Recently, I have been thinking about helping young pastors. I recognize I do not have all the answers and do not pretend to, but I do have some answers. God has allowed me to be in the ministry for 34 years and pastor 5 churches. This past week the Pastor I was called to preach under who is now with the Lord, his wife who is 80 years old, sent me a Christmas card. It was a great blessing! In the card was a weathered and yellowed paper. She stated, “I thought you might like to have this, I found it in my husband’s things.” It was a copy of the notes of my ordination council and all that went on the day I was ordained to the gospel ministry many years ago. As I read over it most of the men on the council who had been mentors of mine had gone to be with the Lord. I am very thankful for the mentors in my life, and just recently it has dawned upon me many are now with the Lord. It does create a void and a loss in my life. I do have fond remembrance of them and the part they played in my life. However, the Lord has been speaking to me about helping others and each of us older Pastors (hard to say that!) must be a positive influence on a younger generation to not quit or compromise the truth of God’s Word.
I get correspondence and calls from discouraged young pastors all the time through Hope Biblical Counseling Center. Most of that correspondence is about the lack of faithfulness of the people in their churches or the problems they are facing in their churches. Many times they share with me how hurt, disappointed, dismayed, and discouraged they are that their people have no more spiritual desire than they do and their lack of willingness to serve the Lord or be faithful. Or the overwhelming problems they are facing. I have had many young and old preachers literally cry and tell me they just want to quit. Unfortunately, many young pastors believe that the foolishness of people affects their family negatively and unfortunately they leave the ministry because of that. Their children carry those hurts all of their life and are disillusioned. Yes, it is difficult when people are unreliable, unreasonable, and unfaithful and you have to face problems. It is hard to build a church if you have to shoulder all the load or a major part of the load because people are unfaithful. It is hard to do the work of God if you have to work a secular job and try to do another full time job! I understand the hurt and the pain that goes on with it.
Many young and older pastors have told me they have just quit trying to encourage anyone because the people get angry at them or anyone who tries to encourage them and then leave the church. That always hurts a pastor who cares, but let me share a thought with you: Do not let yourself become disobedient by the disobedience of others. Below are some thoughts for you in the matter of handling your discouragement with people, their disobedience, and in handling problems you face. No you do not have to quit or compromise.
1. God called you to a place of leadership and commands you to be faithful and to preach the Word. You are God’s representative. Many godly men in the Bible faced problems and you will too. II Timothy 4:2, Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. Keep in mind most people do not like to be reproved or rebuked. None of us do! However, I am still commanded to do that by preaching the Word. However, I must remember that I must preach the Word. I should never preach in anger but firmly and with the power of the Spirit. Being instant in season and out of season means to be consistent. Never be afraid of the people because God has called you to help those who do not want to help themselves. II Timothy 2:25, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.
Notice it says in II Timothy 4:2, To reprove. Reprove means to blame; to censure. To charge with a fault to the face; to chide; to reprehend. To convince of a fault, or to make it manifest. Rebuke means to: Chastisement; punishment; affliction for the purpose of restraint and correction. A chiding; reproof for faults; reprehension. Any kind of check. Exhort means: To incite by words or advice; to animate or urge by arguments to a good deed or to any laudable conduct or course of action. Pretty hard words! They are commanded by God for the man of God!
You must do all of that with long suffering (patience and kindness) and sound doctrine. You have to remember the work of the Holy Spirit in your life and in other people’s lives. Some people are just not going to get it, because they do not want to get it, and their life shows it. Sadly, their children’s lives and their marriage show it as well. However, just because of their disobedience and sin should never stop you from God’s command in your life to preach the Word. Always preach the Word with compassion for others. That compassion and love for them has to come from God in your daily time with Him. You must have a daily time with God in His Word! We have helps with that on our web site at www.hopebiblicalcounselingcenter.com
You must have a real relationship with God to deal with the issues you will face.
Yes it hurts when you spend hours trying to help people, pray for them, encourage them, and they seek to harm you. How do I deal with that?
2. You have to learn to be controlled by the Holy Spirit and turn people over to God. It will sure help your mental state if you don’t fret over them, become angry at them, and become bitter in your life because of them. Most of the young preachers who contact me are bitter over the sins of their church people and the problems they face because of it. You will have a hard time preaching to people in the power of God if you do that. See them as having a need rather than being angry at them because they will not move forward. While you believe your preaching is there to help people, some people do not want to be helped. If they make poor choices you will try to get in front of them and you should. However, there comes a time when God wants you to turn them over to Him. You have to get emotionally free and the only way to do that is turn the person or family over to God. God knows all about their need. You can beat your head against the wall and have your heart broken many times, but you cannot allow Satan to have a place in your life by the foolish disobedience of other people. Ephesians 4:27, Neither give place to the devil (in your life).
James 4:6-7, But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Make sure you understand what submission is. Again there is help on our web site for this.
3. As a Pastor always seek to be an encourager of people. I always try to be a communicator and send a text or email regularly to our people seeking to be an encouragement to them. Can you imagine there are people who do not want you to do that?! Just remember carnal people do not want to be encouraged they want to wallow in their sins. Here is the person who comes to church spasmodically, who does not wish to be reminded of their disobedience. The godly Christian sees it as a great encouragement that their pastor loves them and cares about them. Many pastors never send a birthday card, or a note of encouragement. I had a lady in one of our churches tell me that in her whole spiritual life, I was the first pastor who had called to see how she was doing. Can you imagine that? Sadly, I can. Always try to remember each family’s birthdays, anniversaries, and special times. I have had Pastors tell me, “These stinking people never remember our anniversary, my birthday, or my children’s birthdays”. That is sad, but you have to give your expectations to God in this. If you don’t expect anything, then you will not be mad if they do not remember you and your family, just turn it over to God and do not let it defeat you. Most people who you remember will remember you and your family, but do not get mad and bitter when your expectations are not met. Also, I have had many people in our churches do wonderful things for me. Don’t focus on the ones who do not. Be thankful for those who love you and care about you. Ephesians 4:32, And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. If they do remember you, praise the Lord! This is called dying to self!
I ask God each day who He wants me to encourage that day. I think most people really appreciate the encouragement. If someone asks to be removed from your text list or email list by all means do so, but seek to be an encourager. If you send an encouraging note to seek to encourage people just remember, there are carnal people who will think, “You are taking the place of the Holy Spirit”. You have to consider the source of that foolishness and remember II Timothy 4:2 and the command to encourage. Not every person is spiritually mature enough to understand their need to be encouraged or to be obedient! I also want to say I always tell these folks, we have to live our lives based on what God’s Word says, not on how we feel. Not every person comes to church every Sunday or Sunday night or Wednesday night, but we should encourage them to do so. Why? Because it will help their spiritual life to be obedient to God’s Word. In more than 30 years of ministry there is always someone who will not like what you do or how you do it and complain about it. Don’t spend all your time focusing on the complainer, turn them over to God. You do have more people to help than just them and each time they come to your mind, Lord I want to turn these people over to you. Don’t make them a major discussion factor around your home. If you do they are controlling you and you are not being controlled by the Holy Spirit. Just make sure you are asking God the questions and be obedient to the Word of God and what God is showing you. I cannot stop doing what God has called me to do just because someone does not want to hear it. Remember II Timothy 4:2.
Hebrews 10:25-27, And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
Most people do not see they are “to consider one another” by their faithfulness. They want to think only about themselves. Be sure you will take some heat if you remind them, but just turn them over to God. Make sure they know you love them and care about them. I always want people to know Kim and I do love them and are praying for them. I also want them to know God loves them and wants them to have hope. Romans 15:1-6, We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Most people do not have hope in their life because they do not see the answers to their life from the Scriptures.
4. Show people from God’s Word that He wants them to be controlled by the Holy Spirit and that their behavior should show that. This is a teaching, submission, and patience issue. Not everyone will get it the first time around or even many times around, but keep preaching! To have a sound church we must have sound doctrine (teaching), I Timothy 1:3, As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine.
We must also have correct conduct. I Timothy 3:15, But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. Every believer needs to learn how to conduct themselves in the house of God. Don’t get discouraged if a disgruntled believer does not see it. I recognize our church is not for everyone and I pray all the time God will bring people to our church He wants us to have and protect us from those He does not want us to have. Why? Because I am looking to produce, and God wants us to produce, people who are spiritually growing and mature, emotionally growing and mature, having spiritual and emotional stability, and have a desire to grow spiritually in their lives. When people are spiritually and emotionally immature they make poor choices, are unfaithful, unfruitful, unreliable, and you are spinning your wheels with them if they do not want to change their behavior. It is a great joy when someone “gets it” and really embraces the need to change in their life. It is always sad when they do not, because they will end up in destruction. Proverbs 13:13, Whoso despiseth the word (does not give proper attention to) shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded. Rejoice in those who do “get it.” Always rejoice with them and be positive about their learning and growing. It is always easy to get caught in a negative tunnel and never see the people who are growing and learning. Rejoice with them. Also, you can always find something to praise people about and make sure you do, even those who appear not to want to grow.
Remember this is a spiritual warfare. I Peter 5:8-9, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. He devours those who despise the Word!
Many Christians are being devoured. There are always churches that are entertainment oriented, use a perverted Bible, if they use one at all, and use ungodly music. It is a come as you are and leave as you were philosophy. This is not helping anyone only appealing to the lusts of the flesh, Romans 6:11-19, Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
There will always be pressure for you to build a flesh oriented church, but it is a destructive, worldly mentality that does not end up with godly homes and sadly the children are destroyed as well.
I would imagine this first article sounded very difficult. You cannot do the work of God in the power of the flesh or be a mechanical Christian as a Pastor. It just leads to being an emotional wreck yourself and eventually you will destroy yourself, your family, and the church. You must have a real, intimate, personal and passionate relationship with God. The answer is to turn your frustrations, fears, anxieties, and concerns over to God at the point of impact. Be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Don’t be discouraged and defeated, let God work in your life and their lives. Remember, Rome was not built in a day and neither are people! The work of God is moment by moment with a Spirit controlled mind and heart. Philippians 4:4, Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Have a great day in the Lord and do not spend your time thinking negative thoughts. It has been my privilege to Pastor many good people who love the Lord! Rejoice in the Lord and them! Be thankful for them and the work God is doing in their lives. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. The first step down for any person is to be unthankful. Every person you minister to, be thankful for them. Practice being thankful! That means every day and in every way. One of the things I learned to practice many years ago is to ask God a question daily, “God want do want me to be thankful for today and what can I praise you for today?” It will help you to keep proper focus.
To all the preachers reading this, someone has said, “The ministry would be wonderful if I did not have to deal with people!” Yes, but you do and God does not want you to live a defeated life because of that. You serve the God of answers who loves you and rejoice in Him.
I will continue this series with a few more articles. I hope it will be helpful. May the Lord bless you as you serve Him.