Being a preacher is an incredibly challenging and extremely rewarding. I get to see people at their best during weddings, baptisms, graduations, anniversaries and on Sunday. Numerous people are praying for me daily, and I have people who regularly bless my life just because I am the preacher. I am truly blessed beyond measure.
Then there is the other side of ministry. The ugly side that makes me questions my calling to preach and lead a Church. Here are some of the things I find that make ministry difficult.
1. Gossip & Slander. The Bible lists these as sins, but we seem to accept them today as a part of life. The truth is that they are very destructive. I have seen people’s lives torn apart because someone was spreading stories about another person or group. The issue is not always whether the story is true or false. The damage is done because it is judgmental, mean, divisive and does not bring healing. Every time you spread a “secret” you are slowly destroying the kingdom of God, and it upsets me as your preacher.
2. Criticize Leadership Decisions to Everyone. First, I am not saying the leadership of the Church is above reproach, that is far from the truth. I have seen the leadership make enormous mistakes in their judgment at times. Even when they make a bad decision, frequently the criticism that follows is the most destructive thing. Public criticism is not the way of Jesus. He confronts people to their face and gathers all the facts. His way seeks forgiveness and unity.
The flip side to this issue is also important. Most of the time in decisions the leadership has far more information than the average Church member. For example, I once had a lady criticize the fact that we didn’t help a family who had a particular need. What the lady didn’t know is that the leadership had met with the family. We had helped them once in a big way and then offered financial counseling and they denied it. We did not want to run this family down, so we decided to keep quiet and let people criticize what they knew very little about. Many decisions are the result of numerous discussions, prayer and situations you might not know completely. Dividing the Church through constant public criticism is very upsetting to me as a preacher.
3. Create Unnecessary Conflict. I understand that some conflict is necessary. We need to confront sin. We need to push people toward growth. Sometimes we need to make difficult decisions. Those conflicts are expected, and I am prepared to handle those issue. The ones that upset me are the conflicts over unnecessary topics. The decorations, the paint color, the clothes I wear, the carpet, the coffee, my office hours and insurance company we use are not reasons to start a fight. Those are minor parts to the big purpose of Church. And yet, these are the things I have experienced in most Churches fights. Creating conflict over non-Biblical issues always make me frustrated.
I know there are other issues that build walls in my ministry relationships but these are the biggest to me. Interestingly enough these issues always involve the mouth. The people who spend more time talking than doing are often the biggest source of headache. Maybe the question for today is simply, “Are my words helping the Church or hurting it?” If you are not sure, ask your preacher, he will tell you.