Watch Out!

 

pastor silHebrews 13:17 (NKJV)

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

For some that are reading this now, there is disdain and disgust for the above verse. If that’s you, I can only think of two reasons, abuse or rebellion. In fact I have felt the first one keenly, as so many cultural fundamentalist pastors seem to believe this verse gives them complete power over the Bride of Christ. This abuse has caused many to actually hate the Word of God, and there is no way around it, this is the Word of God. I feel for you, I really do.  However, you must also now remember that God placed protections in His Word for you and every church of Jesus. In Titus, 1 Timothy 3 and again in 1 Peter we see that the Lord established some very firm protections for the church in the form of standards or qualifications for the pastors.

  • Not self-willed.
  • Not quick to anger.
  • Not LORDING over God’s people.
  • Hospitable…  Just to name a few.

If you are under a pastor that is constantly angry, or that is inhospitable, or is lording his authority over the church instead of leading in quiet strength, you might be under an abusive shepherd, one that doesn’t deserve the position he has taken.  There are Biblical ways to confront him on this and you should follow them.  The pastor is not above the rebuke of the church or even church discipline should he be unrepentant. Consider the following passage, one often taught poorly and usually only concerning the financial support of the pastor.

1 Timothy 5:17–20 (NKJV) “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.”

The Scripture says that you have a responsibility to “rebuke in the presence of all” that others may fear. It doesn’t say that we cannot accuse an elder, it does require a high amount of security in that accusation. Two or three witnesses to the sin. I believe this is because as a pastor you will surely step on toes and make enemies, so God has given you a measure of protection from unfounded accusations. That said, when two or three witnesses come together to confront you over your abusive, self-serving tendencies, you ought to repent humbly and allow God to restore you to fellowship with the bride. Otherwise they are to rebuke you before all that other pastors may fear.

On the other hand, as you read those three protective passages, and you find that you do have a man; that while not perfect, does measure up to them with consistency, is humble when he fails and seeks repentance and restitution; then your disdain for the above Scripture has fallen into the other category… the category of rebellion. Something that our savior is only too familiar with. Even if you were formerly under an abusive pastor, you should hold your pastor to these standards and if found worthy, you should follow him and avail yourself of his counsel and guidance.  All of this being said…

This morning my devotions (read in the Jacksonville Airport) took me to this verse. The devotion was encouraging church members to enlist the help of their pastor in reaching lost friends, family or co-workers. It rightly lifted up the pastor as someone that they should be able to trust with helping them. But as I read the verse, as a pastor, the words “watch out for” and “give account” are what jumped from the page. If you are a pastor and you are reading this blog, perhaps you and I should spend more time with these words than with the words OBEY, SUBMIT, LOVE your pastor.  We need to be worthy of all of those other words. We need to watch out for the Bride. We need to prepare her for the Judgment Seat of Christ. We need to be ready to give an account for her. Our teaching and preaching and leading needs to build her up in the faith. But our behavior should as well. Far too many believers have a low view of God’s Word because we have taught them to have that view. I have heard so many preachers claim to have such a high view of Scripture only to rip it out of context to serve themselves, their agenda’s or support their preferences.  So To myself, and to my fellow pastors I say watch out for the Bride. Prepare her. Love her. Teach and preach the whole counsel of God, but remember to ask yourself to whom you are preaching and apply the medicine in the right manner and context.

God bless brothers, we serve a mighty King and we answer to Him, not He to us!

 

 

One Response to “Watch Out!”

  1. Mary Martin says:

    Good series of blog posts, Eric. Appreciate you so much.

    One caution I have seen (in the confrontation of a pastor) is that human nature tends to connect dots once someone is accused of an act. You can then get people crawling out of the woodwork saying they think the pastor is guilty of the same thing someone else said. I think it is important that the two or three witnesses all come forward at the same time and not that one person is allowed to make public accusations as a “fishing expedition” to try to flush out 2-3 more people who will agree with him. Believe me, if it is done like that, he will find those 2-3 people. But whether they are actually credible is a whole other subject!!!

    Thanks again for this good blog.

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