well, because we are often healed a layer at a time.  The ones who walk a lively walk with God, are the ones who are always willing to be healed at the next deeper level.  I am willing.  Are you?

God, I forgive every pastor that has mistreated me in the past.  I do not go to church to worship man, I go to worship You.  Help me to stay centered on that.  I rejoice in my salvation.  I long to live a life of honor.  Lead me to leadership that also lives with a high priority of honor.  Lead me to those who are not jealous leaders.  Lead me to those who are true shepherds called by You to operate as pastors.  Lead me to my flock.  Forgive me of my sins.  Thank You for the cross.  I love You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

As you read the following scripture, I want to point something out.  A vine never stops needing to be pruned.  In the same way, we never stop needing to be healed.  We also never stop learning.  These are very important qualities to remember.  The scripture following these verses goes on to remind us that if we do not remain in Christ, we will be like a branch that’s thrown away and after it withers, is thrown into the fire and burned.  We must remain willing to be transformed and pruned to stay alive in Christ.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in Me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.”  John 15:1-4