Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm. –I Chronicles 16:22. (Psalm 105:15)
A pastor who wants a free hand to come and go as he pleases chafes when told he is accountable to the membership or must report to a certain committee. The very idea! He pulls out Psalm 105:15 and I Chronicles 16:22 and uses these as a battering ram on his people.
He bellows, “God’s Word says, ‘Touch not Mine anointed!’ It says, ‘Do My prophets no harm.'”
Then, he gives his twisted interpretation to his misconstrued favorite passage.
“This means no one in the church and no group is allowed to criticize the pastor. God’s messengers answer only to God!”
The only problem with that is it just isn’t so.
Comfort one another. I Thessalonians 4:18
A lady who read our blog commented that when she was widowed, her church did not minister to her. And no, she said, “I did not seek counsel from my pastor. I sought help from the Bible and the Lord alone.”
I’m thinking she was saying that somewhat pridefully. I may be reading it wrong.
I replied, “God never intended you and me to handle life’s burdens ‘from the Bible and the Lord alone.’ That’s why He put us in a church when He saved us.”
We have to give the pastors and leaders a chance to help us. We should let them know we are in crisis. Then, it’s their responsibility to respond appropriately. But if they do not know, they will do nothing and you will suffer needlessly.
I repeat: The Lord intends us to help each other handle these critical passages in life. He does not intend us to life our lives in isolation, just reading our Bible and trying to get sustenance from the Lord. He gives help through His people as well as by the Holy Spirit. And often, it’s through His people that the Holy Spirit ministers best.
“Love one another.” “Comfort one another.” “Encourage one another.”
Have you read that in Scripture? It’s all through the New Testament.
“….not grudgingly or of compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver…” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Have you ever done something big, then the next day had “buyer’s remorse”?
Welcome to the club.
The important thing is that we who lead the Lord’s churches not be guilty of perpetrating that kind of thing on people. We were not sent to coerce or con anyone into anything. We are messengers of the King and are all about integrity and love. What Scripture calls “grace and truth” in the Lord Jesus (John 1:14).
They called him Tommy the Cork. Thomas Corcoran was a political fixer, fund-raiser, and go-to guy for many politicians of the post-War years. Robert Caro interviewed Corcoran for his books on Lyndon Johnson.
He had once told me one of his most effective fund-raising techniques. When the man he was asking for money wrote a check and handed it across the desk to him, Mr. Corcoran, no matter what the amount–no matter if it was more than he had hoped for–would look at it with an expression of disdain, drop it back on the man’s desk, and, without saying a word, walk toward the door. He had never once, he told me–exaggerating, I’m sure, but how much?–he had never once been allowed to reach the door without the man calling him back, tearing up the check, and writing one for a larger amount.
Manipulation means getting people to do your bidding whether they want to or not.
Robert Caro had a problem.
He was researching and writing an in-depth biography of Robert Moses, the highly acclaimed “master builder” of New York City, who lived 1888 to 1981. Originally, Caro thought the book might take a year.
He was wrong. Bad wrong.
After a couple of years working on the book and with no income to support his family, his wife sold the house to raise money to keep them going.
That money ran out.
He kept working.
In time, he was embarrassed when friends would say, “What are you working on?” and he would tell them he was still on the same book. “How long have you been working on that book?” He would mutter, “Five years.”
Five years. Caro felt like a failure.
Betrayals. Disappointments. Constant conflict. Second-guessing everything you say. Griping. Negativism.
Like herding cats.
It takes a toll.
Most church members have no clue that the constant murmuring (the KJV’s favorite word for it) among the flock is offensive to the Heavenly Father and burdensome to the shepherd He has sent.
Moses is a great case study for us. For forty years–think of it!–he gave faithful leadership to the people of God who, far from appreciating him, were relentless in their eroding, grinding, burdening undermining, questioning, and outright opposition. Scripture gives a reason for this: Among the flock was a group of strangers, aliens to the faith.
They were the main problem.
Scripture says when they left Egypt’s slavery, “A mixed multitude went up with them” (Exodus 12:38). Some translations call them “rabble.” Since the Hebrews were not the only slaves of Pharaoh, when God threw off the shackles it must have been like a massive jailbreak. All who could flee the country did so. And since this Moses fellow seemed to have a glorious destination in mind, with no other place to go, many of the “mixed multitude” decided to accompany the Hebrews..
This bunch became the source of a thousand problems for Moses.
The state denominational paper announces the retirement of Pastor Dental Bridges with the usual numbers: During his twelve years as pastor of Center’s Big Ol’ Church, Preacher Bridges baptized 112 people, received 325 by transfer of letter, and constructed a new educational building. Everyone was happy to see him come and happy to see him go.
I read the report on one pastor whose church was on the far side of rural route fourteen. “During his ministry, a new fence was built around the cemetery.” Well, it was something.
We used to hear of reports that went like this: “During his years at Emmanuel Church, the attendance grew from 36 to 2,100.” If you dug beneath the surface, it came out that 36 was the lowest number the church had during its interim period when they were pastorless and 18 inches of snow shut down the area one weekend. And the 2,100 attendance came the Sunday the church brought in the star quarterback from the college football team after they had won the national championship and they gave away autographed jerseys and free kisses from the cheerleaders.
You think I’m kidding. (Okay, maybe I am. A little.)
They criticized Paul’s preaching, if you can believe that.
They said, “He writes these fearsome letters, but his preaching is terrible.”
Well, okay, what they said was: His letters are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak and his speech contemptible. (2 Corinthians 10:10)
And how did Paul feel about that? The same way you and I do when we learn what some are saying about our preaching.
He didn’t care for it much.
He thought it was unfair.
Pastor, if they didn’t like Paul’s preaching, it’s a lead-pipe cinch they’re going to criticize your sermonizing and mine.
It goes with the territory.
I find that comforting. A little.
A friend left this question on our website…
What advice do you give people in the pews to be better listeners? I admit I have listened to a wonderful sermon and by mid afternoon may have trouble with recall of the major points. I have found jotting some notes can help. Your thoughts? We have a gifted pastor and I want to honor him and our Lord by my listening and learning.
My first thought is to say to my friend, “This isn’t rocket science. It all boils down to pay attention, take notes, stay focused.” That sort of thing.
Those who listen to sermons regularly have noticed that a successful listening experience usually involves a number of factors:
Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly, nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock…. (I Peter 5:2-3)
If anyone on the planet should hold to the highest standards in dealing with people, it should be those who preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Alas. The Elmer Gantrys have always been among us. Those who are in the work for the basest of reasons: money, recognition, other kinds of gratification.
Unto whom much is given, much will be required. A warning if there ever was a warning to those who occupy the pulpits. (Luke 12:48)
Lack of integrity permeates our culture.
I had to cancel a credit card this week. The monthly statement showed six or eight fraudulent charges. Where did that come from and how did it happen? I don’t know, but no one is surprised anymore.
From time to time, pastors run situations by me for my response. Often it has to do with a conflict with a staff member. Particularly if either the pastor or staffer is new, conflict often arises. That’s why…
I suggest that pastors have some tried-and-true principles to govern their relationships with ministerial staff and the office staff. That is–to clarify–some bedrock rules you go by in your dealings with your team. In most cases, you have acquired these the hard way, by breaking them or being broken upon them.
Anyway. Here are a few I have lived with, just to get you started….
One. No leader likes surprises.
That’s why we have weekly staff meetings, to talk things out, to plan the calendar, etc. Once on a Sunday morning, the student minister announced to the church that the mission trip for next Summer would be to New Hampshire. Next morning in staff, I said, “At what point did we decide the youth would go to New Hampshire next summer?” He turned twelve colors, swallowed hard, and said, “Uh oh.” We had a head knocking–in love, actually–and he learned an important lesson. And yes, he took the youth to New Hampshire.