Pastoring churches may be one of the most difficult jobs that exists. I have been reading some blogs and articles recently about pastor’s who were under so much pressure that their marriages were harmed, their children abandoned church, their health was destroyed, and they had nervous breakdowns. I have seen the same kinds of things happen to members of church staffs. There are so many toxic churches out there that treat those who serve them like hirelings and do not respect their calling or their gifts. I am not talking about those who fail morally and have to leave their posts. I am talking about men and women of integrity and devotion who just don’t suit those that they serve. I am convinced that God will judge those who harm his servants. In these four decades, I have watched those who attacked me experience numerous calamities. Some died suddenly and unexpectedly. Others experienced embarrassing and humiliating scandals. This always left me wondering if perhaps God was not disciplining those who would harm his church or harm those who he had placed in leadership. Psalm 105:15 says “Do not touch my anointed ones. Do my prophets no harm.” This is a word of warning from God. It has meaning and should be considered by those who simply don’t like a given servant of the Lord or consider his or her gifts to be weak. God will call to account those who harm his faithful servants. He need not hurry. They have nowhere to hide.
Now that I have your attention. Let me say that my journey has been very positive. I have never had a church try to push me out of leadership. I have had a time when I thought I might leave because of division that was occurring as people adjusted to my leadership style, but God graciously showed me his power to bring unity and healing. Most of my experiences with the things I am referring to in this blog have occurred in the lives of staff members who have served with me. I have suffered a great deal because of the pain that humble and faithful people have had to endure. Neither I, nor any staff member with whom I have served, are perfect, but the same could be said for any member of any church. If there is one lesson that I wish I could teach lay people, it is that you can actually help people grow and succeed by loving and praying for them. God’s servants need encouragement. When loving people, approach a servant and express a need or desire, true servants of the Lord consider it and seek to meet needs. When critics come and bring their judgements, there is the more likely response of self defense.
Let me close on a note of thanksgiving. Thank you Lord that you have given me so many wonderful people to serve. Thank you that most of my critics have loved me and helped me to grow. Thank you that my family has not been harmed by the pressure like so many have experienced. Thank you that you have allowed me to serve churches that have grown and flourished in all kinds of environments. I gladly confess that I am no more worthy than others who have suffered greatly. I know that the blessings of these four decades and more are another expression of your amazing grace.