Posts Tagged ‘pastors as targets of Satan’

Jesus was once accused of being a liar … being suicidal … being a half-breed … and being demon-possessed (twice).

And then a group of religious leaders picked up stones to kill Him.

All this occurs in the same chapter: John 8.

The Savior’s enemies made the following similar but incredible statements about Him:

“Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan [half-Jew, half-Gentile] and demon-possessed?”  (John 8:48)

“Now we know that you are demon-possessed!”  (John 8:52)

And then the leaders ask Jesus in verse 53, “Who do you think you are?”

When Jesus walked this earth, some religious leaders believed that He was evil … and yet Scripture says that Jesus was “without sin.”

Why bring this up?

Because I deal with staff members and church leaders who write to me and talk to me and have come to this conclusion:

Their pastor is evil.

Are there evil pastors?

There might be.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever met one.

Yes, some pastors commit evil deeds.

And yes, some pastors are dysfunctional … have personality disorders … suffer from depression … and have areas of incompetence.

But does that mean that their character is evil?

Let me share with you four quick truths about so-called evil pastors:

First, some pastors are difficult to figure out.

I’ve heard a few pastors preach sermons that made little sense to me.  Their messages were disorganized and didn’t flow.  They made points that I couldn’t grasp.  They seemed to revel in creative interpretations that I didn’t think were justified.

But that doesn’t mean they were evil … just incoherent at the time I heard them.

I’ve worked with a few board members who couldn’t understand the direction I wanted to take the church.  No matter how hard I labored, they couldn’t mentally envision the kind of church I had in mind.

But their lack of understanding didn’t make me evil.

However, in the case of several board members, when they couldn’t understand me, they labeled me “dangerous” and felt justified in harming my ministry.

Jesus could be hard to figure out, too … but did that make Him dangerous?

Please remember: Just because you don’t understand a pastor’s sermons or plans doesn’t make him evil.

Second, some pastors believe they must obey the Lord before they obey the board.

Jesus said in John 4:34: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

The night before He died, Jesus told His Father in John 17:4: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”

Jesus’ ministry agenda came from His Father, not from His disciples.  He was always conscious of what the Father wanted Him to do, while Jesus tended to ignore the agendas of His friends, followers, and foes.

Like most pastors, when I was ordained to the gospel ministry, I promised to preach “the whole counsel of God.”

For me, this meant that I was duty bound to preach from the entire Bible … never to avoid difficult topics … and to speak prophetically about the issues of our day.

In one church I served as pastor, an ex-board member – who had left the church a year before – decided to visit a Sunday service … and railed against me afterwards.

My sin?

He felt that I was “preaching at him” … so he immediately began a campaign to get rid of me as pastor.

He never considered that the Holy Spirit was trying to speak to him … and even warn him …  not to attack me.

Sometimes I’m shocked by how often a board member concludes, “Since the pastor stubbornly disagrees with me on this issue, I’m going to get him.”

Please remember: Just because your pastor disagrees with you doesn’t make him evil because in his mind, he’s simply obeying the Lord.

Third, some pastors are viewed suspiciously because they offended a leader’s friend(s).

Have you ever been a supervisor?

Imagine that you’re supervising an employee who has clearly been insubordinate to you.  So you call him into your office and warn him not to do it again.

He immediately goes to four of his friends in the company and says that you’ve been mistreating him … but you aren’t aware of what he’s saying.

I’ve had this precise scenario happen to me as a pastor … only the person I supervised was a staff member.

Even though church bylaws stated that the senior pastor was responsible for supervising ministry staff members … when a staff member didn’t like what I said to him or her, rather than submit to my authority … they would invariably find a board member and complain to him about me.

The biblical way for the board member to handle such a situation is to say to the staff member, “Let’s go talk to the pastor about this right now.”

But the board member usually wouldn’t do that.  Instead, he and the staff member would form an alliance together … both agreeing on one thing:

The senior pastor must be evil because he wounded the staff member.

But the real evil here is that the board member was seduced by the staff member into taking the staff member’s side without ever talking with the pastor.

In this scenario, it’s crucial that the board member circle back and speak with the senior pastor because (a) the staff member might be exaggerating the situation, or (b) the staff member might be lying as a way of retaliating against the pastor.

Please remember: just because a staff member tells someone that the pastor mistreated him doesn’t mean it’s so.

Finally, some pastors have become special targets of Satan.

Years ago, I saw a Christian film called Whitcomb’s War.  While the production values were rather crude, the film’s message still rings true.

Pastor Whitcomb arrives as the new pastor of a troubled church.  As he sets up his office upstairs, demons begin setting up their headquarters in the church basement.

Much of the time, the demons didn’t intend to attack the pastor directly … but to attack him through individuals in the church.

As a pastor, I’ve been attacked by people outside the church and inside the church.

When you’re attacked by people outside the church … like city planners or church neighbors … the congregation tends to unite together in purpose and in prayer.

But when you’re attacked by people inside the church … especially board and staff members … the congregation tends to follow the person they like/know best and division results.

And all the while, Satan laughs.

Jesus told His opponents in John 8:44:

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.  He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Even though Jesus hadn’t done anything wrong in God’s eyes, once His opponents labeled Him as being demonic … and thus evil … they felt justified in destroying Him.

And even when a pastor is innocent before God, if a few detractors label him as evil, they feel justified in using every weapon in their arsenal to run him out of their church.

Please remember: just because a pastor’s detractors call him evil does not provide justification for destroying him personally or professionally. 

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to get Christian churches to wake up to this important point:

The way Christian leaders treat each other in private will eventually affect the congregation in public.

What are your thoughts about what I’ve written?

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