The leadership conference for pastors, church planters, and church leaders ended last night. It was a blessing to speak to them on the subject of leadership.
A Heartbreaking Story
During one of the breaks, a pastor came to speak to me. He wanted to share with me some of the challenges he is facing. He has a five-year-old daughter, and, when she was about a year and a half she began to signs of a balance issue. The result is that she cannot walk or crawl. She can drag herself a little. She can say a few words, however, she cannot speak. They are not able to toilet-train her and they cannot find proper diapers. Shortly after his daughter began showing these problems his wife died of cancer. He has since re-married to a woman who knew about the situation with his daughter. He looked at me and said, “Pastor. It is hard.” It was a heartbreaking story. Our typical American response is: “Why doesn’t he…” We do not realize that the resources available in the United States are not available to the average person in the third world.
When the conference was over they had a bit of a closing assembly where they thanked everyone that came, helped, taught, etc. As it was taking place, the same pastor stood up and walked to the front of the room and asked if he could speak. He said that when he came to the conference he had decided to quit the ministry. He has a church of about forty and twelve of the people will not follow or respect his leadership. However, he said that, as a result of the conference, he had decided not to quit. He said that, if he quit, it would make him like, or lower than, those who are giving him so much trouble. It was very moving to sit and listen to him; you could have heard a pin drop. I am not implying that he is “innocent”. However, it is shocking how merciless the attack of “God’s people” can be. I am convinced that Christians will not experience the blessing of God upon their lives until they repent regarding their treatment of God’s servants, as well as the malicious gossip they have participated in concerning them, and the damage they have caused to the church.
Attacks from Within
We often hear the statistics that young people are leaving the church when they are old enough. We blame anyone and everyone in sight – except ourselves. Out of desperation we change anything and everything in order to make church “relevant”. Instead of church being irrelevant, young people might be turned off by the hypocrisy they have seen – the lying, backbiting, gossip, and slander – even by those who are supposed to be the “pillars” of the church.
Many pastors are very discouraged, but, don’t dare say so. Unfortunately, if they did it would add to the criticism they face. God’s people do not understand the spiritual battle that goes with being a pastor. I am not using that pastor to speak for myself; however, it does give me opportunity to say that some of God’s people are going to have a lot to answer for regarding how they have treated God’s servants, their spouses, and their families. Some day I will likely be a “person” instead of a “parson”. When that is the case my number one ministry is going to be encouraging my pastor.
There is a Need for Encouragement
Because of the location of our church we have many, many pastors who visit while on vacation. Often, in private, they share with me how discouraged they are or about the challenges that they are facing. One of the chief attacks they face is the gossip that takes place among God’s people about the pastor. We are not perfect. We are far from perfect. Most of us know our weaknesses far better than people do. However, gossip about God’s servants is one of the chief weapons the devil is using to attack the church.
Today should be a leisurely day of packing and visiting. Tonight, we will have dinner with a Brazilian couple who are missionaries to India. I stayed with them a year ago when I was here in Siliguri.
Tomorrow, I fly out of Bagdogra (nearest airport to Siliguri) and travel to Delhi. My flight out of Delhi leaves early; and, three planes and many hours later, I should be home.
God has given us a special privilege as a church to minister to national pastors and their spouses. They are very, very appreciative of our sacrifice of time and money on their behalf.
See you “soon”.