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LORDING OVER THE FLOCK

All sorts of ways can be considered as controlling or lording the church. For example, a pastor who through preaching begins to scare or condemn his people into subjection. Twisting bible scripture or preaching a biased sermon only to produce a personal contrived message. This tactics of course, will only lead people to fear authority and submit not with a willing mind or heart. It can also lead Christians to hypocrisy or a bitter state. This kind of control often arises in a subtle way. Such pastors usually are aggressive in their preaching and manifest bitterness, rage and frustration. Which are not fruits of the Spirit, but instead reveal a carnal heart or emotional problem.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:23)

Worst of all, in situations where pastors dominate Christian behavior, the Christian's never mature in their walk, but take on the carnal character of their leader or worse. I know of one person, who clearly manifested his previous pastor's ministry by his attitudes and beliefs. His manner was further confirmed by his own boastful words as he spoke of his old church! This is very sad. Spending so many years in a man-dominated ministry resulted in an immature and biblically weak Christian. It seems when Christians are told what to believe or what should be their convictions, it stops them from studying the Bible to build their own foundations making evenmore the leaches of spiritual leaders.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the reason Paul stressed the importance of the pastor’s Christian walk, was that the church would no doubt follow the example given. Few Christians who are strong in the knowledge of God, will see the error and not mold to it. These instead in due time may leave the church or give up the struggle and become complacent, allowing it to continue without caring about the long term effects on themselves and others.

Remember, although you are a leader, your job is to MINISTER. When some disciples came to Jesus asking who would be first in the kingdom of God, He answered, "he that wants to be great, will be the servant of all." Even leadership falls under the umbrella of ministry. Leadership is based upon a great care for the well being of others. Like a father to his children, he will lead them as best as he could for their benefit. Some pastors think its the other way around and have the church minister to their personal needs. Give and you shall receive also applies here.

PREVENTION

How could a pastor prevent himself from loosing touch with his people and drift away from the Bible teachings? I believe the best thing a pastor could do, is to have men who know him well, be able to properly criticize him. I would exclude deacons as a choice if possible, since they may not be able to express freely their thoughts. But, if they are spiritually driven, they should naturally be the ones that deal with the pastor.

"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." (Proverbs 27:17)

Its not easy to receive criticism, but if a pastor cannot humbly accept and change when necessary, he is doomed to remain the way he is or worsen.

Sensitivity is a critical factor in knowing how the church feels and it must be practiced. Visiting members and asking questions to individuals can help prevent problems. No man of God should fear criticism if he truly seeks to do God’s will.

Arthur Miriello