We Can Take the Heat–But Not From You

Last week a promising young pastor who served a large church in California committed suicide. His death has rightly caused shock, concern, and grief among church leaders all over the country. We are immediately filled with questions. What was going on in his mind and heart? What was he going through?

His wife has made amazing statements that have no doubt blessed and helped their church and encouraged so many others of us.

What should we do to help our leaders?

First, we can encourage and support those who lead. Thom Rainer, the head of Lifeway Christian Resources, wrote an impassioned blog yesterday exhorting lay leaders to stand alongside their leaders. It is well written and makes some points that all lay leaders should consider. You can find his article at ThomRainer.Com. Leaders, especially young leaders, need the encouragement of mature leaders in the church. Rainer encourages those leaders to stand with their ministers in tough times.

Second, make sure that your criticism is well-founded and is for the purpose of building up those who lead. I remember a difficult time in our church when we were making changes. I went to our deacons and said, “We [the pastors] can take the heat–but not from you.”

This is what I meant. We need you. We need you to stand in encouragement and support. We need you to help us lead the church. Others may criticize, but we need you to help us bring the church together.

Third, obey your leaders. The writer of Hebrews gave this exhortation and command. “Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).

This is the way I take this verse. Be agreeable and helpful so that the leader can lead with joy. The leader will give account of his leadership to God. Make sure you help the leader with this difficult responsibility.

Finally, pray for your leaders. I often tell my church members I am sustained by the prayers of God’s people. Your pastor is as well. Pray for your leaders. Let their leadership be a joy and not an undue burden. If you pray for them, you and your church will be blessed as well.

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