My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. ~ James 2:1
READING: James 2:1-11
In context, James addresses the dangers of favoring rich believers over poor ones. But church planters do well to apply this conscientiously toward everyone who comes to their baby church. Especially in the early days, when core group members and new converts are getting to know one another, the pastor and his wife hold enormous power to elevate one and “demote” another in the newly forming group. Any hint of personal favoritism has a destructive effect on this fragile new church.
It didn’t take me long to discover that the women were always watching me, the pastor’s wife, if only subconsciously, and many were keeping strict tally of what I did for whom. More than one woman has left in a huff because of some perceived inequity. This social dynamic is true of women the world over.
Consequently, I’ve hammered out several personal ground rules, offered only to spur your thinking and adaptation within your context. Around here, in-home parties to sell products proliferate. I don’t attend any because I can’t attend all. Also, although I’m a weaver, I stopped making hand-woven gifts for church-sponsored baby and wedding showers because I can’t realistically weave a gift for every baby and bride.
At congregational gatherings, I take care to greet every woman warmly and attentively, and avoid chatting longer with ladies I privately like better. I don’t habitually sit with any regularly-attending woman. If a solitary woman visits, I may sit with her once or twice, but quickly introduce her around helping to jump-start her friendships with other church women.
It’s wiser and more Christ-like to deliberately wield our God-given influence to welcome newcomers into the group and to help social misfits feel included.
Father, Alert me to any hint of partiality. May I use my unique position to bless others. Amen.
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