Ah the man Moses, I spoke of Moses this Sunday. Moses, by his own admission, granted written under divine inspiration, was the meekest man on the face of the earth. I totally love Moses, I see him as a model pastor, a model of patience and forbearance. Yet, on at least one occasion, his patience snapped, he totally lost it. After his flock had again ungratefully groaned, grumbled and griped about their circumstances while painting a rosy picture of their previously miserable existence in slavery, Moses had had it. He bitterly complained to God about the unfair treatment God had meted out to him by asking him to take care of these people, after all he said ‘Did I conceive all these people!. Did I give birth to them?’ (God’s Word translation : ‘Am I their mother?’) Why must I be saddled with them? That is making it real.
Pastors and leaders pour their lives out for people, listen to their stuff, pray for them, teach them the word, carry them through hard times; and often have to bear the brunt of their discontent. Many, like Sisyphus interminably rolling his boulder up the hill, consider it their lot to grin and bear the same foolishness over and over; see the same people stubbornly repeating the same stupid things, and yet never a word of rebuke, it’s smiles galore. Now that is either extreme holiness, or extreme foolishness and hypocrisy.
Pastors, let’s keep it real. We all know that people are often lovely, generally delightful, mostly beautiful, but also sometimes difficult, annoying and exasperating. Put it down to the fallen human condition if you will, but let’s not pretend otherwise. Too many pastors become discouraged or leave the ministry because they cannot cope with the pressure from dealing with so many impossible people while feeling obliged to pretend it’s ok. If people are being a pain, they need to be told. Punching bag, in principle, is not in your job description.
Oh yes, truth be told: there are those times when, like Moses, you think, give me a break, ‘I am not your mama!’ If you are not honest enough to admit it or you think there is something wrong with you because you feel that way and you start feeling guilty, you are setting yourself up, at worst for a fall, and at best to be manipulated. You will find yourself checking your approval ratings with people who need a good whack on the backside; while in the meantime neglecting those who are the sweetest and most endearing.
This idea that meekness and pastoral niceness means playing doormat is alien to scripture. The Bible portrays a different picture. Believers are required to bless leaders so that their work will not be a burden. What will happen if everyone decided to help, encourage their leader, get to church on time, do their share of the work of the ministry diligently, be a blessing and not a pain, an encourager and not a complainer and just be grateful for all that God does in their lives through the ministry? Your guess is as good as mine. Paul often spoke of the joy that he had in thinking of certain believers, they were certainly not of the gripe, groan and grumble stripe. It is up to us what type we are.