I hesitate to write this today, as I do not wish (at all) to garner sympathies, hear “you’re doing great” or gather compliments for myself. I want to confess to you that I am human, I am prone to mistakes, and I cannot be everything to everyone (though, I try to emulate Paul in this regard). Right now, I’m writing to you from a position of pain. It was so pronounced today that I could not do may daily prayer walk of the church, because each step was heavier than the last. I need prayer, and I need understanding, and I need accountability.
My journey as a minister has had many difficulties. They’ve not been beatings, stonings or imprisonments, as I know many brothers and sisters throughout the world face, but the enemy has tried to hinder my progress, with what I am sure are well meaning people. I remember sitting silent as my accusers told stories that were not true (and by accusations, I don’t mean things of a nefarious nature. Rather I was accused of saying things that I didn’t say, and these were disproved by witnesses who were present at the events), I’ve had preacher friends of mine tell me what congregation members say behind my back, I’ve received anonymous letters in the mail, anonymous notes in the offering plate, and all sorts of things like this. I’ve been accused of not having enough time for the church members (which isn’t true, but it’s hard to be up close and personal with 80-130 people), I’ve had people forget the times I’ve bent over backwards for them, even giving up planned time with my own family for the sake of serving others, and go right on and speak nasty things about me behind my back.
The thing is, these complaints are never about my character, about my Bible teaching, about my integrity, it’s always because I’ve done something someone doesn’t like, or the church leadership made a decision, and the challenges are not Biblical but personal. The sad part is, I actually invite discussion and reasoning together if we disagree, but people want to continue and leave anonymous notes and stir up strife behind the backs of the church leaders. The first preacher I ever sat under said “you can’t take it personally, but it’s hard not to, and you tend to do it any way.” I’ve had wonderful men of God say “you have to let it go.” And I do, for the most part. But days like today, I feel the weight of it all, and I must fall upon the cross of Christ and ask for wisdom.
I say all of this because it’s important for all of us to understand that leaders in the church are human (leaders everywhere are, but I will not speak for them). There are some charlatans, there are some who fall, and fall hard, there are some who do horrible things, and must seek repentance, and who will answer to God (and, at times, the Law) for what they’ve done. Yet many of us, I believe, are trying to seek God and His Kingdom. We need accountability. Absolutely. It’s easy to get swayed by culture, caught up in trying to be liked, it’s easy to fall in to greed, and lust, and all of that. But we also need prayer, friendship, and compassion. We need biblical correction, counsel, and love. We need Jesus just like everyone else.
1 Peter 5:1-11
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.