Most vocational church and parachurch leaders deserve more applause than they get. They’re diligent, caring, teachable, committed to Christ and His church, and often underpaid in a job fraught with pressure and folks’ unrealistic expectations.
I’ve served with godly men whose shoes I could never fill (despite my size 15-6E feet). And in my decades of ministry, I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes.
But (ah, you knew that word was coming) I’m growing increasingly tired of certain attitudes and behaviors that I’ve observed among some persons in public leadership.
I’m tired of leaders who blame every instance of criticism or opposition on “an attack from Satan.”
If you don’t think God speaks needed words through unsolicited counsel, reproof, or criticism, go through the book of Proverbs. List all the verses that call for a teachable spirit in response to such input.
These verses represent a much larger sample:
“He who hates reproof is stupid” (Prov. 12:1b).
“He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise” (Prov. 15:31).
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (Prov. 12:15).
Father, help us to discern when opposition stems from spiritual warfare, and when it is Your attempt to speak to us.”
I’m tired of pastors who are so busy being CEOs that they preach sermons found online (often without giving proper credit to the source).
I’m not talking about consulting others’ sermons as part of a preacher’s preparation. Glancing at what a respected scholar or teacher says on a text offers fresh perspectives and helps check the accuracy of one’s conclusions.
But I am talking about using another’s sermon to substitute for one’s own diligent investigation of a biblical passage. How can the Holy Spirit challenge or encourage a preacher who doesn’t wrestle directly with the text? How can he deliver someone else’s message with passion? Not to mention that without proper attribution, it amounts to plagiarism.
I’m tired of leaders who label anyone who questions their ideas as “disloyal” to him, to the church, or to the organization.
It’s as if God can’t speak through anyone except the person who came up with the idea. “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel” (Prov. 1:5).
I’m tired of TV evangelists and preachers who plead for money to pay for their broadcasts without telling viewers to give their tithe to their local church.
How would the pastors among this broadcast group feel if their own members gave their tithe to another speaker’s TV outreach?
I’m tired of churches who take their doctrinal viewpoint on women and ministry farther than their biblical interpretation dictates.
It’s one thing to believe that women should be excluded from authoritative, ordained positions such as the office of senior pastor or elder. Not all conservatives interpret texts such as 1 Timothy 2:9-15 this way, but it’s a view some denominations have based on serious exegetical study.
It’s another thing entirely to apply that doctrinal stance in ways not dictated by this interpretation. What irks me is the often unwritten rules that say women can’t chair a committee or serve as an usher. It’s the viewpoint that a lady can lead the choir, but it’s inappropriate for her to turn around and lead the congregational hymn.
- I’m tired of pastors who don’t enthusiastically support the church’s ministry to children.
When it comes to staffing, funding, and promoting children’s work, it’s nearsighted not to be an advocate. Never mind that statistically-speaking, the average person dies believing about Jesus what he believed about Jesus on his thirteenth birthday.
I’m tired of leaders who don’t refer chronically-depressed persons to a medical or psychological professional.
I’m not denying the value of biblical counseling. In my own pilgrimage with depression, memorizing key Bible passages helps keep my focus on God and His promises, and offers comforting perspectives. **
Theology does inform despondency, and there’s a spiritual battle involved no matter what causes the depression. And when I see a therapist, it’s someone whose counsel is informed by a biblical worldview.
Yet it’s naïve to deny the research that links much chronic depression to physiological
causes, or to equate depression with anemic faith. If you explain repeated bouts of
despondency by direct sins or an inability to trust God–or you believe that healing
depression is as simple as accumulating more Bible knowledge–then heroic figures
from church history such as Charles Spurgeon and David Brainerd were spiritual midgets
and biblical ignoramuses.
If you see yourself in one or more of my complaints, remember: truth doesn’t hurt, unless it ought to!
Do any of these things bother you as well?
What are you tired of?
**Here’s a link to Terry’s 30-minute chapel testimony at Columbia International University on depression and faith, given in 2014. CIU Chapel Podcast: What I’ve Seen In the Dark: A Story of Depression and Faith