God often places a delicate balance of people in His church for those who are in the ministry. He allows just enough troublemakers in the midst (tares) to keep the pastor humble and dependent on God. And He puts just enough godly, sweet, and supportive saints (wheat) in the church to keep us from quitting.
I’ve have pastored three churches and attended two others in my Christian journey, and have found both kinds of people in every church I’ve ever been a part of.
If a pastor keeps his eyes on the first group – the critics and troublemakers who oppose every idea he has – he will grow discouraged and eventually leave the ministry. The best plan is to keep one’s eye on the Lord. And that is the main insight – people who oppose church leaders do so – not because it’s about the pastor – but because it is what’s in them. Let me explain….
Sister Ulrich was an older saint in my last church who frequently brought me tiny gifts and always prayed for me during our church services. Sitting on the second row each week I could see her praying for me while I preached. She did this for years. One day I commented how much I really appreciated her expressions of love towards me. She said something that stays with me until this day, “Oh, Pastor Ron, I have loved all my pastors over the years.”
I have reflected on that statement many times over and one day I had an epiphany. I was contrasting her with all the troublemakers I have encountered over two decades. Some people have opposed me no matter what I have done, and here was Sister Ulrich, who loved every pastor she ever had.
That’s when it came to me.
Sister Ulrich loved all her pastors, not because of what’s in them, but because of what’s in her. And church troublemakers will oppose all pastors, not because of what’s lacking in the pastor, but because of what’s lacking in them.
I have learned an invaluable lesson after many years in the ministry – God has placed certain people in the church who simply love pastors. It’s like they possess a special gift of encouragement for pastors. These people have a special place in their heart for pastors and they are encouragers and supporters to every pastor they encounter. These people are the very people who (help) keep pastors in the ministry. PCC is full of people like this who make my job bearable and enjoyable. I thank God for them almost every day.
In contrast, as God has matured me, I have come to see that people who resent pastors (automatically and consistently) do so, not because of something I have done, but because there is something inside them that is ugly, and they are in rebellion against the Lord.
At the end of the day, it’s God’s church, not the pastor’s church. If it’s not this man criticizing, it will be someone else. God uses both the critics and encouragers to sharpen the pastor and get glory for Himself.