Thursday, June 4, 2015

When Shepherds Eat Their Sheep

FIFA is a corrupt organization.

We've known it for years. Now the FBI has evidence.

On 26 May Swiss police arrested seven FIFA officials while another seven officials have also been charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy.

FIFA officials had a sweet setup where they would receive bribes for their personal account in order to give organisational favours such as allocating tournaments. Then they would also use FIFA's organisational money to invest in facilities and various funded development programs. This investment ensured that those countries would continue to vote for the officials in their current roles, maintaining the organisational status quo.

It seems the event that really shone the spotlight on this corruption was when Qatar was awarded the rights to host the 2022 World Cup. Qatar is a tiny, albeit very rich, Arabian nation. It also has terrible labour practices with thousands of construction workers dying in recent years and hundreds more projected to die on building projects for the World Cup. The climate also seems particularly unsuitable for a World Cup with an average temperature close to 100 degrees Farenheit (38 C). Yet they won the vote.

Rather than go into further details I'll point you to a several articles from real news sites that you might appreciate:
It's not as though corruption just appeared on the scene. The Bible has a long history of condemning corrupt leaders. The prophet Jeremiah warns,
this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done.” (Jer. 23:2)
God consistently refers to national leaders and church leaders as "shepherds". An important element of this term involves the concept of stewardship.

Shepherds do not own their sheep. Shepherds are employees. They care for and protect the sheep on behalf of their owner.

When a shepherd forgets or ignores his role, trouble follows.

  • He forgets that he's receiving money to protect the sheep and stops worrying when one wanders away or is attacked.
  • He starts to think that he has a right to the sheep. After all, he knows their names and personalities.
  • He begins to think that he's owed more than he receives and since the sheep are practically his it's okay if he sells a couple to make money on the side or even takes one for his own food while he's out on the road.
Whether in politics, the church, or sports management, this attitude of ownership and entitlement rather than stewardship is disastrous.

In many cases it reveals itself in financial or sex scandals. A quick internet search will find numerous examples of such instances in a variety of public offices. Sooner or later these things are exposed to public view.

FIFA officials forgot they were shepherds of the sport of soccer on behalf of national federations and millions of players and fans around the world.

Church leaders can lose sight of the truth that they're accountable to God for the souls of the people we lead. We can get caught up in disputes over remuneration, authority, and respect. When this happens we're at risk of falling off the cliff of ownership and entitlement which always ends in scandal. Just ask Sepp Blatter.

In Acts 20:28 Paul provides a prescription for healthy leadership to the elders of the church in the city of Ephesus.
Here are my instructions: diligently guard yourselves, and diligently guard the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has given you oversight. Shepherd the church of God, this precious church which He made His own through the blood of His own Son.
1. Diligently guard yourself. Keep your motives pure. Maintain a strong connection with your Master.
2. Diligently guard your flock. You have a responsibility to care for the souls in your church.
3. The church belongs to God. God acquired possession of the church through the blood of Jesus. Add arrogance to the list of shortcomings of any leader who believes the church is his.

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