We all need someone to watch our back

Published 1:47 pm Friday, July 19, 2019

By Michael Brooks
Pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster

Gabriel Byrne portrayed Dr. Paul Weston, a therapist on the TV program “In Treatment.” I caught a few episodes several years ago when our cable company gave a preview and later rented the series. I watched in rapt attention as Dr. Weston probed the issues and brought about breakthroughs for his patients.

But Paul was often clueless about himself. For example, his patient, Laura, was a temptress. Paul knew this, and knew he should refer her to another counselor, but he wouldn’t do so. And Paul and his wife, Kate, didn’t communicate. A little tenderness could perhaps have healed their marriage, but neither was willing to offer it.

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Paul did have the good sense to talk with an old friend and therapist, Gina, who made an insightful comment.

“Paul,” she said, “we often see clearly the patterns in the lives of others but not our own.”

I’m quite sure this is true for us all.

I heard Dr. Jimmy Allen a number of years ago teach about the Christian soldier Paul described in Ephesians 6: the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit. Allen insisted this soldier was protected save in one area.

“This soldier is vulnerable to an attack from the rear,” he said. “He needs someone to watch his back.”

I thought about this lately when a woman asked me about an issue in her church. Her pastor is apparently a bit out of touch over a matter that has potential of becoming a larger issue.

The Ministering to Ministers Foundation has recommended for years that every pastor have a “feedback group” in his church.

This is an informal group of three or four respected church members who know the pulse of the congregation.

MTM says the pastor should bring this group together occasionally and ask, “How are things going? How am I doing?”

Of course, it takes a confident pastor to submit to some of the possible judgments, but the pastor is wise if he listens to his leaders. They watch his back. The pastor needs feedback, but the rest of us do too.

One way we do this is with a support group. Ideally, that’s what a Sunday School class is — a group of believers who love, support and pray for each other. Sometimes believers join their fellow church members at another time and in another place during the week for Bible study, sharing and prayer. Some do this with a group outside their own church. We all need support in dealing with blind areas in our lives.  We must have some folks who love us and tell us the truth, even when it’s painful. They watch our back.