After almost 20 years of serving as a church leader, I have learned some things that often are only truly learned in the middle of living through a given situation. God places each of us in situations that force us to rely on Him and forces us to examine ourselves by His standards.
In my first pastorate, I left having learned a lesson I wish I could have learned prior to my first pastorate, but some of us have to learn the hard way. The lesson: deal with people problems quickly. If anyone were to ask me: “What are two things you learned in your first pastorate?” I would answer 1. Matthew 6:33 is for real, if you pray and practice it and 2. Deal with people problems quickly.
Every leader is one good leadership decision away from being hated by a few for the good of many. I cannot imagine what stress and burden President Donald Trump must bear each minute of the day. No one should underestimate what any leader that holds the office of President of the U.S. must go through on a daily basis.
Every leader has critics and to a pastor 4 bitter people can feel like 400. I am reminded of one of our heroes of the faith, the Apostle Paul, when he wrote about Alexander in 2 Timothy 4:14
2 Timothy 4:14
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
There are “Alexanders” in every church and I wonder how many them would truly want their legacy to be recorded for all to remember as it was with Alexander the coppersmith.
The problem is that we have so many people thinking they are Paul, the victim, when in fact they are Alexander in the scenario. Let me be clear, I have been an Alexander before and I have even told my church of how I had a heart of treason toward a pastor at one time in my life and God had to break me open and break me down. I even wrote about it in an ebook: “Staph Staff Infection, Leprosy and Other Ministerial Diseases”.
So, some helpful advice jotted out here in a few phrases:
“Right is always right even if no other person agrees and wrong is always wrong even if no one agrees”-unknown
“Never let anyone outside your circle of love”-Dr. Ronnie Floyd
“There is wisdom in the abundance of counsel.”-GOD
“Be FAT: Faithful, Available and Teachable”-some Sunday school teacher somewhere and I add especially when you are the leader.
“Son, if 10 different people are trying to tell you this is a bad idea you might ought to listen”-Some old man I met when I was a very stupid 19 year old.
When you commit to the gospel ministry there is no turning back, there will times of sorrow, times of rejoicing and hard decisions that will be made. There are stands that you will have to take in loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ that will leave you feeling alone and friendless but as a minster of the gospel of Jesus Christ you are not alone, in fact are in better standing with God in those times, more than at any other time in your life.
People may call you a liar on Facebook because they have been lied to and you can never set the record straight because to do so would silence your critics, but do so much harm to the unteachable offender who is blind to his own situation and deaf to those trying to speak into his life. You demonstrate love and mercy, you let him go on knowing in due time God will bring him to his senses and knowing you did not destroy his reputation, he did it to himself.
“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 26:12
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. (Prov. 18:2)
“And you say, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors.” (Prov. 5:12–13)
You have to take the high road even when others do not. God will be your defender, your refuge and your strength.
I close with one exhortation: If you are sowing discord among the brethren, stirring up trouble in a church read this passage that speaks for itself:
Proverbs 6:16-19English Standard Version (ESV)
16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.