By Ken Blue
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Romans 16:17.
Pastor, if you are the leader of your church, you can expect attacks from every direction, for every cause. Jesus said, “Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” Matthew 26:31. Please don’t try to help me out by reminding me of the context, and who smites the shepherd. I got it.
The application is universal…smite the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered. Remember also, when you are under attack, the destruction of the church is Satan’s goal.
One pastor friend said the source of most problems is “frustrated ambition.” That is, someone wants something, and you are in their way. Another said, the two things a pastor-leader will be accused of most often is “a lack of love for his people, and being a dictator.” It only makes sense, if someone resents you, those would be their attacks.
We hear much today about the “abusive pastor,” or how good churches become cults. An author with the same name as mine has written a book, “Healing Spiritual Abuse: How to Break Free from Bad Church Experience” I confess, I have not read the book, but I have no doubt about its subject content. There are those who have dedicated their entire lives, and ministry, searching land and sea for a pastor who has fallen so they will have something to write about.
The pastor is called to lead the flock. We will confine our remarks to the Pastoral Epistles so we may be true to our subject. In 1 Tim.1:4, Paul tells young Timothy to not allow himself to be drawn into arguments and debates. In verse 18, he is to wage a good war against the Devil. In chapter 3:5, he is to “rule, and care” for the church. In verse 12, he must exercise judgment about the choice of deacons. Sound doctrine must be the heart of his sermons, 4:6. In 4:11, there are things to “command and teach.” In 5:7, he is given a charge by Paul. In verse 11, there are certain people who must be denied the financial care by the church. In 5:18, he is to set the salary of other pastors who work for him. Chapter 5:20, would be considered abuse in any church today. That’s because the pastors are “wimps.” Chapter 6:4, 5 will be at the heart of most troublemakers. Verse 17 calls for another charge to preach.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]With great responsibility, comes greater accountability.[/pullquote]
The preacher can discover for himself his leadership duties also in 2 Timothy and Titus. Pastors should seek advice in some matters. He must love his people and protect them, and himself. You must be open, and transparent. But, you should not allow anyone to take the leadership away from you. You are accountable to God to “take the oversight” as God leads you. With great responsibility, comes greater accountability.
I will list some things that are not spiritual abuse. Those who think they are, should join a church that doesn’t have any men in it.
- It is not abuse for the pastor to take the leadership and oversight of the church. To do otherwise, is a neglected of duty.
- It is not abuse to preach the Word of God as you understand it, regardless of who does not like it.
- It is not abuse to remove those who cause strife or division.
- It is not abuse to set people in place, that you trust, over ministries.
- It is not abuse to have any guest speakers of your choice.
- It is not abuse to lead the planning for the church future.
- It is not abuse to refuse to abdicate your leadership.
- It is not abuse to refuse to allow someone to do something you don’t approve
- It is not abuse to choose the music for the church.
- It is not abuse to take the leadership of the church. Either you will lead, or some sissy’s wife will.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.