jonathan stone's blog

. . . posts on faith and life

the sin bearer

When I lived in California I had the unique opportunity as a licensed minister of having my father as my Administrative Bishop. I am sure certain circumstances could have made this awkward. However, it was nothing but a positive experience for me. It also gave me the opportunity to learn from my father’s example certain things about leadership and integrity. Often I would be speaking with another minister in our region and something would come up about some ‘sensitive’ situation. A remark would be made along the lines of “I’m sure your father has told you about…” I was happy to be able to reply with something like this every time, “Actually, this is the first time I have heard about it.” It was always a surprise to the minister with whom I was speaking, and both of us would take a moment to admire the fact that my father was not one to speak inappropriately, even to his own son. Perhaps part of his motivation was to protect his family from ‘the dark side’ of church administration, but in the five years that he served as my Administrative Bishop I never witnessed anything that led me to believe that he was not seriously committed to confidentiality and edification in the words and subjects he chose to converse about.

I learned many lessons like this from my father. Perhaps one of the more striking ones came only months before denominational term limits forced him into reassignment. We were considering various possibilities about the development of our property at my local church. A possibility had been presented to him and he held a business meeting at our church in order to discuss it with all of the members. There was a wide variety of opinions on the possibility, and some of the opinions against it were quite strong. Since this was my church I knew where many of these individuals were coming from, what was motivating them, some of the wounds and mistrust that was driving them. I was fascinated to watch my father respond to some comments that were almost hateful. I was intrigued to see him stay calm, gracious, and differentiated, even when the comments became somewhat personal. He was never authoritarian, though he had some power within our structure to be. Yet, he was quite authoritative in his spiritual kindness and grace.

At one point I got a picture of just how sinful we are. Talking hatefully to other people, thinking we are minding the Spirit, or talking prophetically, but actually responding out of our personal hurts and motivations. It was like we were hurling our sin up there at that podium. And I watched as it swirled around that man who happened to not only be my Bishop, but my father as well. I was amazed to see his genuine smile, hear his gracious words, and feel the strength of his gentleness. I saw him bearing a burden of our sin. And I knew it was a small picture of what Christ has done for us. That day I learned that Christian leadership is much more than influencing others, it is offering one’s life for the sake of others, even when they hate you for it in return.

3 comments on “the sin bearer

  1. Don Warrington
    May 5, 2008

    One scripture that gets quoted often in this context is “Then Jesus said: ‘Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:34) Some people think that this was simply an act of blind forgiveness. But my studies of the Middle East have convinced me that they (the crowd at least) really didn’t know what they were doing!.

    Some people who “unload” in situations are calculating, but the majority really don’t understand the weight of their words. That’s helpful when you’re the recipient of such volleys.

  2. darrellbjr
    May 6, 2008


    Thanks for yet another great post, with great lessons not only for “leadership” but for “follower-ship”.

    Right now I’m dealing with some fall out from a prophetic “word” given against some ministers by an individual who has a great heart but maybe lacks tact and understanding. Trying to salvage relationships where both the apostolic and the prophetic have grown out of alignment is too much fun.

    And Don, I can’t agree with you more. Words seem to get people in trouble more than just about anything else…my own words in particular.

    In Him,

    Darrell B.

  3. Dennis j Adams
    May 6, 2008


    Bravo, for your witness through the Holy Spirit! Seeing your dad in the grip of pain and yet loving those at the same moment. How awesome and wonderful is that? I am not at all surprised that you were able to see this. Actually, I am also not complexed nor twisted in the fact that you have become the person that you are. Your dad has burdened-up for a lot of situations and that can only come to a man who prays and is concerned about others not himself. It seems to me that you are mirroring him through your writings and pursuance of your purpose. That, my GS, is the way it is with us and Christ! We witness the truth during harsh and often times, cruel moments. The enormous truth of the matter is that you witnessed it through eyes that have been prepared for the “future” of what may be the greatest and diametrically the lowest time of the COG.


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This entry was posted on May 4, 2008 by in faith, intergenerational and tagged , , .
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