You may call yours pastor, some preacher, other their minister, but if you’re a regular church goer, you’ve got someone who leads your church in preaching and teaching.
I happen to call my minister, husband. God has appointed me to be the wife of one of his messengers. I’m married to man who has dedicated his life to the preaching of the gospel and serving churches. It’s a life that I desired since I became a Christian some twenty years ago, but I really didn’t know what I was in for.
Many of us look to the preacher as the face of the church. He’s the representative of what the church stands for. With that burden, comes hundreds, even thousands of opinions of what that should look like. Too often I hear complaints, not just from my church, about the preacher.
- He’s not personable enough.
- He didn’t come see me in the hospital.
- His lessons are too long.
- His preaching is too dry.
- He didn’t shake my hand.
As these complaints settle in the heart of the complainer, they grow disgruntled. Many of these complaints lead people to give up on their church and go find one that fits their needs better. Maybe that’s even been you.
As a woman who see’s behind the door of a minister there are somethings I think you should you know from my experience.
Unless you lead a church, you will never know the burden that man is carrying.
Paul said, “For my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them” (Rom. 9:3). I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if my husband is quite ready to swap souls for you, but he wants to be there. I’ve watched him fast for weeks, giving up food, so that he could be open to hearing God’s leading in his life. I’ve witnessed him endure days of sleepless nights over a wandering sheep. I’ve seen him weep tears for a weary brother. He sacrificed his money, time, family, and his will for the good of church that God has placed him in.
Leading Spiritually Comes at a Cost.
Paul expressed his fears openly for the church. “For I am afraid that when I come I won’t like what I find, and you won’t like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior. Yes, I am afraid that when I come again, God will humble me in your presence. And I will be grieved because many of you have not given up your old sins. You have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure.” (2 Cor. 12:20-21).
The cost of leadership often comes in the form of God’s humbling. My husband prays over, ponders, and meditates on ways and methods to help sinners be transformed. But the fact is, some of them don’t want to be. After months, even years of teaching and serving a person, my husband has felt the sting of their betrayal and the grief of their departure from Christ. By no means, does he take their eternal salvation lightly. He has said before, “Dealing with physical death is nothing compared to a spiritual one.”
Self-Denial is a Must.
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith” (Phil. 3:7-9).
My husband sacrificed a career, financial stability, privacy, and relationships in his obedience to God’s call to minister. The transformation is a long, painful process. My husband didn’t just wake up one day and I say, “Let’s give our lives to ministry” and God paved a clear path. Our road has been filled with hardships that have forced us to stop relying on ourselves and rely on the Savior.
Self-Denial is a Battle.
The same apostle who wanted to give up his soul for his brethren, who grieved over their sin, and counted his own life as garbage also said this:
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin (Rom. 7:21-25).
I have watched the battle between the flesh and spirit waged in my husband’s soul. I have seen God crush him to rid “self” from his thinking. I have seen Satan attack his mind and torment him. I have also seen God deny him relief from anxiety and panic disorders, much like Paul’s thorn in the flesh. “So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud” (2 Cor. 12:7). God continues the refining process day by day.
Teachers Will Be Severely Judged.
“Not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly” (Ja. 3:1). That judgment is eternal. And my husband lives with that reality every day. God is watching him closely. His words, motives, teaching, and heart will all be judged before the throne of God one day with more severity than you or I will face.
So, the next time you criticize, question methods or motives, instead of complaining about my husband, please hold your tongue and just pray for him. Instead of an obstacle, be an encouragement. Instead of a critic, a supporter. When he needs corrected, by all means do so, but please do it in a manner of understanding love, because you have no idea what it’s really like to be him.