A Critical critique of my criticism

A while back, I had just been asked to lead the young adult ministry at our church family. Up until that point in time, I had little desire for it, mainly because what I thought about our church’s leadership was negative.  I thought they were misguided and out of touch. Decisions about programming, sermon series, musical styles, budgeting etc… were met with my skepticism and anger. I often thought “I could do better”.

Some of the books from “emerging ” church leaders reinforced my critical views that the church had become “too corporate” and that any pastor over 40 had probably sold out or lost touch (i.e. they preached something about a purpose driven life). At the time, our church family was going through some rough times and a couple close friends were hurt by the decisions of our Senior Pastor. I hated him, cursed him and made him out to be my enemy.  My anger multiplied until I was ready to lead a revolt and “do church the right way”….

…until I read Hebrews 13:17

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

That was a total “kick in the junk” . Here I was, the new kid in town, judging the life and ministry of our Senior Pastor, a man I barely knew. He was leading our church family, moreover, he was watching over MY soul.  This cut me to the heart.

I repented and went to him, asking forgiveness. I stood there waiting for the brawl to ensue (which I think he would have won since he’s 19 feet taller than me). To  my delight, he was gracious, kind and understanding.   Now, years later, I am glad to call him one of my closest friends (which is surprising to me since he listens to music I learned about in music history class).  Most of what I have learned about being a pastor is from watching him faithfully shepherd the people that God has entrusted to him (including me). I learned first hand that  he is a shepherd, following the Over-Shepherd, Jesus Christ as best he can.

We still have our differences. In fact, I think we make each other better pastors as we wrestle through ideas and issues within our church family. But it’s done with a heart of love and grace. Frankly, I shudder to think of what I would be like had the revolution ensued. I’d probably an arrogant, angry man leading a church of arrogant angry congregants.   I am thankful to God for authoring  Hebrews 13:17.

We live in a time when it is easy to criticize church leadership. To be a burden to our leaders instead of a blessing.  To scoff and criticize instead of love and pray. Remember, your leaders are watching over your soul…. this is a HUGE deal (did you notice the text says they’ll give an account to Jesus?)

How can we bless our church leadership?  By living in such a way that they are able to lead without “groaning”, but with joy.

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