10 Minute Read

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

2 Samuel 2:12–3:39
John 13:1-30
Psalm 119:1-16
Proverbs 15:29-30

TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

John 13:21-25 (CSB): “When Jesus had said this, he was troubled in his spirit and testified, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples started looking at one another — uncertain which one he was speaking about. One of his disciples, the one Jesus loved, was reclining close beside Jesus. Simon Peter motioned to him to find out who it was he was talking about. So he leaned back against Jesus and asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ “

REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

WARNING: This is a serious blog post that deals with serious matters. It probably won’t leave you with a warm feeling in your heart if you continue to read. But it is a relevant, helpful topic to understand some hidden dynamics in church life.

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Pastors are known for positivity talk. They often gloss over much that they are aware of. They fear that if they deal honestly with the facts, the carnage would be too great. Or they fear being misunderstood. Or they fear losing congregation members. Or they fear losing their jobs. So, they engage in positivity talk.

“Everything is wonderful!”

“God is doing some great things!”

“The best is yet to come!”

When they (or volunteer leaders) slip out of positions of church leadership, they often want to simply sit on the pew and enjoy the worship services. They don’t want to serve “behind the curtain” again.

Why?

Because they end up knowing too much. They see what goes on behind the scenes. They see the ugliness. They know of the glaring character flaws. They see the power-plays of church bullies. And they no longer want to be a part of it.

Honestly, this nauseates me. And I want no part of it. I certainly don’t want to be the one with the ugly character problems. This is why I have told virtually every deacon body that I have ever worked with that if they ever hear or observe me doing something that is unbecoming to a pastor, a Christian, or that harms the church, they are obligated to come to me and talk to me about it. This is also why I created a “Senior Pastor Team” a couple of years ago so that people, who are answerable to the Personnel Committee, have the right to make sure that their Pastor is who he needs to be. (To view the job description I wrote for the Senior Pastor Team, just click on the following: “Senior Pastor Team”.)

The fact is that when God desires to do something wonderful in His church, Satan will stick his ugly nose into things. He will try to destroy what God desires to do. How will Satan try to accomplish this? By using people in the inner circle of leadership.

We see this in the verses that I have chosen for Today’s Bible Verses. In Jesus’ circle of upcoming leaders, He had a Judas.

But here is a very important principle: The “Judas” in the group is often unknown to all but the primary leader. The one working behind the scenes as the ultimate leader of the church often is the one who knows what’s really going on behind the scenes. More times than not, others in the church have no clue who is working to undermine their leader or the church.

Just listen to how clueless the disciples were regarding the one who was going to sabotage their leader. But, also realize that Jesus (the primary leader) knew exactly who the saboteur was.

John 13:21-25 (CSB): “When Jesus had said this, he was troubled in his spirit and testified, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples started looking at one another — uncertain which one he was speaking about. One of his disciples, the one Jesus loved, was reclining close beside Jesus. Simon Peter motioned to him to find out who it was he was talking about. So he leaned back against Jesus and asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ “

This is amazing! When Jesus said that one of them would betray Him, not a single man in the room said: “It’s Judas, isn’t it?!”

This is in spite of the fact that Judas was being used, and filled, by Satan himself.

John 13:2 (CSB): “Now when it was time for supper, the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray him.”

John 13:27 (CSB): “After Judas ate the piece of bread, Satan entered him. So Jesus told him, ‘What you’re doing, do quickly.'”

Friend, I’m telling you that if God desires to do something wonderful in your church, Satan will do all he can to sabotage God’s work. He will put people in places of power and influence, or use people who are already in those positions, to bring harm to your pastor and/or your church.

Matthew 7:15-16 (CSB): “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit…”

It’s quite possible that the people sitting in the pew will have no idea what the leader is observing. They don’t see what the pastor sees. They aren’t forced to deal daily with what the pastor has to tolerate.

So, what can be done about it? Let me give you some ideas from my personal experience in how to fight against Satan and his schemes to protect your pastor and church from being sabotaged.

1. Pray for your pastor.

He is a sinner, too. He needs your constant prayers for purity, integrity, wisdom, and so much more.

2. Create checks and balances for your pastor.

“Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – Lord Acton, British history (1834-1902)

No man, including the pastor, needs unchecked authority. A healthy church is one in which every single person is loved and also held accountable.

Consider creating a Senior Pastor Team and/or making sure the Deacons hold him accountable.

3. Publicly make your love and loyalty to your pastor known

As long as you have reason to trust your pastor, then make your love and loyalty to him public. He has no authority to do the things God is leading him to do except what is willingly bestowed upon him. So, be public and be clear about your submission to your pastor’s leadership (Hebrews 13:17) unless he gets out of line.

If he gets “out of line,” proceed to the next point…

4. Take gossip and slander against your pastor seriously.

If you hear of church members or lay-leadership or staff who are wrongfully undermining your pastor, realize that your church can only be as healthy as your pastor. If he is being harmed, the church is being harmed.

So, take gossip and slander seriously. But, don’t simply shut it down. Hold the persons accountable. Gather 2-3 witnesses to hear what is being alleged (1 Timothy 5:19-20). Take those allegations to the pastor and/or deacons to resolve. Pursue the matter until repentance (turning from the sin) occurs by the gossiper and/or the pastor.

5. Give your pastor and his family some time away.

There are times when a pastor’s spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being require that he is able to get away from the stresses of ministry for a period of time.

It has been my experience that it takes at least 2-3 days for the pastor to begin to unwind and it only occurs if he turns his phone off and knows that he has left the church is competent hands. It is only the days after those 2-3 days that he is able to actually enjoy the freedom away from the stresses of ministry.

Conclusion

Friend, I don’t care what church you are a part of, it’s not Heaven. While Jesus told us that we would be known as His followers when people observe our sacrificial, selfless love for each other (John 13:35), your pastor’s experience behind the scenes is very different than what you see. You may feel like the church is a little bit of Heaven but he may feel like it’s a little bit of … well, you get the idea.

So, take steps to help him, affirm him, bless him, protect him, hold him accountable … whatever it takes to enable him to be the man God can use to lead your church to carry out all aspects of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

And this can only happen if you work to protect him from the wolves among us.

 

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Photo by Michael Mazzone on Unsplash