For many years we belonged to a church we loved. Attending felt like being in a second home. Participating in activities meant feeling connected. They were our family.
We stayed for many years through a number of shake ups, which led to many of our friends leaving. We stayed because God didn’t ask us to leave or release us from being a part of this messy community filled with sinners. Which we all are.
Sadly, our time eventually came to an end several years back.
Our departure came after much prayer, incredible muddiness, several meetings and attempts to work towards resolution. It was a painful stretch and we sought help from others to help us navigate. In the end, we were released and it was time to move on.
There was so much confusion, and so many things misunderstood or misinterpreted. The enemy would have loved for us to be angry and bitter, and I think I was to some degree. But, in typical Jo fashion, I took on hurt instead.
Honestly, I didn’t harbor ill will. I did however, come to grips again with my need to fight the enemy head on. To seek truth over lies, repeatedly.
Confusion is not something that comes from God. For there to be so much of it in this situation meant one thing – the enemy was actively playing a role.
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. ~ I Corinthians 14:33
In the muddle, my mind wanted to focus on accusations against the leaders & pastors, rather than pray for them. Rather then see the enemy for the work he was doing to cause this rift. Although I wanted to judge hearts, the truth is that it’s not my job to do so.
My role is to seek God, hear His voice & respond to what He says for me, and for our family. I need to recognize there’s an enemy and actively fight his attacks.
Before this time ever came to be, our church had experienced a split. I didn’t know the details, nor did I want to, but there seemed to be a lot of hard feelings, bitterness and certainty that each new sector was the right one. Years later our pastor admitted to an affair of some degree.
Repeatedly, there was hurt. Failings. Open doors for the enemy to make us see the worst in each other.
But staying fixated on Jesus and His word means looking to Him when things don’t make sense and when anger starts to rise up. Often, our hurt and anger are indicators that something’s going on which we need to deal with.
We found a new church home pretty quickly. It became our new family and we were thrilled. It’s full of hurt people, those who’ve made huge mistakes, the immoral and the judged, the spiritually mature and the ones stuck in immaturity.
And it’s glorious.
We’re a mess of broken people united by the workings of the Holy Spirit. I’ve never seen such a community of diverse people, in virtually every sense of the word, come together to worship the way this bunch does.
Yet, just as varied as we are culturally, socio-economically, politically and generationally, we are also sinners of varying kinds, beautifully pieced together through the redemptive work of Christ.
In every church body of believers, and for the church as a collective whole, there is an array of battered, bruised, wounded, scarred, stubborn, prideful, know-it-all, never-right, shame-filled, failure-ridden, imperfect people.
Like me and you.
Leading them are people who are much the same.
Hopefully the leaders are more emotionally and spiritually mature. Hopefully they seek the Holy Spirit to guide them. Hopefully they love each other and respond humbly with accountability. Hopefully, they honor the Word and the truths of God the best way they can with a full measure of grace and adherence to the Gospel, which is good news to all who believe.
Hopefully they get it right, but sometimes they don’t.
Some failings cause more harm than others. Some need firmer consequences than others. And some require guidance, direction and training.
Yet, they too are broken, messy & beautiful sons and daughters of Christ, born to bear His image. Born to be in community with others. To love and be loved. Fallen and in need of God’s redemption.
They bear the wounds of being unappreciated, of church grumbling, the demands of many, the confrontations a plenty, personal failures & the times when their best efforts fell short of the mark, again and again.
Through it all, every single one is valued. Immensely. At least by God.
What about by us? Do we remember that they are created and imperfect too? Do we remember that they need Jesus too? Do we value who they are as loved by God?
Sometimes I think we forget our own brokenness and forget the tendencies for other humans to need God’s grace & redemption just as much as we do. Especially, when they wear the label, pastor.
They carry a heavier load, and bear a great weight of responsibility, but they are humans just the same.
They’re the ones carrying the burden’s in their hearts for a congregation full of hurting people. Would you you share there burden, even if just a little, by remembering how valuable they are?
If you find that your pastor is wearing a little thin, would you pray? If you find that he seems to be going astray, would you pray? If you find that he or she is simply wonderful, would you pray? And not just today, but every day.
FAITH PURSUITS: How can you pray for your imperfect pastor’s and church leaders today? Would you share here, and then let them know they are appreciated and prayed for?
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[Tweet “I value my pastor & church leaders. Thank you for all you do. #pastorappreciation”]
[Tweet “When I’m broken & failing, Lord, help me to remember we all need you. #pastorappreciation”]
Thank you for joining me in #31DaystoBelieve as we pursue what we believe and how it impacts our lives.
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May we learn to #livewell.