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Pastors Are Human!

Most of us have heard comments like these from church members:
"Our pastor is a good man, but…"
"Our pastor is an excellent teacher, but …"
"Our pastor has a wonderful personality, but…"

It seems there is always something about their pastor that people don't like.
"He's a capable Bible teacher, but he is not evangelistic."
"He is a powerful preacher, but a poor pastor."
"He works well with the older folks, but the younger people just don't like him."

In almost every church there seems to be a group who, although making some favorable comments,
cannot restrain themselves from pointing out the shortcomings of their pastor.
As a result, many pastors are waging a difficult and discouraging battle against sin and Satan.
They are doing their best, but members of their own congregation are back-stabbing their pastors
with their unfounded criticism.
Then, they wonder why the church is not being blessed and is not growing.

The reason for this unhappy situation in many churches is due to a misunderstanding
of the nature and work of the pastor.
So I would pray that these studies of the pastor and his church members will be used
of God to give us and them a better understanding of these problems,
and will create harmony and love in the local church.

Although this passage from John describing the work and ministry of John the Baptist
is not speaking specifically of pastors, it does present some principles which apply
to every servant of God, whether he is an evangelist, a missionary, a Bible teacher,
or the pastor of a local church.

The apostle John presents a guide for us by which every true servant of God can be identified
as he presents the qualifications of John the Baptist.
So, let us look at these verses from John 1:6-8:
"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light
."

Three things are mentioned about John the Baptist that should be true of every genuine servant of God.

1. He was a man.
John was not an angel or a supernatural person.
John was a human being just like us.
So, verse 6 begins with the words, "There was a man…"

2. We are told in verse 7 that John was "sent from God."
He was distinguished from others in that he was a specially chosen vessel.
He was God-sent.

3. Verse 7 tells us that this "man sent from God" came to "bear witness of the Light."
In Other Words, John was sent by God to preach Christ as the promised Messiah,
and the Saviour of sinners.

In this passage, three facts about God's chosen servant, John the Baptist, are clearly seen:
(1) He had human limitations, for he was only a man.
(2) He had divine authority, for he was "sent from God."
(3) He had a divine commission to preach Christ, for he came "to bear witness of the Light."

These three characteristics should be seen in every God-called pastor.
Pastors are men with human imperfections.
They are man sent from God, and they have a divine calling to preach Christ.
If and when we comprehend these truths and all their implications,
much of the difficulties, the misunderstandings, and the frictions that poison the relationship
between congregations and their pastors will be eliminated.

So, first, let us consider the fact that all members are merely men,
and that they have the very same mortal weaknesses as others.
John 1:6 states, "There was a man…"

In this short phrase we have a description of all the servants of the Lord.
God has ordained that men, in spite of all their faults and shortcomings,
should be the channels through which the Word of God is proclaimed to others.
We should be amazed at God's choice.

I have often wondered why God called me.
I am an unworthy vessel, to preach the good news of salvation.
He could have sent angels to minister the Word.
He might have created special emissaries and sent them from heaven to deliver His message.

They could have done a perfect job, and no one could complain or criticize.
No one could have said, "They are effective in some ways, but…"
And yet, God saw fit to choose men!
He takes us -- those who were born totally depraved and in need of a Saviour.
He takes us who are the very objects of His saving grace, and places us in a privileged position
to preach the glorious message of redemption to others.

Paul commanded Timothy: "And things that thou hast heard from me among many witnesses,
the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also
." (2 Timothy 2:2)

Pastors are only men, with all the sins and failings that people have.
Yet this seems to be forgotten when making our demands upon them, their lives, their work,
and their ministry.
As a result, there are many in our churches today who are continually criticizing their pastors
with comments like: "Our pastor is a wonderful person, but…"
"He's a good preacher, but he just doesn't know how to deal with people."
"Our pastor is a deep student of God's Word, but he is poor administrator."

I read where one lady said:
"Our pastor is a real man of God.
He practices what he preaches.
His life is above reproach.
But you just can't get close to him.
You just don't feel free to call him by his first name
."
That woman might have just as well said,
"I believe he is a consecrated, dedicated student of the Word, an outstanding servant of God;
but I just don't like him
."

Even devoted Christian leaders in the church fail to recognize that every pastor is only a man.
Although given a divine call and possessed of wonderful spiritual qualifications,
he is just a man.
He is just a human being like everyone else, and so he can't possibly conform
to the ideal pattern some might try to fit him.

There are many today who overlook the fact that pastors are subject to the same limitations,
and imperfections that are common to everyone.

So, in many places when a pastor is called to the church, he is expected to have superhuman,
almost supernatural qualifications.
He must be a good speaker.
He must be a deep Bible student.
He must be a spirited, passionate evangelist.
He must be a compassionate pastor.
He must be a man with the wisdom of Solomon.
He must be a man with a pleasing personality.
He must be a good-looking man.
He must have be compatible with all the members of the church.
He must be a good businessman.
He must be an effective and efficient administrator.
He must be creative and original.
This list could go on and on.
Pity the poor preacher who fails at any one of these descriptions of him.
It will also be said, "He does have some good points, but…"

Some years ago, I read an article entitled "Qualifications of a Good Pastor" in a church bulletin.
This article points out many unreasonable demands that are often placed upon God's servants.
That article says:
"A good pastor must have:
The strength of an ox
The tenacity of a bulldog
The daring of a lion
The wisdom of an owl
The harmlessness of a dove
The industry of a beaver
The gentleness of a sheep
The versatility of a chameleon
The vision of an eagle
The hide of a rhinoceros
The perspective of a giraffe
The disposition of an angel
The endurance of a camel
The stomach of a horse
The loyalty of an apostle
The faithfulness of a prophet
The tenderness of a shepherd
The passion of an evangelist
The devotion of a mother
And even then, "he would not please everybody!"

Remember, the Bible says, "There was a man."
As a man, your pastor cannot be and cannot do everything to perfection.
He will have his failings, and shortcomings, simply because he is only a man.

In 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 Paul wrote:
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh,
not many mighty, not many noble, are called;
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise;
and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen,
yea, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
That no flesh should glory in his presence
."

So, don't expect your pastor to be perfect or expect him to excel in every area of the ministry.
Don't act so shocked when you discover that he is not an outstanding Bible teacher,
a passionate evangelist, a compassionate pastor, an inspiring preacher, an able administrator,
and a shrewd businessman all wrapped up in one person.
The Lord Himself doesn't demand that much of him.

The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:1:
"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy
of the vocation to which ye are called
."
Then in verse seven, he says, "But unto every one of us is given grace
according to the measure of the gift of Christ
."
And then, in verses 11 and 12, Paul makes this observation:
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists;
and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ
."
(Ephesians 4:1, 7, 11, 12)

God gave to some the ministry of apostleship.
Some of these people were also prophets, but not every prophet was an apostle.
To others God gave the gift of evangelism, which in the first century consisted of
establishing new churches in areas where the Gospel had not been preached.

Others were given the gift of pastor and teacher, and to them was entrusted the task
of ministering to the saints for their edification and spiritual growth.
These offices and gifts were distributed among many believers.
Yet churches today often require that all of these capacities be found in the one man
that they call to be their pastor.
However, such demands can only lead to disappointment for those who make them,
and bring frustration to the pastor upon whom these abilities were expected.

And much better, more practical, and certainly far more realistic is to recognize
that every servant of the Lord has been endowed with some special gift for a particular ministry.
Encourage your pastor to cultivate and use his gifts, and refrain from complaining
if he fails in other respects.
Thank God for the abilities and qualities he has, rather than criticizing him
for the gifts that he may not possess.

I believe that every true minister of the Gospel will readily admit
to his own shortcomings and weaknesses.
I believe that he is amazed how God could ever use him.
He prays every day for compassion and strength to carry on.
He asks the Lord to give honor to his feeble efforts so that his labor may be fruitful.

Speaking of his own ministry, the apostle Paul said,
"And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.
Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we, an incorruptible.
I, therefore, so run, not as uncertainty; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air;
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, less that by any means,
when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway
." (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)

With all of this in mind, then I would urge you to pray for your pastor.
Don't criticize him.
If you must talk to someone about him, talk to God.
Tell the Lord about him, and leave the problem with Him.

If anyone needs the intercessory prayers of God's people today, it is pastor.
I don't know of another work in all the world that can be so demanding and yet so discouraging.
I can think of no other occupation that gives us so many opportunities for failure.

The pastor not only faces the temptations of his own sinful nature and the world,
but he also faces the criticism of him by sanctified church members, and by the hatred of sinners.
He is also a special target of Satan who delights when the pastor is hurting
and on the verge of giving up.

How long has it been since you shook your pastor's hand and expressed
your gratitude for his ministry.
You would be surprised and probably shocked, if you knew how he ministers
and works for weeks and months without the slightest bit of encouragement.
For some reason, people think the preacher doesn't need a good word like other people do

But even as you like a pat on the back for a job well done, your pastor also rejoices
in the expression of your appreciation – not praise that would inflate his ego and pride,
but a word of thanks for his faithful ministry of the Word.
We must never forget the lesson from John 1:6, "There was a man."
God uses such men to "bear witness of the Light."

So never forget that your pastor is just a man.
He is just a human being like you.
He is a fallible human being, but God has entrusted His infallible Word to that man.
Therefore, he has a great message to proclaim, and you are under obligation to heed the exhortations
and follow the guidance which come from the Scriptures and from the pastor to you.

Remember, that although the man may be fallible, the message he preaches
from the Word of God is infallible.
It may not concern you what other ministers or I may say, but it is essential
that you listen to what God says.
In the Bible, God tells us that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,"
and that "the wages of sin is death."
And, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life
."

Have you ever received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour?
If not, I pray that you will do so today.

"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already,
because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
(John 3:17, 18)

This message was adapted by Dr. Harold L. White