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THUMB SUCKERS

 

By Coach Dave Daubenmire
June 5, 2008
NewsWithViews.com

The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; Ezekial 34.

I love men of God, bold, unwavering, and unwilling to compromise. I know many. I especially love it when a pastor fits that mold. I love many of them and, believe it or not, many of them love me, too.

A coach and pastor are kindred spirits. They both deal with people, exhort people to be more than they think they can be, and take the heat during bad times. A good pastor/coach is not afraid of criticism. Some of my greatest growth has occurred when a friend was honest with me.

God bless the real shepherds. You are heroes! I hear from them often. Several encouraged me to write this piece.

But the hireling is a different story. He is more dangerous than the Devil because he gives the sheep a sense of security that does not exist. Sadly, hirelings fill many of our pulpits. It is to them that I write.

No wonder we are in the mess we are in. If you would have read some of the email that I received in response to Sheep Without Shepherds, you would know what I mean. Where in the world did all of these hyper-sensitive pastors come from, anyway? What makes them immune to criticism?

I know I make other Christians nervous. I’m not always sure why that is and to be honest with you, I wish everyone liked me. But, that’s not the way things are and I've learned to live with that fact. As Frank Sinatra sang, “I Gotta Be Me.”

“You are like the thing in the middle of the washing machine….the agitator…” Pastor Greg wrote. “You slap us around real good, shake us all up, and send us off with our heads spinning. I haven’t figured out yet if I like it or not, but I do have to admit you knock the starch out of us.”

If he thinks my writing is biting, I wonder if he has ever listened to my radio show Pass The Salt: Talk Radio With a Sting? Tune in for a listen, but I warn you, it is salty…not sugary. Some like it, some don’t; but even my detractors would have to admit that it adds a bit of spice to their mundane form of Churchianity. Check it out. It’s free.

Many of the emails I received were from some of the why-are-you-so harsh pastors, “If you knew how hard our job was…yada yada, yada.” I’m not sure what they mean by hard. It certainly isn’t manually challenging --- although constantly side-stepping the Truth might make one nimble on his feet! I assume they mean the people-pleasing part of the job is challenging. Wiping noses does tend to wear one out.

But I don’t feel sorry for them. For many people, life is hard, not just for pastors, and it seems to me that things would be a lot easier on everyone if the pastor taught the sheep how to fend for themselves rather than wiping the sheeps’ noses as he tells them how brave they are. I know, I know, I am so judgmental.

Disclaimer: I used to tell my football players, “If I ever call you a bunch of sissies, don’t take it personally…unless you are a sissy. If you are a sissy, listen extra closely.” (I’m not speaking to every pastor, but if the shoe fits…)

Don’t forget, I spent a long career as a coach. Every decision I made was second-guessed by somebody. It is the nature of the job. I never went home and whined to my wife and kids about how hard the job was, or how harsh the fans were, or that no one appreciated me. The scoreboard didn’t lie. Nobody cared how hard my job was -- they just expected us to win. I forged the boys into men. I decided if someone was going to be upset with my decisions it would be them, not me. I found that you sleep a lot better when you stand up for what you believe.

Strange isn’t it, The Devil and his acolytes aren’t trying to be liked, they’re playing to win. Our team cowers in the corner in the face of criticism and whines. If you can’t take the heat get another line of work.

“Go suck your thumb,” I found myself telling more than one of the pew-sitters (fans). “I’d love to see your job performance judged live by 4,000 people every Friday night. Leading men ain’t no job for wimps. My job requires that the players perform and, unfortunately, too many of the players act like their mom and dad. I don’t have time for thumb-suckers.” (I got a little nicer after I was saved.)


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So, how is your team doing, Pastor? Are you committed to fighting for Truth or are you trying to be nicer than Jesus? At least he upset some tables…in the church I might add.

Tired of the stress? Tell the sheep to grow up. It’s Scriptural, you know? Sorry, I have no sympathy for men who want to wipe noses for a living. That’s what women are for. (Sorry, had to say it!) You won’t be nearly as stressed if you fight over Truth rather than over the color of the carpet in the sanctuary. The enemies of Christianity are training their sons to be warriors while Christians teach our sons how to get in touch with their feelings. They are learning to cut our throat as we learn to turn our cheek.

Look folks, God is a man. Sorry if this doesn’t fit your emerging theology but God is the Father, NOT our mother. He is masculine. (My dad can beat up your dad!)

Whatever happened to men in the pulpits? Where did we get this current batch of nurses? (Now, now…if the shoe fits…) “Oh, Coach, you are sooo mean.”

Here is what I don’t get. Where did it become off limits to challenge a pastor? Oh, I know the Scripture “Saying, Touch not mine anointed,” but that begs a different question. How do we know who is anointed and who is not? I promise you there are many pastors who are not anointed of God. Jesus called them hirelings, those who are just in it for the paycheck.

I think it is time we called them out. What if I told them I was anointed to rebuke them? Presumptuous, you might say, or a bit arrogant? Maybe so. But I’m just a fan in the bleachers watching a lousy performance and pointing my fingers at the coach. Seems to me the one’s who want to criticize me are the same ones who allowed this mess to develop. They probably criticize the football coach on Friday nights at their local high school game.

So, I wrote a commentary challenging the “shepherds” and you would have thought I committed blasphemy. Where do these guys get off? Darkness is swallowing up this nation and the “shepherds” get mad at me because I spoke some “harsh” words about their performance. Put your armor on, Brother, there is a war a-raging for the souls of men. You are supposed to be on the front lines. Suck it up!

They’d never make it as a football coach.

One of those pompous fellows sent me an email telling me that “It is fanatics like you that give Christians a bad name.” (I fought off the urge to say “go suck your thumb, you Pharisee.”) But he nailed the problem. Too many shepherds ARE more worried about how Christians LOOK rather than defending the Truth. Jesus didn’t operate on polls and He was called the Rock of Offense for thumb-sucking sakes! The folks IN THE CHURCH killed him!

I only wish they fought evil as much as they fought me.

During my coaching career I saw many a player wilt under the pressure of the battle. Never once did we run into the huddle and apologize to them for pushing them so hard. When they felt like quitting we reminded them what they were fighting for, we challenged their manhood, encouraged them to fight. No crying in baseball! Watch this! (Caution: Language)

So now I have hurt the feelings of some pastors. I didn’t give them the honor they deserve. Says who? Honor isn’t given, honor is earned. Leadership is an activity, not a position. Paul didn’t say to give honor to everyone. He said "Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour." Maybe if some of them rendered fear to the Lord they would be more deserving of honor. It seems to me that Paul made honor conditional.

Buck up, Pastor. Tighten your belt and earn your meal money. You are a servant of the Lord, a General in the Army of God, God’s ambassador here on the earth. Get your thumb out of your mouth and pick up a few stones.

To quote William Wallace, Scottish freedom fighter: There's a difference between us. You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom. And I go to make sure that they have it.

Vince Lombardi said, "Coaches who can outline plays on a blackboard are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate."

The Apostle Paul said it this way. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

We need you, Pastor, more than you will ever know. You are not getting the job done. Getting mad over what I write does not change that fact. Your team is unprepared for the battle.

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I agree with Charles Finney: "If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discernment, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in Christianity, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it."

Maybe he didn’t know how hard the job of a pastor was.

Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?

Get your thumb out of your mouth. Lead, follow, or get out of the pulpit.

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Coach Dave Daubenmire, founder and President of Pass The Salt Ministries www.ptsalt.com and Minutemen United www.minutemenunited.org, is host of the high octane Pass The Salt radio show heard in Columbus, Ohio.

In 1999 Coach Daubenmire was sued by the ACLU for praying with his teams while coaching high school in Ohio. He now spends his energy fighting for Christian principles in the public domain.

E-Mail: coach@ptsalt.com


 

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But the hireling is a different story. He is more dangerous than the Devil because he gives the sheep a sense of security that does not exist. Sadly, hirelings fill many of our pulpits. It is to them that I write.