“And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people chode (contended) with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God (if only) that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?”Numbers 20:2-4
I have been a part of five churches throughout my life. My goal is to spend the rest of my life in the church I am now, but I do not know what God will have for me in the years to come. In every church I have been in, I have been unhappy about one thing or another. I looked at things differently than the pastor did, and I sometimes voiced my opinion on the matters. The church is a family, and it is sometimes easy to get sideways with the man of God due to a difference of opinion or even some biblical issues you disagree on. I have been in this situation myself, and I have said and done things I am not proud of.
Since I became an adult, I, through my freewill, joined a local church with a sound mind and body. I know there may be some who debate that fact, but I was to the best of my knowledge. There was no one with a gun who forced me to join, and there was no one causing me to stay. I agreed to be under the leadership of the pastor, and I agreed to support and pray for him. I read the church constitution and I agreed with it upon joining. It is funny how we subject ourselves to this authority, but we then struggle with coming under pastoral authority. I will agree that in a lot of cases, I have been wrong in my thinking and questioning of the man of God, and I was the one needing to make things right.
I remember a particular time at teen camp when a preacher had given a message on dating and the dos and don’ts of what it should look like. He discouraged relationships of any kind in the teenage years, which did not make the teenagers in the audience who had coupled up for the week happy. He gave an example that if you kiss a girl or a guy, that in essence, you were kissing someone’s future wife or husband. He stated the odds of you marrying that girl or guy were not as good as you thought they might be, and he warned us of getting into improper relationships and sexual sin. The conviction was thick in the room and this was only the first service of the day. This did not sit well with many, but it made me think and evaluate my own life.
We got out of the service and it did not take long for my friends to start discussing the topic of the message. Some of my friends started to lay into the preacher – behind his back of course – as they disagreed with what he had said. They accused him of never being in love before and even questioned if he ever had a girlfriend. He was married with kids, so I imagine he dated his wife at some point. My friends tried to engage me, but I was under conviction myself and I thought lightning would strike me down if I said an ill word about the preacher. I wish I had subscribed to this same fear as I got older as I have said plenty about the man of God that I should not have said.
The job of a shepherd is not an easy one, and we must guard what we say about the pastor God has put in charge of us. They are not perfect by any means, but they have been placed in a position of leadership. The children of Israel came out against their leaders, Moses and Aaron, but really they were coming out against God. We think we are attacking the man of God, but in a sense, we are attacking God because He is the one who placed the leader in authority over us.
Are you attacking the man of God? Are you saying things you should not say against the man of God? When we are tempted to speak ill, we should stop and pray for our pastors and ask God what we can do to encourage them. May we do better and be an encourager and not a discourager.