I am constantly amazed how naive we choose to be as believers regarding "wolves" in the church who have personal agendas that they hide behind a spiritual facade. This was the case in a call I received recently from a pastor and his board chair. A former leader in the church who has a poor track record of working with others has been quietly working those who will listen in the congregation regarding the senior pastor - subtly undermining him - even though the church board is fully supportive of his ministry.
I asked them if this gentleman's stated "concerns" are his real agenda and they said no. I asked if the board had faced the fact that they had a wolf in their midst that they needed to confront and they said no. I asked if they believed that he had a hidden agenda and they said yes.
Why are we so naive? So unwilling to name agendas for what they are, so unwilling to confront behavior that is blatantly sinful? Think about Jesus when he interacted with people. He saw right through them. He made statements or asked questions that revealed motives and behaviors for what they were.
Jesus told us to be innocent as doves but wise as serpents. Wise people understand, are willing to name and to confront behaviors that hurt the church. They don't allow people to to undermine the church while hiding behind spiritual talk or facades. Like Paul in his letters to Timothy and Titus they see sinful behavior for what it is and are willing to name it and wisely confront it.
I believe we use the excuse of "grace" to not confront wolves in our midst because we fear them and don't want to go head to head with them. In the meantime, the wolves rip through the congregation doing quiet but real and often longtime damage.
Innocent of doves means that we have pure motives. Wise as serpents means that we see issues for what they are and deal with them as leaders. How is your board doing?