1. Don't compete with other members of the tribe. Ted faded out of his church because he constantly clashed with Gene. It didn't seem right to Ted that Gene was made an elder. He himself had been in the church a long time. Why hadn't he been promoted?
Nobody wins when carnal competition kills the spirit of unity. That's why Paul warned Timothy to mark those who have "an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk ... and constant friction" (1 Tim. 6:4-5, NIV). The health of any spiritual tribe begins with a love that draws them together into one heart and vision to succeed together.
2. Flow with your tribal elders. Will and Donna became enraged over the direction the worship pastor gave them for their dance ministry and began a subtle campaign against her in the church. Why couldn't they dance when and where they felt led? These man-made rules were grieving the Holy Spirit, they said. They eventually left, pulling their daughters out of the youth group and away from the friends they loved.
It may not be a popular truth, but the Bible teaches us to fully cooperate with our spiritual leaders--and for good reason. "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls" (Heb. 13:17, NKJV). Having a balanced relationship with a healthy Christian leader is key to our survival. Resisting them is resisting God, and it opens the door to hardships (see Rom. 13:1-2).
When we have a disagreement with a leader, we should determine if it is a matter of essential biblical truth (such as the deity of Christ) or just a difference of opinion (such as what color the sanctuary chairs should be). If a leader is in violation of God's Word, humbly appeal to him. But when it comes to mere differences of opinion, the Lord expects us to cooperate for the sake of unity and our own spiritual health.
3. Avoid having unreasonable expectations of the tribe. Pam joined a church with high hopes that this would be the place where, finally, her deepest needs would be met--but within a year she announced that she was upset because the leaders never seemed to have enough time for her. She missed the message of David, who said, "My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him" (Ps. 62:5).
Sometimes people get disappointed when they discover the church can't meet all their needs. The truth is, the church isn't supposed to meet all our needs. Only God can do that. Instead of expecting too much of others, we need to remember that people are not our source. Let's put our trust in God. He never disappoints.
The Ultimate Immunity Challenge
Survivor contestants are challenged to win immunity--a guarantee that they cannot be voted out of the game by their opponents at Tribal Council. In the local church version of Survivor, we are challenged to position ourselves to be immune to the attacks of our spiritual enemy. One of the ways we can do this is by understanding how to deal with the issue of offenses.
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