Last night as yet another megachurch was shaken to its core by the fall of its well-known pastor (or stepping down, as he might prefer it be called), Christian leaders I hold in highest respect made their way to Louisville, Kentucky for the Together for the Gospel 2018 conference. I cannot adequately express how profoundly these pastors have impacted my life and spurred my spiritual development. I continually read their books, articles, and tweets. I listen to their sermons and podcasts. I love and appreciate them as brothers in Christ and authorities in the church.
But this morning I am praying.
I look at them and I see so many Davids — men after God’s own heart, shepherds over flocks, rulers over small kingdoms called their churches, full of beautiful words of truth proclaiming the greatness of our God. Undoubtedly, there’s an auditorium full of Davids to be found in Louisville this week.
But please, can someone find Nathan?
You see, these men are so much like David in their love for God and their roles as shepherds in the church, but they are like him also in their human, fallible condition. Like him, they are not immune from sin nor its effects nor the temptation to deal with it by covering up. Like him, they can fall prey to the desire to add sin upon sin to protect their reputations even under the guise of protecting the church. And like him, they can inadvertently harm the ones they are called to lay their very lives down to protect.
Nathan, where are you?
As my brothers and leaders gather in Louisville this week, how I pray they will not merely puff themselves up with marvelous words, rather I beg our gracious God to bring agonizing sorrow. May they not thank God this week that they are not like the man whose ministry was left in shambles last night, but instead be struck with conviction for not loving this man and one another deeply enough to be Nathan. As surely as we need Davids, we need Nathans all the more. We need leaders who will love one another deeply enough to look each other in the eye and say, “Brother, You. Are. Wrong.”
As my brothers and leaders gather to equip themselves for guiding their people to the Cross, how I pray they fall to their knees at the very sight of it. May they become freshly struck by Christ’s charge to Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?…Shepherd my sheep.” May they grasp the truth that the proclamation of the crucified and risen Savior is best found in their laying themselves down in fierce protection and love of the sheep in their charge. May they not circle wagons to protect one another when sheep lie bleeding, rather may Nathans rise from among them to admonish them that godly sorrow and true repentance must start with them. May they never be found guilty of treating wolves as sheep, nor sheep as wolves. Instead may they fight to the death to protect the weak and the suffering in their care.
How I pray for my brothers and respected leaders in Louisville this week. I pray for renewed vision, powerful conviction, humble repentance, fresh compassion, and deep, deep love to fall upon them in a way that will light the church on fire with the power of the Gospel of the Christ who died to save it. Oh, how I pray for it.
Nathan, are you there?
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” 2 Samuel 12:7a