Sunday. Sometimes it is our best shot at refilling, or so we feel. Practically our entire week depends on it. We go to church with high hopes that all we need will be neatly wrapped up in an hour or so. We know we shouldn’t look at it this way, but still, days get busy and this is our dedicated timeframe to receive God.
Pastor better deliver! Or so we think (but, never dare say)…
It is easy to look at that pastor like he is God. It is easy to put so much pressure on him that we pant with the idea our week will be horrible if we don’t get what we need. Ever been there?
Sure, we know it isn’t right.
Sure, we know it isn’t godly.
But still, we kind of depend on him.
I know many of you will hate me for saying this, but many a time, I have left church let down. Whether it was a building fund message or a guest visitor, I felt that church was a dud. I confess, in many ways I’ve looked to my pastor to be my weekly fix. If he doesn’t deliver the goods, I feel upset and bound to crash and burn.
Usually, right in the middle of his message, I convert from being a willing receiver to an active judger. I notice everything he’s not doing, rather than what God is.
Do you judge your pastor? If you have thought any of these, the answer is yes.
20 Judgements. Have you ever thought any of these?
1. He is not authentic enough.
2. He tells too many stories – or not enough.
3. He is more feel good than biblical.
4. He doesn’t spend time with his congregation.
5. He doesn’t make enough eye-contact.
6. He belabors the point.
7. He talks too much about himself.
8. His message is way too long.
9. He doesn’t pray enough – or even pray with us for that matter.
10. He makes me feel too guilty.
11. He talks too much grace and not enough works (or vice versa).
12. He guilt trips me into giving (or talks about it too much).
13. He is better than thou.
14. He is too charismatic (or not charismatic enough).
15. He doesn’t talk about Jesus enough.
16. He is boring.
17. He dresses poorly (or too well).
18. He never talks about his wife.
19. He speaks too softly/loudly.
20. He has weird mannerisms.
Bonus Judgement: He teaches wrong; there are either too many long verse excerpts or not enough. He does not drive home points well either.
The real truth of the matter is, when our mind is consumed with pastor, it can’t be consumed with God. No wonder we leave depleted. No wonder we leave discouraged. No wonder we leave wondering why our insides feel rough and edgy.
We know these words: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)
Friends, I know many of you are probably like me. We don’t mean to do this, but still, we do. Perhaps, the best thing we can do is to call out to God and say, “Lord, I am sorry. I have done wrong. Help me do right.”
You see, when we draw near to him, he draws near to us (James 4:8). And, like a snap decision, when we say we are sorry, and cast our face entirely on him, he forgives (Matthew 6:14).
Then, in church, when distraction comes calling, we can do one of five things:
1. Pray. Ask God to keep our eyes on him.
2. Confess. The second we hear criticism or critique rise, we can bow our head and ask him to speak into that hurt area of our heart.
3. Humble self. We can remember all things we, also, are not, but Christ is. We can focus on our inadequacies and ask God to fill us.
4. Return to listening. We can consider that perhaps the devil is leading us astray, because Christ wants to lead us to the right way.
5. Affirm. We can remember all the great things about this very person. We can focus on their light, instead of participating in an internal fight. We might even tell them and encourage them in these truths.
No matter what, may we remember: If we are hearing the Word of God, we are hearing the words of God. May no man, including our self, separate us from this power.
A Prayer for Patience
Dear God, When I start to rise in irritation, may you calm me in peace. When I start to stir in frustration, may you focus my eyes on you. When I see all others aren’t doing, help me remember all you did do. You are greater than man, but you work through man so often, so help me be responsive. Mold me and make me. Transform me and stir me. Change me and renew me. Let distractions be far, so you can be near. I want all of you. Amen.
Additional Note: There is always a place to consider if church teachings are biblical. Never be afraid to test the pastor’s words against the Word of God (1 John 4:1) to prove their merit. We are wise to remember that not every seemingly good church is a Godly church.
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Publication date: February 29, 2016