“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).
We hear of it too frequently.
–“He used to be a pastor. But the people in the churches were so mean–undercutting him, criticizing, backbiting, slandering, and then kicking him out–that it ruined him forever. He vows he’ll never enter a church again.”
–“If this is how God’s churches are, I want nothing to do with any of them.”
–“Makes me wonder if the Lord even cares.”
The variations on that sad theme are endless.
But the result, while tragic, is needless.
No one should ever quit Jesus when God’s people mistreat him.
The Lord told us to expect this. The servant is not above his master. The pupil is not above his teacher. If they called the Master a devil, how much more should His disciples expect it. (Matthew 10:24-25)
The Lord was crucified by the religious people, convinced they were doing God’s work.
“…serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials…” (Acts 20:19)
Let a pastor go through one huge church fight that leaves God’s people bleeding and bitter and scattering and he will do everything in his power to avoid another one.
Let a pastor go through a termination in which he is forced out from the church where the Lord had sent Him, and the pain of that rejection will accompany him the rest of the way home.
Some pain never leaves.
The wound heals but the scar remains and the memory never fades.
Thoughts of that event will color his counsel to other pastors. The pain of that event will pop up at the strangest of times. The lessons of that event will demand to be shared with others going through their own bit of hades-on-earth.
As a result of all this, the wounded pastor will mention that event from time to time.
It’s not a choice he makes.
A friend in another state emailed that the membership of her church is being plundered and savaged by adulterous affairs. She is asking for prayer.
Let’s talk about how the enemy sabotages the Lord’s people through the lies of adultery.
I recommend J. Allan Petersen’s 1984 book “The Myth of the Greener Grass.” It should be bought and devoured and kept by every married person, particularly those in the Lord’s work. (See the note from this book below, at the end of this piece.)
Here is my own personal list of the devil’s lies concerning adultery. See if any have been dangled before your eyes.
(In our experience, most of the Lord’s people are wonderful and most of His churches are filled with sincere and godly workers. But once in a while, pastors come upon sick churches led by difficult people who seem to delight in controlling their ministers. When they find themselves unable to do this, they attack. Pity the poor unsuspecting preacher and his family. What follows is written just for them.)
“But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in their synagogues….” (Matthew 10:17)
You and your wife–please adjust gender references herein as your situation demands–went into the ministry with heads high, hearts aglow, and eyes wide open, idealism firmly tucked under your arm, vision clear and focus solid.
As newly minted ambassadors for Christ, the two of you were ready to do battle with the world, eager to serve the saints, and glad to impart the joyful news of the gospel.
Ministry was going to be great and noble and even blessed.
That’s what you thought.
“Not that we are adequate to think anything of ourselves; but our adequacy is of God” (II Corinthians 3:5).
You’re married–or about to be married–to a guy who says God has called him. It’s exciting and it’s scary.
You’re wondering whether you can do this, whether you are cut out to be a preacher’s wife.
Sometimes you wonder why in the world the Lord in Heaven thought you of all people had what it takes to be the (ahem) “first-lady” of any church, large or small. You are so overwhelmed by all the inadequacies you bring to this assignment, you find yourself wishing most days that your man would walk in and announce he was mistaken, that God wants him to run the State Farm office with his father back home. Eight to five, home at night and on weekends.
You’re normal, young sister.
I suspect that every minister’s wife on the planet has felt this way, and yes, including the best ones, those beautiful put-together women you admire from a distance who seem to have developed “pastors-wife” into a career and a calling.
The little boy was 7 years old and loved the church where his dad served as pastor. So, he was not prepared for the bully who took out his frustrations with the preacher-daddy on him.
Each week during the Sunday School assembly, this man, the director of the children’s department, would ask, “Has anyone had a birthday this week?” Now, he already knew the answer since the church bulletin carried this information. But, they would identify the children with birthdays and sing to them.
The week little David was celebrating his 7th birthday he was eagerly anticipating that tiny bit of recognition from his friends in Sunday School. This day, however, the director chose not to ask if anyone had had a birthday that week. David came home in tears.
For when one says ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal? — I Corinthians 3:4
I treasured that young couple in my church. They were attractive, friendly, and faithful. That’s why their letter was so stunning.
We hated you for most of this year. You took the place of the pastor we loved so much. But now, we are gradually coming to love you too.
I was not prepared for that. And here we are, many years removed from that moment, and I am recalling everything about this letter that landed like a blow to the solar plexus. (Note: If you write a love note to your pastor, please do not tell him what you did not like about him at first or how long it took to warm to him. He does not need to know the obstacles you worked through to come to this point.)
The other evening a stranger approached my wife in our church fellowship hall just before a Christmas program.
“Be anxious for nothing…” (Philippians 4:6).
“Why did you fear? Where is your faith?” (Mark 4:40)
Worry, they say, is spending energy and resources on needless situations. Crossing bridges we may never come to. Paying bills that never come due.
Worry is a waste of the imagination, someone said. And almost everyone agrees that, for a believer, worry is sin.
But that doesn’t help, does it? Telling someone not to worry is the equivalent of instructing passengers not to be afraid when the plane is in a nosedive. A lot of good that would do.
Now, what one person calls “worry” another may call “being concerned” or “caring deeply.” When a husband tells his wife he does not worry about some upcoming crisis, almost always she interprets that as his not caring. When the church treasurer said he lies awake at night worrying about our finances, I replied, “Not me. The Lord is going to be up all night anyway; I let him worry about it. I sleep like a baby.” He was thereafter convinced I didn’t love the church as much as he did.
That said, my experience is that some issues do indeed occupy space front and center in the minds and hearts of God’s ministers.
When a church is pastorless, no one knows who the next pastor will be. While we pray for the Pastor Search Committee regularly, has it occurred to us to begin praying for the object of their search? Here is how I’m praying for our next pastor.…
Please send our church a pastor who will be Thy choice first and foremost. Let him know it, let our search committee know it, and let the church be just as confident about it. May the pastor’s family be supportive also, and even excited. And then…
–protect the pastor and our church from anyone who would rise up later and claim this was a mistake and try to oust him. Dear Lord, protect Thy church.
Send us a pastor who will be loved as dearly as any pastor has ever been loved. This congregation wants to love its pastor.