I have the privilege each month of investing in other pastors. The concerns they share with me remind me of many things I’ve experienced and learned over 30 years of ministry.
A common theme I hear from other leaders is how often critics attack pastors and their Churches. I often encourage pastors to warn people about the consequences of standing against God’s work and servants.
There is an obvious difference between humble people who genuinely desire positive solutions to challenges in a Church and antagonistic individuals who take pleasure in causing strife and dividing people. I am not talking about necessary stands for truth but causing strife and divisions in unnecessary and destructive ways.
Sober words of warning
Consider these sober words to Church members who are behaving as antagonists: “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple” (I Corinthians 3:17).
Wherever God’s work is flourishing, critics will be there to attack it — often from within the Church. These people feed on negativity and display a narcissistic need to find things wrong with God’s work and His servants. But I’ve repeatedly witnessed the ways God protects His work and servants.
But it sometimes seems like God waits until the hearts of the critics are entrenched before He stands against them – destroying them for trying to destroy His work. Scripture emphasizes God’s patience but also warns against taking it lightly (Romans 2:1-5; II Peter 3:9; Revelation 2:21).
Many of these people deceive themselves into thinking they’re defending righteous causes and they love to take others with them. These are individuals who use deceitful tactics to alienate people from each other — especially from leading pastors. They take strange pleasure in dividing people to draw a following for themselves or make themselves look better.
They use subtle accusations, ask questions with raised eyebrows, or resort to deceitful innuendo. They draw attention to the faults of others by subtlety joking about perceived weaknesses in them.
These are usually insecure people who look for ways to bring attention to the faults of others to make themselves look better. The will even lie (or, lightly shade the truth) to advance their cause or to make themselves look better. They tend to view leadership as competition for recognition.
Avoid the people Jude exposed as “grumblers and faultfinders” (Jude 16), especially those who “who cause divisions” (Romans 16:17) and promote “accusations against an elder” (I Timothy 4:19).
The apostle Paul ordered an early congregation to, “Do all things without complaining and arguing” (Philippians 2:14). To another Church, he wrote, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
- “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud,… Do not be conceited (Romans 12:16).
- “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18).
- “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel (Proverbs 20:3).
- “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
Be especially careful in your criticisms to make sure you are not promoting your own agenda and actually standing against God’s work and servants. God will dismantle you or take you apart if you try to destroy His work and servants.