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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Many Pastors Are Surprised by the Grumbling

Church people believe that obeying God will mean that everything will go perfectly. They are told that the reason they are having so many problems is because they haven't obeyed God. They have been given solutions to their problems. They are told that obeying God will solve their problems. Therefore, they believe that God has not been obeyed when something goes wrong.

The pastor of a church must make decisions which he believes are in accordance with God's will. He must make hard decisions. Many decisions mean that other decisions can't be made. Some members of his church may believe that he has made the wrong decisions. They will point to everything that goes wrong as evidence that these were the wrong decisions. They will get others to join them in the grumbling.

Unfortunately, most pastors also believe that success means that the right thing was done and failure means the wrong thing was done. They are surprised with failures. They are surprised by the grumblings. They believed what they were doing was what God wanted them to do. Failure seems to be all they have to show for their faithfulness. There is grumbling all around them.

Many of the people who grumble are those who agreed with their decisions. It seems that they forgot that they were supporters. The first grumblers to leave a church after the calling of a new pastor are former members of the Pastor Search Committee who called him. Many pastors expected opposition but they thought it would be agents of the devil. They never expected their opposition to come from within their own churches.

Should these pastors have been surprised? No.

Moses was called by God to call His people to the Promised Land. The people believed that Moses was God's called to lead them. (Exodus 4:31) They complained when Pharoah required more work of them because of Moses' action (Exodus 5:21). They complained when Pharoah's army pursued them as they left Egypt (Exodus 14:11-12). They complained when they thought they would run out of water in the wilderness (Exodus 15:24). They grumbled when they thought they would run out of food (Exodus 16:2-3). In fact, these people continued their grumblings and complaining throughout their time with Moses.

Now if Moses, who could show supernatural signs that he was God's chosen leader, had grumblings against him; shouldn't most pastors also have grumblings against them when things don't go as the people expect?

The pastor also should not teach or assume that doing the right thing will result in immediate success. Building projects may mean financial difficulties just as leaving slavery meant other physical hardships. Doing the right thing often results in an immediate downturn in production and/or attitude.

The question that must be answered by every pastor is: "Am I doing what God wants?" Everything else is irrelevant. Even the grumblings must be irrelevant.

If pastor and reading this please understand: I am also a pastor and I don't really like grumbling either. However, I know that it takes heat to be a cook. I am called to shepherd the flock; not to fight with them or beat them. I am called to love and care for the flock; not to agree with every direction they would like to go. I am called to lead and leadership means that everything doesn't always produce immediate success. Leadership means people will judge you quickly. I am called to be God's servant just as Moses was. I work for Him, the congregation just provides support for me. If they choose to stop, I still work for Him.

I can say this now because I have been in the midst of grumbling before. (There are always some grumblers anyway. They exist even when things go perfectly.) I have a wonderful church and they are incredibly supportive. I just don't want pastors to believe that grumbling is unusual. Even God's friend, Moses, received grumbling.

If there is grumbling in the church. Please send this to your pastor. He needs to know he is not alone. He needs to know that grumbling may be because he has done the right thing.

Most pastors can relate with the following statement at one time in their ministry:

Exodus 17:4 (NIV)
4  Then Moses cried out to the LORD, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What if you truly believe that your pastor is not upholding his flock and one person is causing harm to the greater body? Many have tried to tell him this in a loving way and have provided clear evidence of this but pleas have fallen on deaf ears.