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Friday, June 20, 2014

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One of the most difficult challenges of ministry is the knowledge that some decisions require transparency and some require discretion. And you better know which is which.

For instance, if you and your church council make a decision to spend quite a bit of the congregation's money on a project that you decide will be good for the church, the constitution will usually require you to have a congregational meeting, if the expenditure exceeds the budget by a set percentage. Even if it does NOT exceed the budget, and you feel justified in making this decision without congregational input, prepare yourself for a battle. The battle cry will be "Transparency, Transparency!!!"

If you visit a parishioner who is in the hospital who is suffering from an ailment and would love prayers but prefers to remain private about her or his condition, your first call when you get back to church will be to the head of the prayer chain. You will say "John is in the hospital and would like your prayers." The head of the prayer chain may respect your discretion. But don't be surprised when you receive a phone call from a "concerned member" who wants to know about John and wants a lot more information. Obviously, this is not a time for transparency.

God knows these boundaries better than we. And God knows the damage that is done when people apply the wrong principle to the wrong decision. Prayer is the common denominator in decisions that require transparency and decisions that require discretion. When I am honest with God, God will give me the wisdom to navigate my way through the gray area where transparency and discretion coexist. This gray area is the church.

Dear God, give me the wisdom to know when to speak openly and when to remain silent, when to reveal and when to conceal, when to share and when to keep things to myself. Amen.

Jeff Gross
Pastor, Living Lord Lutheran Church, Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
Master of Divinity , 1994

Matthew 10:24-39 (NRSV)

24 "A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master;
25 it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
26 "So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.
27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.
28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
30 And even the hairs of your head are all counted.
31 So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
32 "Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven;
33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.
34 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36 and one's foes will be members of one's own household.
37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it."

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.