Do you pray for the leaders of your church? Because they need it. Badly.
Here are five things to pray for when wanting the leaders in your church to be who God has called them to be (Church leader classifies as: Elder, Deacon, Priest, Pastor, Preacher, Minister, Church Staff Member, Bible Teacher, Ministry leader, Bible College Professor):
1. That they would not be Arrogant.
Arrogance is like bad breath, you’re the only one that doesn’t know you have it.
If your church leader doesn’t have a close, loving relationship in leadership with someone who will hold them accountable, most likely they don’t realize how prideful they are.
Arrogant people think, We’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys. We have the answers, they need us. We are critical because they’re the one with the problem. We point out that this person messed up because it enhances the view of others that we never mess up.
They also say, The Bible is infallible – and so is my interpretation of it.
The Bible is perfect. My interpretation of what it says is not perfect. The Bible is infallible, but your favorite Christian pastor/author/professor isn’t. Inerrancy doesn’t extend to Bible teachers.
When a church leader begins to lead in ministry, the sheep will instinctively put the shepherd on a pedestal. I’ve failed as a church leader if I predominantly hear, Zach said this, Zach said that, I love it when Zach said….…
I want it to be the Bible that is on the tongues of the people I get to serve. I’ve got nothing wise or good or helpful to say to them without the Bible being clearly laid out to others.
Church leaders are not supposed to convince people of their interpretation. They are supposed to invite as many as possible to give their sin and life to Jesus, and then invite them to examine the Scriptures together.
The ugliest, lowest moments of church history, were when the people trusted the church leaders to teach them the ways of God without having any desire or ability to check the Bible to make sure what was being taught wasn’t tradition or unbiblical. Churches split because leaders become enthralled with their bad interpretations of Scripture.
Is your church leader arrogant? Do they have close, truthful relationships? Do they take God seriously and themselves lightly or do they take themselves way too seriously and God lightly?
2. That they would not be Unkind.
Being a Christian leader is a balance between giving grace to the people and giving truth to the people. Grace comforts. Truth convicts. Both are needed. Jesus was the perfect balance of grace and truth. Your church leader is not Jesus.
Church leaders can have an obsession to be right. They’re like a harsh judge. It’s better to be preoccupied with being loving. Like a compassionate father.
When I digest the Gospel account I see people flocking to Jesus in a way they didn’t run to the Pharisees. They ate and traveled with Jesus in a way they didn’t want to spend their free time with the religious Scribes. It wasn’t primarily because of what Jesus knew, it was because He was loving. He actually cared about people.
Do you believe your church leader cares about you? Is your church leader unkind? Do they judge others or do they offer forgiveness? When someone stumbles do they give too much truth, or do they extend mercy?
3. That they would not be Hypocritical.
A good way for a church leader to not be duplicitous, is to read Matthew chapter 23 and put their first name in the place where Jesus is raking the Pharisees over the coals for their hypocrisy.
Not only did these religious leaders of the first century have rules outside of the Bible that they forced everyone to adhere to, but they weren’t following them either. It’s what religious people today do.
Do we need any more hypocrisy in the church? It doesn’t help the advancement of the Gospel when church leaders believe one thing and do another. God’s Spirit doesn’t work through hypocritical, unchanging leaders. God’s Spirit works effectively through humble, repentant, forgiven, changed leaders.
A pastor friend of mine and one of his elders were disciplining a church staff member who was caught investing his time unwisely into pornography. They set up counseling. They prayed with this minister. They set up accountability for him. They wanted restoration for him.
It came out later that the elder who was disciplining the church staff member, he himself was having an affair with a married woman in his church. That’s as religious as it gets when it comes to hypocrisy.
Your church leaders has sin. They struggle with temptation. They are blind to it. They hide it. They need prayer that God would humble them to repentance, because if not, He will humiliate them in their hypocrisy.
Is your church leader repenting and trying to grow in the likeness of Christ? Or do they act like they have it all together? Do they ever talk about their shortcomings?
4. That they would have Joy.
Is leading in the church fun to them or do they see it as a chore? Is it something they get to do or something they have to do?
I don’t know who put the word fun in fundamentalist, but that was foolish. They got the mental part right. How many religious, brow-beating leaders do you know where you think, Man, those are some happy people!
Following Jesus is a blast. Serving in the church is a privilege. Leading others – there’s nothing like it.
If your church leader’s definition of a joyous life is a furrowed brow, complaining lips and a gun loaded with accusations, then they need a hug. These are not happy people. They always share what they’re against. They’re always upset at someone and it’s not the mirror. There’s no joy.
They must’ve been baptized in vinegar.
If I’m the kind of dad that’s like this with my kids, they’re going to want to leave the house as soon as possible and go sin like crazy because at least that looks fun at first. I want to be a joyful dad and a joyful leader in the church but it begins by me living joyfully under the feet of Jesus. Daily. I get it, life is hard. Bad things happen. But the most effective leaders in the church are those who have been broken and ended up being thankful for it because they knew God was doing something to change them for the better and bring them closer to Him. Joy.
How many elders meetings have I been in where the excitement in the room was about what each elder was accomplishing at their job and not about the work that Jesus was accomplishing in them or in the church?
Look at your church leader’s family. Is there joy in their marriage? Do their kids have joy?
Look at how they react when God comes through for them or for others? Is there visible wonder?
Watch how they worship Jesus. Are they visibly grateful for the cross and the empty tomb or do they look robotic and uninterested?
5. That they would not be Power-Hungry.
The church is at her healthiest when we are submitting to one another as Jesus submitted to the Father. Church leaders have no authority except for the authority Jesus has graciously allowed them to borrow responsibly.
To have an unhealthy craving to be in charge, noticed, acknowledged, on top, is to not know the liberating freedom the Gospel brings. And to be power-hungry means it will never be enough.
How many church leaders want to be in leadership to show everyone how great they are instead of showing people how great Jesus is?
They might be meeting a lot. They might appear to be serving (to be noticed). They might be making tough decisions. But what is their motivation? Do they lead in the church humbly? Do they show a desperation for the grace of God? If not, they crave influence more than Christ and it will lead them down an unloving legacy.
Jesus isn’t Arrogant.
He’s humble and He expects us to be full of humility, to cloth our lives with it.
Jesus isn’t Unkind.
He’s compassionate and He expects us to be merciful toward others, even enemies.
Jesus isn’t a Hypocrite.
He’s authentic and He expects us to be genuine.
Jesus isn’t without Joy.
He’s full of joy and not matter your hardship, thank Him for today and have joy.
Jesus isn’t Power Hungry,
He’s lost-hungry. He came to save the lost. He’s power itself and we cannot change our lives or the lives of others with His power from His Spirit.
If you’re being sinful, Jesus forgives. If you’re being religious, knock it off. That should cover everyone reading this blog. If you’re breathing you’re either being filthy or are judging the filthy. I’m not sure how many online articles you’ve read and then took some quiet time to repent afterwards, but it might be a good idea to do that today. And while you are doing that, please pray for your church leaders.
Thanks for reading. You are loved.