I have a few thoughts that struck me in my thinking time this morning. I recommend just thinking. Of course we are to meditate and pray and muse on the scriptures. But I find it helpful to just stop and think about a few topics that have caught me attention.
The following are three thoughts I think I processed for consumption this morning.
- Faithfulness is the goal of the believer. Not being exceptional. This is what we should pursue faithfulness to what God has assigned up. We mail be average but that doesn’t mean mediocre Some kids give up because they can not be exceptional. I know many leaders who do not have exceptional results. I have come to think and communicate that the aim is faithfulness to God, what he has given to you and His will. And if we do that we are exceptional. I see too many leaders willing to stretch ethics to be exceptional and lose sight of our true assignment faithfulness.
- Thinking optimistically will increase your assets. That is a fact and its undeniable. And the Bible numerous times asserts that faith spoken does effect the real world. But is that all there is to success? I know many people who have lost all they have and embarrassed God while holding in there for a “word” that they are to be prosperous. I have no problem with faith orientations to life. But that is never the full recipe for life. Prosperity comes with faith, optimism, hard work, wisdom, saving and keeping a budget, skill, advice, perseverance, giving, seeing and seeking God’s will for your life. My difficulty with the faith oriented movement is its incomplete and that makes it errant in many instances.
- Pride is always a temptation for people with skill, fruit and intelligence. The last two months I have tracked with several friends the news that at least three top selling Christian authors used a service call ResultsSource. Basically through unethical and tricky means the company guaranteers a top selling book on the NYT best-selling list. It involves and elaborate scheme of making it look like large numbers of people are buying books. Perry Noble, Steve Furtick, and Mark Driscoll have all been exposed to have used this system. They were all embarrassed. Perry Noble’s group was the most open and it is clear that he profited least personally from the scheme. Furtick has used language designed to protect rather than apologize for the practice. Mark Driscoll has taken any reference to being a number one seller off his resume. One of the guys spent $186,000 of church money to buy this service, another $220,000 and it is unclear how much the third spent of church money. Bottom line is this is very close to violating the strictures of having a 501c3 status with the IRS.
- Self-promotion = pride. And pride is a sin that will disqualify you from leadership as much or more than sexual sin in many parts of the world. We tolerate it if not encourage it in our country.
- If not legally at least ethically these practices are fraud. If you go to make yourself look like a number one selling offer by any other means than anyone else it is fraud. And I think this is a moral crime.
I think it is perfectly acceptable for pastors to keep profits from their books. But they shouldn’t use church funds or staff to write or promote their books unless 100% of sales income go to the church. And they must have a employment agreement with their church that spells out their arrangement and it should be considered into their employment agreement. I know several pastors who take no salary but keep the money sales from their tapes, books and speaking gigs. I think this is just fine. But personally I think there is something innately wrong with using the church as your cash cow to promote your “ministry.”