I have great respect for the pastors who have been over me.
I’ve been teaching God’s word for a long time, but have never sensed the call to be a pastor. If all being a pastor meant was teaching God’s word, I could probably do that. But a pastor is called to do much more in shepherding the flock God has given them.
We forget that sometimes. And not only do they have the responsibility of shepherding the church, they have the everyday responsibility of shepherding their families as well.
These are heavy responsibilities. And most take them seriously. For they know that one day they will answer to God for what they have done. And because of the specific responsibilities they have over God’s flock, they are held to higher account than most people.
And so the writer of Hebrews tells us,
Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage of you. (17)
Like I said, being a pastor is tough as it is. It becomes even tougher when his own flock starts sniping at him. Criticizing him. Tearing him apart for every mistake that he makes. Questioning every decision he makes in leading the church.
The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Don’t do that. Follow them. Submit to their authority.”
Why? Because God is the one that gave them that authority. And ultimately, he is the one they are accountable to. He is the one who will judge them if they go off the right path, not you.
When we are constantly criticizing and tearing down our pastors, their job becomes a burden instead of the joy God intends it to be. And that is not only bad for them. But it’s also bad for us. Instead of being able to focus on all the things God has called them to do, they are forced to put out all the fires in the church.
And all the while Satan laughs.
So don’t be a part of that.
Is there no room, then, for criticism of a pastor? Certainly there is.
If they’re getting into false teaching, they must be confronted. If they’re neck deep in sin and immorality and will not repent, they must be confronted. And Paul deals with such situations in I Timothy 5.
But if you’re simply dealing with differences of opinion, in the direction of the church, in how things are run, etc., follow the leader God has given you. It’s entirely possible that they see things that you cannot.
And if your pastor does make a mistake in these things (and they inevitably will)? Don’t snipe. Don’t criticize. Build them up. Encourage them. And above all, pray.
The writer of Hebrews said,
Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. (18)
Most pastors are the same. Even though they feel like they have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way, they still fall. They still make mistakes. So pray for them.
What is your attitude toward your pastor?