When I had planned to write about encouraging our pastors for week 5 of the ROCK THE BODY challenge, and specifically about how we talk about our pastors in public, I had no idea how applicable the topic would be. This past weekend the pastor of my church, who had served for 12 years, put in his resignation. He’s been sensing for a while that God was moving him into the next phase of his ministry by spending more time writing and speaking. Even though it wasn’t entirely unexpected, it’s still something the congregation will have to adjust to. So of course, people started talking.
Including me. Over soup at Panera with my friends, our usual Sunday church tradition, we processed the news. I talked about it with a co-worker the next day. I asked a friend who was out of town and missed the service what her reaction was to the news. But as I talked with people, this blog assignment was heavy on my mind. I didn’t want to speculate or spread rumors about why he was leaving or what was or wasn’t said about the situation.
Just as it’s easy to speculate about why a pastor leaves, it’s easy to complain about the pastor’s last sermon or why we didn’t like that version of the Chris Tomlin song or how our church doesn’t have a singles ministry that meets our needs. But do we spend equal time talking about which part of the sermon we found personally convicting or how talented the volunteer worship team members are? Complaining might be easier, but is it helpful? Usually not.
What if we made a commitment to encourage our pastor and church leaders by only speaking well about them publicly? What if instead of complaining about all the problems with the church (and every church has them) we looked for solutions? What if instead of speculating about the decisions the pastoral team makes, we committed to praying for them?
Here are a few verses we can pray over our pastors and church leaders instead:
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17-18).
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19).