"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you."
I try to keep up with what is happening in the world as it relates to the end times. I believe with all my heart that Christ's return will be very soon. I also believe that if He does not come soon we as Christians (even here in the U.S.) are going to go through some rough times. As our society slips deeper into the cesspool of sin, we are going to be hated more and more. We should not be too surprised about this. Jesus gave us fair warning. When He was asked about the signs of the end of the age, one of the things He said was: "You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them." Mark 13:9 This is already happening all over the world and we are fooling ourselves if we think it cannot happen in America too.
So what does all of this have to do with supporting your Pastor? That is easy: as things get worse the more we are going to have to depend on God. And who is it that God has placed in a position to Shepherd us; to teach us; and comfort us? Our Pastors! In fact when you read Hebrews 13:17 you see that one day they (pastors) will answer to God Himself for how they led us. That is an awesome responsibility. But God gives us some responsibility also, and that is to obey them. What does it mean to obey our Pastors? Do we have to blindly take everything they say and run with it? No, in fact we are warned about testing what we hear: "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world." 1 John 4:1-3. If your Pastor is teaching God's Word and caring for your spiritual needs, then you are to support him.
So how are we to support our Pastors? First, and I believe the most important thing to do, is to pray for them daily. Being our spiritual leaders makes them a lightening rod for spiritual attacks from the enemy. Look at it from Satan's point of view; if you can make someone stumble, who would you rather have it be? The person who comes to church once a week and seldom or never speaks to anyone about their faith, or the Pastor who weekly ministers to hundreds of people? If Satan can make a Pastor stumble, it will not only affect the Pastor, his family, his congregation, his peers (the other Pastors in the community) but also the people who have not yet made a decision for Christ. If the leader of those Christians they see every day falls, what are they to think about the whole Christianity thing?
Okay, you are praying for him everyday, because you know that he needs your prayers, but it should not end there. We are all human and we are going to find things in our Pastors and our churches that we don't like. You might not like the length of your Pastor's hair, or the way his wife wears all that jewelry, or that he reads out of the 'new version' of the Bible. Or maybe you don't like the music that is played during the service, or they spend too much time talking about tithing for your liking. Or maybe you don't think the Pastor is a very good business manager for the church. What did they need with all those new computers, or whatever it was they bought with your hard earned tithe? Maybe you don't like the way the church is organized, who answers to whom. Whatever it is, we all have those hot buttons that get to us. God says to obey the Pastor, but these things really bother you. What are you to do? Well, lets start with what you are not to do. You are not to go around to everyone you see at church and complain about the way the Pastor's suit looked wrinkled today. You are not to go behind the man's back and talk to others about how he is not doing his job in your opinion. You are not to get five or ten people who all think like you do and go verbally beat up on the Pastor. You are not to up and leave the church in a huff because they are not meeting your spiritual needs, even though you never bothered to mention your concerns to anyone in authority.
I also believe you are not to stand still and listen to someone who wants to complain to you about these things, no matter who they might be. I am not saying that if a friend comes to you with a concern about something which is bothering them that you can't listen. I am saying that if you have people in the church, even if they are other Pastors, or Deacons, or Elders who want to just come and gossip and complain, you should not be a party to it.
So what can you do if you have concerns? First you should get on your knees and pray about the matter. If you allow Him to talk to you, God might just tell you that He does not mind that the Pastor's hair is longer than you think it should be, or whatever it was that bothered you. I also believe that if your concern is legitimate God will show you that too and also show you what the next step is that you are to take. You can approach the Pastor one on one and voice your concerns to him. You might ask him to pray about it and then pray yourself that God will deal with his heart. If nothing else works and you still feel led to deal with this problem you might consider going to the Church Board or other governing authority in your church. However, no matter what the outcome of your conversations with the Pastor or the Board you don't have the right to take your concerns to other groups of people who have no governing authority in your church. To do so would only give Satan a foothold in your life and in your church.
Am I being too strong about this? I don't believe so. If you stir things up and get more people involved who have no authority to change anything anyway, what have you done? You have divided the church. What does Jesus say about a kingdom which is divided against itself? "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand." Matthew 12:25
It does not surprise me that there are struggles in our churches. I think people usually view Satan in one of two ways. They either give him too much credit for the things that happen or they discount him totally. I try to stay in the middle. I never forget that he is a creature created by God and therefore he is lower than God. He cannot do anything that God does not allow him to do. However, I do believe that he has been given control of this earth at this time. Again, that does not mean that he can do anything he wants anytime he wants, especially to Christians, but it does mean that he can work around the edges and cause problems. I believe with all my heart that he and his demons attend church more regularly than some of us do. Many of the simple misunderstandings in our churches that cause splits and ineffective preaching of the gospel are due to him (and his demons) working in Christians' lives without their knowledge.
I don't mean to say that some Christians are controlled by satanic forces, but I do believe when those Christians forget to pray and use proper channels to address their concerns they are falling for a trick of the father of lies. God Himself says in His Word that He is not the author of confusion. I believe that Satan often uses our human nature to get us to respond to things in an inappropriate way. If we will let the Holy Spirit control our lives, that will stop.
Let's look at what God's Word says about this: "And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." 2 Tim 2:24-26.
Don't give Satan a foothold in your church. Keep your eyes on Christ, not on other humans. Pray for your leaders. When something happens that you don't like, take it up first with the final authority - Christ. He will know how to deal with it better than you will ever know, and after all, it is His church!
These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.
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