What Are You Thinking?
Familiarity breeds contempt. We are told that the first recorded use of this expression was in Chaucer’s Tale of Melibee around 1386. However, we see examples of the truth of this principle long before Chaucer penned this idiom in The Canterbury Tales. A very early illustration can be seen as the Israelites began to complain about the miraculous, daily manna that God provided for them as they wandered in the barren wilderness. Our sinful, human nature dictates that long experience of someone or something, no matter how wonderful, can make us so aware of the faults of that person or thing as to cause us to become scornful. What a danger this truth poses to us in our marriages, at our workplace, and most importantly, in our relationship to God, His Word, and His church.
If we are members of a good, local church where the Bible is preached by a godly pastor who loves his congregation, we must guard against the natural tendency which leads us to analyze and, eventually, criticize the things of God. We must be aware of the deadly devices of complacency and criticism in Satan’s arsenal.
“Do not allow a small seed of disagreement to grow into an uncontrollable crop of discord.”
As leaders in the church, whether in a staff position, as a deacon or Sunday school teacher, or in some other area of church leadership, we should strive to keep a proper mindset toward God and His work. Understanding the dangers associated with a critical spirit, we must constantly work to keep the “first love” alive in our hearts. It is imperative for us to serve Him with fervent charity. Allow me to offer a few tips that may be a help to you with keeping the proper mindset as a Christian leader:
1. Recognize God’s structure for the local church.
In His divine knowledge and goodness, God ordained the pastor to be the human leader of the church. It is the pastor’s responsibility to lead the church, follow God, and eventually answer to God for the church that he pastors. If we keep this truth in the forefront of our minds, it will keep us from damaging our pastor’s authority, second guessing his decisions, and trying to exalt ourselves to an undue position of leadership.
God knew that there would never be a perfect pastor, yet He ordained that a biblical church would be led by a man, not a committee. If you are not the pastor, then you should be a faithful follower. Decide to follow your pastor and his biblical leadership with a perfect heart. Trust God and His structure for your church, no matter the minor faults you think you see in your pastor.
See Romans 13:1-7; I Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 4:11-12; Hebrews 13:17
2. Respect your pastor, his wife, and his leadership.
Inevitably, you will not agree with or understand every decision. At times, you will believe your solution would have been better than what is being done. Remind yourself that you may not know every factor behind every decision. If it is not your area, and you were not asked for your input, FORGET IT! There may even be times when you feel as though you were treated unfairly. Do not allow a small seed of disagreement to grow into an uncontrollable crop of discord. Keep your negative opinions to yourself, seeking to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” This effort on your part will greatly benefit the cause of Christ, your local church, and your own family.
See I Thessalonians 5:12-13
3. Respond appropriately in uncomfortable situations.
No one likes to be corrected. However, correction is a necessary part of every loving authority-follower relationship. Ask God to help you receive and implement correction in a godly fashion. Also, remind yourself that “only by pride cometh contention” (Proverbs 13:10). If correction leads to contention in your life, it is because you have not properly humbled yourself.
See Proverbs 3:11; 13:24; Hebrews 12:6
I am not speaking of the philosophical change, the moving away from Biblical principles, that is prevalent in so many churches today. I believe that we should stand firm and true on what we believe, not changing with every new wind of doctrine. However, a church that is growing and moving forward for God will require regular, substantial changes to various facets of the ministry. Very often, change within a church can cause upheaval. A pastor may announce a new ministry, a new building project, a new ministry leader, or simply a new carpet color for the auditorium; and World War III breaks out among the membership. As James said, “these things ought not so to be.” When change within the church affects you and your area of service, determine that you will receive it with a humble, Christ-like spirit.
See Philippians 2:14
If you have the privilege to stay in any church, under any pastor’s leadership for an extended period of time, your love and respect will be tested. At times, your fleshly attitudes will creep in and sow seeds of doubt and debate regarding your church and your pastor’s leadership. Give no place to the Devil! Determine to be a whole-hearted, pure-hearted follower of Christ in your local church until the finish line. Love your pastor, love your church, and love your Lord. Fight the good fight (that is not with the pastor), finish your course, and keep the faith!