I once was an associate to a popular pastor in a large church. A big mistake that I never repeated. However, I learned a lot about “playing it safe.” The game has several rules that I broke and continue to break today. The reason is that God did not call anyone to “play it safe.”
Nevertheless, “playing it safe” is considered a necessary paradigm to advance one’s career. About the career thingy, I’m not interested in that either. One of my friends disinvited me as a speaker for a large event because he believed one of my beliefs would create a problem. He remarked that he did not want to build someone’s career that he might not agree with. I thought, “I don’t have one of those (career).”
To someone who is called by God unto a position, he or she does not seek a career or a carefully crafted image to protect by compromise or “wise diplomacy.” Certainly, there is room for tact, and we should not be perceived as scurrilous and carnal individuals. But Christ made Himself of no reputation (Philippians 2:7). He certainly did not become a man of ill repute but took on the form of a servant.
That is what a man or woman of God is—a servant, not only to people but to God. That is not “playing it safe.” They put their lives in the crosshairs of gossip hunters, pointy fingers, tongues on fire with bile and bitterness, and nowadays, weaponized Social Media. Our “safe space” can only be accessed on our knees. Otherwise, we do not have a “safe” place on the frontline of God’s will.
However, I have friends and acquaintances in so-called ministry that do not wish to publicly associate with individuals like me. That doesn’t bother me in the slightest. We are identified equally by the people we associate with and the ones who will have nothing to do with us. I only mention it because of the reason why they take such a position. The reason is that it is not “safe” to associate with someone who undiplomatically rebukes heretics and exposes heresy. They reason that they can do greater good by “accentuating the positive.”
Of course, there is nothing positive about a congregation that has not a clue about the most clever deception in history and the deceivers that foment it. So they read Richard Rohr, Ann Voscamp, Beth Moore, Sarah Young, Rick Warren, et al, that they believe were sent by God with new revelations. They watch movies such as “The Shack” and believe it is a marvelous depiction of truth. Many of them do not know the difference between New Apostolic Reformation heretics and true servants of God. They cannot detect the apostasy in Joel Osteen or the wolf spirit in Kanye West. Thus, they rejoice when demoniacs invade and revel in a Conference of apostate individuals demonstrating Satan’s “lying signs and wonders” show.
Innumerable ones are being gradually drawn into the great apostasy and some of them, including most of their offspring, are inextricably bound in deception, but their pastor “played it safe.”
Because he “played it safe,” he avoided association with bombastic individuals, never contradicted a heretic, and preached mushy sermons with themes that did nothing more than placate boredom. He made it to retirement or is on that path. Congratulations are not in order.
Retirement? I cannot find that word or concept in the Scriptures. Certainly, as I’m aging I am aware that offers to speak at churches or conferences will be fewer. The fact is, even today with my 71st birthday a couple of weeks away, invites to preach or speak at events are few. I’m okay with that, but it doesn’t mean I have retired. I’m busier than ever. Retirement is something I do at the end of the day. I re-fire in the mornings.
I was privileged and blessed to have godly old pastors in congregations that I pastored. They did not stop ministering when age caught up with them, but simply found other ways to stay busy in God’s service. They told me stories about their past that was evidence they did not “play it safe.” Some of them, as was I, were excommunicated from churches for the “no-no” of preaching against the wickedness that influential leaders were guilty of.
“Safe” was not an option even after having to uproot their families and move to other towns or cities. They continued preaching truth until the congregations wanted younger men, “ so that we can reach the young people.” Okay, reach them with truth—not with a man, young or old, that “plays it safe.”
I do not doubt that these “safe” players are compromisers that can build churches numerically and structurally, and provide a “safe” place for compromised professing Christians to attend. No one is going to experience the unpleasantness of conviction. They will never know that they do not have enough “oil” to honestly sing, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” They will fall like walls with untempered mortar when the storm fully arrives.
We are in a very deadly and harsh period. We should be training and equipping the Believers to not only survive but to stand with God’s complete armor and push back against encroaching evil. Church meetings should not be primarily social events, but gatherings where the Believers can hear the unvarnished truth about the state of Christianity and what is necessary to overcome and endure.
They do not need “play it safe” pastors, but firebrands that are not afraid of people’s opinions, or of rejection, or of being thought uncouth and brash. They need men that are so spontaneously obedient to the Holy Spirit that nominal professing Christians and hirelings avoid them.
God is not safe for sinners. He intends to kill them by a cross or by the second death in hell. Satan certainly is not safe since he wishes the eternal destruction of every soul.
There is only one safe place—in God’s will and raised in newness of life. Being there may make you too unsafe for association by friends, family, and even professing Christians. But when thick darkness fully covers this earth, it will not matter to you how many rejections or exclusions you experienced. You will be eternally grateful that you were accepted in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:6)