This week’s TAI piece comes again from Alan Hughes -- the Safety Director for Next Level Church in Ft. Myers, Florida. His website is www.safeatchurch.info. This is not the first time I have used some of Alan’s work for a TAI and I am sure it will not be the last.
Are you Protecting From This Threat?
By: Alan Hughes, 7/23/14
Reprinted with permission
I came out of a protective services background. Early in my career, much of my time was spent on close protection details for diplomats and other government officials. Whether it’s protecting a president or a famous actor, the “big four” (assassination, kidnapping, injury and embarrassment) are the main focus of your mission. Lately I’ve spent some time thinking about a fifth threat that we need to protect our pastors (and church) from as well.
Before I address it, let me share a little “behind the scenes” with you. This wasn’t an easy article for me to write. Normally, writing comes easily to me. I have something on my heart or mind, I sit down and the words flow. That wasn’t how it went this time. I knew what I wanted to say, but when I looked at the blank document and the flashing cursor, the words didn’t flow.
If you’ve read any of my past posts, you know that my writing isn’t steeped in theology. Theology is not my area of expertise. Yet there is a persistent threat to your pastors (and your church staff as a whole) that demands more than a physical defense, it demands a spiritual defense, and we need to talk about it.
Recent conversations with two pastors at my church really got me thinking about this topic. We don’t live in a spiritually neutral world. Satan attacks us on a regular basis and our leaders are under an increased attack because of their influence. During these conversations, I realized that I although I had a responsibility to protect our pastors, I wasn’t doing everything I could because I wasn’t properly treating this threat as an attack.
In protective services, the best way to deal with an attack is to first prepare for it, then proactively make it difficult for the attack to occur. In the spiritual sense, it’s not really any different.
First, we prepare. Not with a workout or target practice, but with our spiritual lives. Spending time studying the Bible, praying and growing in our faith is the preparation we need for this defense. As a Christian, you are already being attacked. If you decide to place yourself in the line of fire here, you may find yourself under increased attack. Don’t go into battle unprepared.
Second, we defend. This is
the critical component I believe many of us may miss. The Bible tells us to
pray for our leaders (see 1 Timothy 2:1-2), but I submit to you that we must do
so aggressively and specifically, not passively.
So how do we defend? How do we go on the spiritual offensive?
1) Be aware of what they face:
Attacks on our pastors can come in many forms. Temptation, distraction, self-doubt, discouragement, falsehoods against them, physical ailments, family issues or just burn-out. Sometimes it is an external source, like a media article that criticizes them. Sometimes the conduit is internal to the church, such as a disgruntled member or gossip.
2) Ask them:
In your protective role, you
often have access to your pastoral staff in a quiet setting. Just briefly ask “how
can I pray for you this week?” You may already know that answer or
there may be something you hadn’t considered. Just ask.
3) Be faithful:
Don’t just “fire and forget”. While attacks may ebb and flow, they’re not predictable like tides are. Don’t think in terms of cycles, think in terms of ambush. The way to prevent being ambushed is to be constantly vigilant. Similarly, you must be spiritually vigilant as well, consistently praying protectively.
4) Don’t go into battle alone:
One Secret Service agent doesn’t protect the President, a team does. One person can’t surround him effectively. Enlist other like minded Christians who will agree with you in prayer to surround your leaders with a shield of protection.
So back to the beginning, where I talked about how I struggled with this article…. why did I struggle? Was it an attack using self-doubt or fear? I believe so. If Satan is willing to make the effort to interfere with a little blog like mine, imagine what he’s willing to do to interfere with your pastors and your church. Defend them.
Think About it:
Ø The pastor who married my wife and I in 1978, found himself in an affair with a woman in the church two years later. The first pastor I ever did executive protection for was publicly shamed later for discovery he had been involved with methamphetamines and gay sex. The first church I ever spoke to about our shooting was later hit because of not only a youth pastor’s predation on a minor, but 5 members of the church staff were arrested because they knew about it and kept it from law enforcement.
Ø This is not rare stuff. Our leaders are under constant attack from many angles and sources. As with other crimes – don’t say, “It won’t happen here”.