“Quick, grab all the patients from the hospital and get them out of here. We have a war to fight!”

How would you react to a statement such as this if you were an attending nurse or doctor? Or what would you think if you were a member of the staff who knew the sickness and dis-ease of so many of the folks in your building?

Let me guess. There would be a sense of awe accompanied by disgust. The idea of dragging the sick into battle may not only seem unfair to them, but you would have to agree that it would unfair to the rest of the people in battle.

Imagine a war where you are on a side with people who clearly aren’t prepared for battle. You went through boot camp, years of training and have battle before under a more experienced commander. Now it is your turn. You are the leader and many people’s lives are in your hands. Would you knowingly bring men or women who you know were not equipped to handle the schemes of your enemy? Even little league sports coaches avoid that mistake, do they not?

Yet, that is what many of us do when we go into battle with other Christians – or at least we are expected to. People want to accompany me into battle who are not ready.

How often, dear Christian, have you been so excited that someone wanted to accompany you on your outreach that you allowed them to participate in a way in which they were not ready? But my problem is not so much with the faithful men leading teams. I have found that most teams led by mature men are functioning well and they properly screen participants.

Teams which are led by the immature, well, they are reading this blog anyway, so I can’t help them. If you find yourself leading teams and you realize you probably need leadership yourself, click here and contact me.

I once heard my pastor describe a church as “like a hospital.” I don’t remember exactly what he said, but the gist of the conversation was that there are people of varying levels of sickness and who are more or less recovered from the illness. People will have different levels of strength and need, and some will relapse.

The concern I have is this: I’ve had friends (and myself) who have been criticized for being too critical of others within Christianity. We are “too doctrinal” or focus too much on “holiness” and not enough on “love.” My frustration with this is that just because many of our actions mimic those of some pharisees, that doesn’t necessarily imply that our motivations are the same.

Let me put it to you this way. I know that many people will focus on doctrine and holiness and then you’ll find out later they are really adulterers and idolaters and you can explain away all their teaching as prideful, etc. These people are deserving of condemnation, as would I be if that were the case.

But my point is this: I am not one of those people, by God’s grace. I am a missionary in God’s army and when I go into battle, I am afraid that there are people who think that my attempts to develop others are errant. Out of love for those I exhort, and other faithful brothers and sisters who are going into the battle, I feel a responsibility to only bring people with us into the battle who I can trust can wield the necessary defensive and offensive weapons. We do not need things like friendly fire to hurt us, or mistakes which can be predicted due to lack of proper training.

Here’s my point. If you cannot take criticism when we are in a bible study, or you cannot be corrected when you preach in a church setting or give a devotion, or you refuse to listen to a brother’s exhortation or concern in a one on one setting, then you will not do those things on the battlefield of the war for souls. I love you and I wish the best for you. You may be a dear soldier who is now an amputee, or a baby, still in the neonatal unit.

You may even be someone who would be expected to be more mature by now. Maybe you were in battle before, with a different leader and you think you are quite decorated. But if you belong in the hospital because you are sick or injured, get that fixed before you leave. Get checked out by those who are qualified to evaluate your condition and whose very lives may depend on you someday.

These thoughts were inspired by a recent conversation with a good friend of mine. While we both love and wish to minister to saved sinners in the local church, my intention was simply to point out the necessity of spiritual growth and maturity and to defend the need for discernment (discrimination) in the realm of team building for outreach.

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