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  • Romans 15:7 September 22, 2017
    “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

Mike Teston

Mud Pit

I’ve seen the four year political cycle all the way back to Nixon/Kennedy. I’m old, I know. But I can’t remember an election where so much mud (and worse) has been slung, regardless of who your favorite candidate might be.

It would be nice if the political arena were the only pit from which mud is slung. But thanks to social media, people no longer have to vent in person. They can enter a password, start typing, and sling away with unfiltered criticism aimed at anyone they choose. And on occasion, you, Mr. Pastor, are the target.

Now I believe that measured criticism, coming from the right person at the right time is a gift. When a blind spot is addressed by a caring friend, we should humbly receive it and thank them for their faithful wounds. But a mud-filled Tweet or Facebook post hardly qualifies as faithful or beneficial. It is intended to do harm, to inflict pain, to hurt.

If this has already happened to you, your stomach is probably tensing up right now as you replay the story in your mind. If it hasn’t happened to you or your church yet, it’s probably a matter of time. I’m not being pessimistic here, it is the world we live in.

So here are some things to consider if you are someone’s target:

  • What grain of truth can you extract from this, regardless of the source? See David’s reaction in 2 Sam 16
  • Delaying a response almost always produces a wiser response. Sleep on it. Prov. 15:1 says a gentle answer defuses anger
  • Consider the value of no response at all. My pastor rarely ever responds to social media mud. Responding is like inviting another round of slinging, and can actually give credibility to the source
  • Jon Acuff says, “If you create anything, you will get criticized.” If you preach and teach, introduce fresh ideas, challenge people to grow, touch someone’s conscience, you will get attention. And some of it will be negative.

Almost everywhere Jesus or Peter or Stephen or Paul went, they faced opposition. They expected it. And they kept right on doing what they had been doing – living to advance the Kingdom of God.

Don’t get distracted. Get back to work. Mud washes off.

No Greater Honor

Being a pastor of a local church is not for the faint of heart! We lead organizations that carry the most important message on earth, that Jesus is the one and only Savior of the world. The eternal stakes could not be higher.

We pastors were attracted to pastoral ministry because God tugged at our hearts, we saw a needy world, and we believed he could use us to be part of the solution. Most of us were motivated by a pure, God-given desire to help people.

Yet we can be caught off guard when opposition nips at our heels, or worse, rip our heads off!  Actually, we shouldn’t be surprised by the difficulties because we’ve been warned, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)  We pastors should pay special attention to Jesus’ warning because we are the ones who stand out in front, leading our congregations.

 

Consider these factors:

* Your church intentionally attracts hurting people. And hurting people often hurt other people, even the ones who try to help them. You have been called to move toward their mess and that can get messy!

*Every person in your congregation suffers from the same disease – a fallen sinful nature. They are capable of listening to its toxic deceptions and using words that cut into your soul. They are also capable of listening to the toxic words of other church members. You may have had to do the math: toxic + toxic = toxic2

* We have a formidable enemy who hates God and everyone close to Him. As a pastor, you have a bull’s eye painted on your chest and an enemy who is an expert marksman. He will make ministry so unbearable that you will consider walking away. But remember, it’s called spiritual warfare, and it’s why you must put on your armor daily.

*You can be your own worst enemy. You can suffer from emotional exhaustion, poor health, being blinded by your own spotlight, an unsustainable schedule, sexual enticements, an unsupportive spouse, and on it goes ad nauseam. Some of my worst ministry problems contained an element of my own failures. Some of yours probably do too.

*Sometimes, leaders on the same team can’t get along. The apostles, Paul and Barnabas, Peter and Paul, the Corinthian church, Euodia and Syntyche – they all knew what it was to fight with one another.  If you’ve been a pastor for a while, you have likely seen a staff war. Perhaps you have some scars. Perhaps you are engaged in one now.


Pastor, you are desperately needed for the long haul.
The stakes are eternally high and you matter in God’s plan. You have no greater honor than to be a junior partner with him in the building of his church.

This is why Grace Valley exists: to minister grace to you.

We know what it feels like, we’ve been there too. We have been hurt, been wounded, wanted to quit, and struggled with our own glaring inadequacies. We love being able to run the race with you and together fixing our eyes on Jesus.

Join a group, engage in honest discussion, seek encouragement from other pastors, offer wisdom and experience to them, contact us and let us help you do what God has called you to do.