Let me ask you a serious rhetorical question: What if you had an employee who was told up front that there were standards that had to be met at work but they just didn’t feel like doing it?
Let’s advance the question even further: What if that employee who was told that professional attire was required but they showed up in tattered jeans and a t-shirt?
Further down this employment nightmare, what if they had been shown the quality of work that was expected but they just never followed through adequately?
What would you do if you were the one entrusted with the care of business operations? I hope that you would provide them with clear redirection and, if necessary, show them the door. Termination for cause without delay. Why would you not?
When resistance to workplace standards and conditions such as those described happens in the workplace it diminishes the value of the businesses’ good name. It also works against the morale of the other employees who see someone not being held to the same standards. It can be tough, and I’ve been in those supervisory positions before, in both the military and the private sector.
Standards, conditions and expectations all matter, and if they are not actually upheld, the organization can suffer in a variety of ways.
But let me take it a step further by pointing out that there are two sides here. For one, the employer must follow through. There’s an old adage in leadership that you can’t expect what you don’t inspect. An absentee boss, or a boss that won’t give constructive feedback, is not really a boss.
The other side of that coin though is the employee who was told in advance of the expectations and requirements of the job and then gets surprised when they are enforced. In that case, one has to ask: What did they think was going to happen?
How can someone act surprised, or worse yet, indignant, when the standards that were clearly outlined in the beginning are actually upheld? It is antithetical to common sense.
Life has standards, at every turn. Actual standards once clearly defined are supposed to matter because, if they don’t matter, then we have no institutions of … well, anything.
So why then is it okay for the Christian church to keep taking it on the chin without saying anything about it? You didn’t see that question coming, did you?
Think about it: the tenets of the Christian faith, whether you are a Catholic or Protestant … whether a Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian or a Full-gospel Methabapterian ... the tenets and beliefs of the Christian faith are largely unified around the Bible as the underlying document. The Bible is the document that outlines the root basis for the Christian faith and it lays things out pretty clearly.
Yet despite this fact, at every turn Christians are shouted down as intolerant … but, we’re not.
Christians are told that we have to modify the Bible to fit today’s standards … but we won’t.
Christians are told that the standards espoused in the Bible are outdated and no longer apply … but they do.
Unfortunately, and far too often in the face of this challenge to the very fabric of Christianity, the church remains silent.
I’m not talking politics here. I am fine with churches staying out of the endorsements of candidates. That would seem fitting. But faith leaders can certainly ask candidates where they stand on the issues, and they should. Likewise, pastoral care can involve speaking into culture as a whole.
On matters of public policy, it is not likely that the church would address taxes, or fiscal policy, or international relations. But on matters that contravene the teachings of Jesus, why would the church not address them? Is there some theology that says a member of the clergy, on behalf of their flock, should not openly address egregious behavior or decidedly bad public policy?
Not that I am aware of. I believe the issue comes back to the sense that the pastoral role is often seen as one that must be quiet in the face of potential public scorn lest they cause offense. And yet offense is taken by society so often to principles of Christ-centered lifestyles, whether pastoral leadership speaks or not. So, what do they have to lose?
I’ll tell you what they stand to lose: everything.
The flock should not be left to the sole defense of the flock. That is the shepherd’s role. David said that he had killed a lion and a bear when they threatened his flock. In today’s society, the flock is being pummeled by an ever more vocal set of influences that threaten and cajole and manipulate the flock of Christianity and the church largely remains silent.
My own Pastor asked once, “What if we’re wrong? What if our faith isn’t real?” but he followed by then saying, “So what would I have lost by having lived according to a belief system that encourages love, and loyalty, and fidelity, and charity?”
But the left does not see that. In recent days, leftwing pundits have claimed that “Christian nationalism” is responsible for mass shootings … that Christians should applaud Drag Queen Story time for children … that abortion should not be questioned … that violence in the streets is acceptable.
Where is the voice of the shepherd?
In the past two years, we have seen cultural issues that could well have been addressed by faith leaders but we’re left to the secular world to deal with.
When rioters burned whole city blocks, I don’t recall hearing the clergy call for calm and say enough is enough.
When critical race theory is foisted upon students and teaches them that they were made by God as an oppressor or oppressed by virtue of their skin color, I have not heard an outcry from the Church to call that theory down specifically and remind its proponents that we are all made in the image of God and that sin comes from man, not the Creator.
When the image of the rainbow, which has been known for thousands of years as a symbol of God’s promise, is co-opted to become the symbol of LGBTQ activism, why doesn’t anyone from the church point it out?
I know and I believe that the first and foremost missions of the church as a whole are the advancement of the Kingdom of God, the tending of the souls of the flock, the care and concern for the needy and downtrodden. This is as it should be. But when culture demands that Christianity change to fit the latest trends, there should be a firm and unrelenting and very public stance from leaders of the faith that says “no.”
We are told in James 1:26 that if we believe ourselves to be religious but cannot “bridle our own tongue” then we are living a delusional life and our “religion is worthless.” I would suggest that the converse could also be true: that if we choose not to speak at the necessary time, we likewise appear to have a faith that means nothing because we will not defend it.
The faith leaders - the pastors, the clergy - should be willing to remind the world that there are standards, there are mores, there are positions of faith that mean something and that if we don’t stand by them then the faith itself becomes tattered and worn down … and, yes, to the world it becomes meaningless.
The church must speak, with love and compassion, into culture. Faith leaders, acting with wisdom and discernment must take that hard stand that will not always be popular to protect the sanctity of the faith that they’ve been called to minister. We need the church to speak out in times such as these. The flock needs to know that the Shepherd carries a stick to keep the lions and bears away from the flock. It is part of being a shepherd.
We need the Church to speak.
Phil Williams is a former State Senator, retired Army Colonel and combat veteran, and a practicing Attorney. He has served with the leadership of the Alabama Policy Institute and currently hosts Rightside Radio M-F 2-5 pm on WVNN. His column appears every Monday in 1819 News. To contact Phil or request him for a speaking engagement, go to www.rightsideradio.org. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].
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