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What if the 'leadership commitment' isn't taken seriously?

Submitted: 10/28/2005
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Question: In the church I currently attend (apostolic), there is a practice of signing a committment to adhere to certain standards of lifestyle, behavior, and dress if you are to be used for teaching, singing, etc. The problem I have with it is that it appears to be a meaningful thing but it's really not because it's obvious many of these people sign it then go on their merry way totally disregarding what they've agreed to. What's more is the so-called 'authority' does nothing to correct this. Occasionally, these people are honored for their dedication in service. What is up with this? How do I explain such things to my children? Is this pleasing to God? Do I have a responsibility to do something about this? Realistically, if I were to say anything, I think I'd be labelled as someone who stirs up trouble and questioning the authority of the church. Then, handed my walking shoes. I pray things will change but I pray more fervently that the Lord will move in the hearts of men who have the biblical model to come to my city and plant a church. There are others here that are longing for pure religion too.

Answer: The first point we would make is, those who are abiding by the standards they have committed to should continue to do so, regardless of what others may or may not be doing. Just because some don't keep their word does not make it okay for everyone to be dishonest. Personal integrity comes first.

The second thing is to recognize that it is the responsibility of leadership to deal with those who are not living up to their commitments. Sometimes leaders are patient with people in trying to get them to follow the standards. It is often difficult to differentiate between patience and indifference. It is therefore best to give the benefit of the doubt. Of course, if the situation continues for a protracted period of time with no change, this may indicate indifference, or perhaps passivity, or even perhaps fear.

Any member of an assembly has a perfect right to ask about how seriously the commitment is intended to be taken and to suggest modifications. He also has a right to make known to the leadership if a person is willfully disregarding their commitment. Of course, the repercussions of such a step must be weighed out and considered with much prayerfulness. In some circumstances it may be best to just leave the situation alone.

On the other hand, Paul warned, 'A little leaven leavens the whole lump.' We therefore ought to consider the challenging words of Henry Ward Beecher, who said, 'The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.' In some cases the Lord may want a person to stand up for what is right, regardless of the consequences.