By: Richard Gazowsky
Monday Morning Blog: Controlling The Darkness Of The Flesh – To subscribe, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the last month I’ve spent time being hospitalized and convalescing in my own home. This made it pretty much impossible for me to run my organization as I’d previously done for the last 22 years. It is in a difficult time such as this that many fine points of those you work with are revealed. I’m happy to say that I’ve seen in my son, Sunny, who is the youth pastor of the church, and in Chris Rossetti, who has temporarily taken my place as pastor, incredible displays of self-restraint in leadership. I saw the birthing of new levels of trust in those two leaders.
My son was faced with a decision regarding the church building, and also what his role was regarding certain visitors who were coming to the church. In both instances it would’ve been entirely proper for Sunny to make the decisions himself. No one would’ve questioned his actions. Instead, Sunny went to the Lord and felt God tell him that he must restrain his desire to make the decisions and present the situations to me to decide. I was amazed at his willingness to restrain himself in such a way. David said in the Bible that he refused to exercise himself in matters that were too lofty for him. To see this characteristic in my own son really impressed me.
Chris Rossetti has worked with me in the ministry for about seventeen years. During the last month he was also confronted with situations that would’ve been proper and appropriate for him to decide. Even though he felt he knew what my decision would have been, he restrained himself and at the appropriate time asked me for my advice as to what to do. As a leader I was thrilled to see both of these men showing such self-restraint. I realized that a foundation of loyalty was being forged between us that would make the structure of our whole organization strong and secure for many generations to come.
The reason I bring this subject up is because early on in my ministry I was taught by spiritual mentors around me (who appeared to be successful pastors) to do just the opposite. Their suggestions had been that whenever I saw a weakness by someone else in authority, I was to show my strength as a leader by using the opportunity to increase the power of my own church, instead of theirs. This, I was told, was entirely permissible (though it wasn’t right in a strict moral sense). I’m now finding out that the morality of an action is worth way beyond any value of advancement the action might give.
Let me explain what I’m talking about by relating a simple story that happened to me. A nearby pastor of a church was put into a place of weakness because of their personal health. Satan began to attack him, and members of his church started criticizing him for what appeared to be flaws in his ministry. Some of these parishioners started coming to my church to get away from the trouble. Though our two churches were pretty much on the same level spiritually, I felt that it would be morally wrong to accept these people as members. Instead, I received them as friends but began teaching a class about spiritual authority and how important it was for church members to submit themselves to the influence of the spiritual parents who birthed them.
Suddenly I began receiving advice, criticizing my actions, from some very influential pastors. They told me, “You should take advantage of the situation and bring the disgruntled people into your church and use them as scaffolding for a while in order to help you build up your core ministry.” By “scaffolding” they meant people who come to church temporarily but leave later on because their usefulness has passed. It was the first time I’d ever heard terms like this used by other ministers. They were talking about people’s commitments to the Lord and their relationship to church that God had sent them to!
To me this all seemed vulgar and wrong, though I realized these tactics were being adopted by many successful ministers, not to mention those who used the identical concepts in the business community. But I believe that God doesn’t use people as stepping-stones. Even if God has to use an evil king to render a decision or perform a certain duty, God is still concerned about the evil king’s life and his eternal destiny. You find this many times in the Bible. For even Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was loved by God.
Regarding the crisis of the nearby church, and the saints who were attending my congregation, after six months they all wisely decided to go back to their home church. The event that I just described to you happened over twenty years ago. I’m happy to say that one of those people is now the assistant pastor of the church, which is still successfully blooming in San Francisco. In case any of you are wondering what benefit I got out of this, I’ll tell you. My son and Chris Rossetti are perfect examples of what you get out of self-restraint: incredible loyalty within your own staff.
This week our nation has seen an incredible example of self-restraint by the Supreme Court of the United States of America. The Court chose to review a major case concerning the health care bill, and the lawyers for the administration brought before the Court three major questions. The first was the argument that the health care bill, and its mandate that everyone buy into it, was not a tax but a penalty. This point is very important to the freedoms that we have here in America because the Federal Government is restricted by the Constitution from forcing just anything it wants upon American citizens. In this case it was to purchase health care.
One of the things that make America so great is the freedom it gives citizens to say “No”, even to the government itself. Communist and socialist countries don’t have this same kind of freedom. The founders of our country perceived how dangerous it was when you give government so much power that it can force anything it wants upon the people. Then all freedom is lost. This is why the writers of the Constitution constantly admonished us that the purpose of the U.S. Constitution is to restrain the government from having unlimited power over the people. And how precious this one thing is.
The second question that the Supreme Court had to deal with was the constitutionality of the Federal Government to punish us because we choose not to buy their mandated health insurance. The answer to this question became obvious as the Court answered the question. That’s because the whole purpose of the Constitution is to stop federal and state governments from interfering with certain inalienable rights of the people. The third question presented to the Supreme Court was more intriguing than the other two combined. The administration was essentially saying, “Okay, our laws concerning health care were written incorrectly, so now we ask you, the nine Supreme Court justices, to scrutinize the 2,700 pages of the laws we passed and rewrite them so they conform to the Constitution.”
The response that the majority of Supreme Court justices gave the administration’s lawyers stunned the news media. They couldn’t understand how the conservative justices could’ve shown such judicial restraint when offered such power. The media was confused because they believe when you are given power to make a decision you just take it and do it. But the conservative justices on the Supreme Court realized that if they were to rewrite the health care law they would have begun to operate in the breakup of the balance of power that was set up by the Constitution itself. The Court has never been given the absolute power to write laws or create laws. That power alone is reserved to the executive and the legislative branches. The court is to only decide the legality of a law, but never to write, make, or issue one.
I’m sorry to say that not all of the justices held this opinion, as four of them felt that they had a right to make new laws. But thank God five of the justices understood what the framers of the Constitution meant when they created the balances of power. These justices have literally saved our country from an incredible catastrophe that could’ve sent us over a precipice that would have plummeted the whole country to the pits of governmental control. That’s what is happening now in Russia, China, and other countries that are controlled by unruly governments.
You and I have just witnessed one of the closest calls that the United States has ever faced concerning a fall of our beloved liberties. Though no guns were brandished, the results could’ve been much worse than if they were. For example, the decision whether you live or die should not be put in the hands of a governmental bureaucrat. Instead, that question rests in the hands of you and your family. This is only one example of thousands of decisions that are trying to be taken out of your family’s hands and put under the control of governmental bureaucrats ~ people you know little or nothing about, who don’t have the same belief systems you do, and who care more about their own jobs and whether or not their rule book is followed. Thank God our liberty is still preserved.
As you can see, the restraint of power many times has more ramifications than the release of power. There are so many areas in our lives where this unrecognized force is so vitally important. So think about yourself, and how many times you need to restrain your own power so true justice can be served. At first it may look like the personal payoff to you is very low. But I wish to admonish you that God sees everything, and He will reward you greatly for your restraint. His payback will be much more than you could ever wish for.
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Richard Gazowsky pastors a church in San Francisco called The Voice of Pentecost, and is also president of Christian WYSIWYG Filmworks. He has directed the films, “Guardians” and “The Roman Trilogy.”