In my first post on this subject we looked at the truth that in most churches the people are unrestrained because of no revelation (Proverbs 29:18). This implies the great need for systematic exposition of the Scriptures in order to bring the church under the guidelines of God as revealed in His Word. Preaching expository sermons systematically through books of the Bible will yield great benefits both for the pastor and his congregation.
In my second post on this subject we looked at the question: how or why did most churches get unrestrained; how or why did they get out of control? The answer to that question gave us a clearer understanding of the root of the problem facing today’s churches. The people are unrestrained and get out of control when there is no restraint because of poor leadership (Exodus 32:1-28).
In this post we will begin to explore what the pastor should expect both positively and negatively as he begins to lead the church to function as God designed.
Expect certain rejection of God appointed authority (Numbers 16:1-50; Jude 8, 11c). As the faithful pastor begins to preach systematically through books of the Bible and hold his congregation accountable to God’s guidelines he is to expect certain rejection of his God appointed authority. Inevitably there will be those in his congregation who despise and reject authority and who would rather remain in a state of anarchy and confusion instead of humble submission to God’s guidelines and established authority. The faithful pastor will find out that his primary opposition will come from some of those already in leadership who will be unwilling to pay the price of bringing decency and order out of confusion and chaos.
Expect respected leaders to take action and oppose your leadership (Numbers 16:1-3; Jude 8, 11c). There will be those in leadership in your congregation that are well respected and looked to for spiritual leadership although they are not what the people think them to be – they are actually unqualified apostates who know nothing of the ways of God – and yet they will take action against your leadership as though they know what the Lord’s will is for His people (1). These leaders may have a fairly broad influence (2) and will be difficult opponents to leading the church to do God’s will God’s way. These are those who will perish in the rebellion of Korah (Jude 11) and who will bring many more down with them in their rebellion. They will demand equality among all the members and accuse the pastor of exalting himself above the congregation (3). Look for the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer to be taken out of context and used as a proof text.
Expect respected leaders to overstep their boundaries and attempt to seize control and leadership (Numbers 16:4-10). These are people whose real motive is to claim for themselves a position to which they have not been called or appointed – one that will afford them more authority and influence among the congregation. These people want to pastor the church even if it is from behind the scenes and even though they haven’t been chosen by God for such an assignment.
Understand that these people are really opposing the Lord and not you (Numbers 16:11). This should make you tremble for them. If they were simply opposing you then they would be in no danger. But since they are opposing the Lord they are in extreme danger. But expect and be certain that they don’t believe that they are opposing God – in their minds they are opposing you because they don’t understand the choosing and calling of God in the life of a pastor.
Expect that you will be accused of lording it over and failing in your God-given assignment (Numbers 16:12-14). These apostate leaders will oppose your leadership and authority ever chance they get (12). They will be quick to point out their perception that things were better before you got involved (13a) and that they believe you are lording it over them (13b). Not only that, they will expect quick results and because God isn’t in a hurry they will accuse you of failing in your God-given assignment (14a) and will accuse you of wanting to do harm to the leaders (14b).
Expect the apostate leadership to assemble the whole congregation against you (Numbers 16:15-19a). As you continue to lead the church to function as God designed you can expect the formation of a coalition against your leadership (19a). There will be all sorts of scheming and backbiting designed to turn the congregation against your leadership. You may think that pastoral ministry isn’t worth the effort because of the difficulties that you know and expect you must face. However, all isn’t negative!
Expect God to show up (Numbers 16:19b) – “And the glory of the Lord appeared to all the congregation!” Pastor, never forget that you are not alone and that God has promised that He will be with you. We will look at what to expect when God shows up in our next post on this subject.
For now, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1) and do what the Lord has called you to do.
Grace and peace!