Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, watching over them, not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples of the flock. 1 Peter 5:2-3
God appoints those who He has called to have charge over his people on the Earth. But what happens when our leaders misuse and betray that responsibility and trust of the congregation? Or when we are overlooked by our leaders because of fear or their lack of vision? Right now the body of Christ is not performing as the beautiful bride we ought to be and much of that is do to leadership. There are many pastors and leaders out there that abuse their anointing and positions over the things which God has called them to steward. They create more division than unity and more confusion than clarity. Many people who have come to salvation through Christ Jesus begin to falter away and completely abandon from that of which the church is supposed to be teaching because some of our leaders are leading very hypocritical lifestyles. They are judgmental, they are doing more gossiping than teaching the word, abusing the finances of the church and misrepresenting who Christ Jesus is and what He stands for. We are not the judge of anyone and we should be more receiving of people who are not in the faith that want to know about the faith or desire to step into the faith of believing in Jesus Christ.
When I first got saved, a really good friend of mine took me to their church. I was a little skeptical because over the course of my young life attending church, I felt that many made a mockery out of God's house and I was not going to be a partaker in such foolery. So I abstained from churches, but I felt this time was different. I could feel my spirit moving me to go and I could hear my spirit whisper, “Be open,” and so I went with no expectations. My heart was open and ready to receive whatever God had for me that night. It ended up being more than what I imagined and that was the day I got saved. Over the course of a year I started to notice things that were not really becoming of leadership and it started to rub me the wrong way. It seemed like it was more of a members only club and because I didn’t fit the mold, they only dealt with me because of my friend. I was made to feel like I was a bad person because I had not been married, but I had two children. Even though I did desire marriage, I didn’t desire to just jump into something that I held as sacred. I overheard things that were spoken in confidence being repeated to other members in the church. The actions of the leaders did not reflect that of which I was learning when I was in my personal time with God, so I was torn. It even went so far as to drive a wedge between my friend and I. Ultimately, my friend chose not to defend me. After a while, the wedge was so far between us that I didn’t want to go back anymore. My friend chose to stand by what the pastor and leadership was doing and saying while I chose to bow out. So me being emotional, I unfollowed everyone that attended the church and cut off my communication with them. Several people from the church would reach out to me but it was a mute point. My disappointment turned into hurt and it led me to not want to attend church anywhere, anymore.
When I had settled in Arizona, I attempted to find a good church home for my family and I, but it seemed that every church I would go to didn’t fulfill what I was looking for. I always found a “flaw.” That’s when God convicted me. He said that when I go to His house, I am to seek Him, not the pastor, not the worship team, HIM. At my old church I was working so hard to be liked and accepted in order to prove that I was anointed and called to be a leader. It distracted me so much that I missed the purpose of me being there. It was to seek God, to be restored, renewed and transformed. So, when I was seeking a new church home, I was operating out of hurt. I realized that it was not my responsibility to hold people hostage, it was my responsibility to pray for them. I didn’t realize I was punishing new leaders that were edifying me because of what my previous leaders had done. I was tying Gods hands to move me out of Egypt and into my promise land. I repented for my behavior and that repentance moved to forgiveness, which moved to praying for those who hurt me from my previous church. When I began to pray for them and honor them because at one point, they were edifying me and pouring into my dreams, I was able to move forward in my walk. I was able to find a church home that I could grow with and produce good fruit in what I had been called to do.
I learned that it is very important to not operate out of “church hurt.” Church hurt separates you from God. It creates a barrier between you and what God wants to do through you. We are called to pray for those whose intentions towards us are of ill will, not for them, but for us. God wants to know that we will not allow anyone to separate us from Him. He wants to see if you can do for someone else, what He does for you. I’m not saying that you have to take the abuse of what your church may be doing to you, but I would say to go before God and seek instructions on how to go about the situation. If your church leaders are doing the will of God by you and for you but there may be a breakdown in communication, go to them in honor and love and speak to them about your concerns. A great leader will listen to wise counsel. We also have to be careful to not place our leaders on this pedestal where they are so high that they can do no wrong. At the end of the day, even though they are anointed, they are still human and we all fall short of the glory of God.
I know that being hurt by our church leaders can do a lot of damage to a believer because when you are a believer and you have a friend that desires to know more about Jesus, they are going to trust and value what you say about attending church. However, if you’ve been hurt by your pastors and leaders at your place of worship, that is going to make your friend not even want to give their life to Christ because if the pastors wronged you, they assume that they will be wronged as well. We must always edify and correct anyone, including our leaders in love. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Get out of the belief that God only speaks to the pastors of the church. God can speak to anybody because He made everybody. Call on the name of Jesus and He will answer you.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Acts 2:17.
Continue to pray for your pastors and church leaders. Pray that their hearts be cleaned and made anew. That they walk uprightly in the Lord. The world already has a misrepresentation of who they think Christians are and we must come together and shift the perspective of how people view God. Don’t allow church hurt to keep you out of the will of God for your life and don’t let it keep you from fellowshipping with other believers. Remember, you don’t go to church for “them,” you go for Him. With all things use discernment and sound wisdom.
By: Etosha Bahaiddin