July 11, 2009

The Right Spirit Toward Spiritual Leaders

Written By Cary Schmidt

There are two very different attitudes towards spiritual leaders. Some Christians seemingly never see anything good, and in fact have given themselves over to criticism and fault-finding. While other Christians opt to be prayerfully and joyfully supportive and encouraging toward leaders. Which position have you taken in life? Just a couple of quick thoughts to challenge your thinking:

1. Spiritual Leaders Need Encouragement and Support—they are just as human as you and I, and they have opted to carry a larger burden in life—the burden of public scrutiny and influence. Influence brings with it both blessings and burdens, but the burdens are greater. A leader’s easiest path would be to leave the podium and re-enter private life away from the scrutiny of others. If you have a leader who has embraced the burden of influence, make that burden lighter by being an encourager.

2. My Spiritual Leaders Have Always Looked Past More Faults in Me Than I Have in Them—critics always miss their own faults because they are so consumed with the faults of others. Encouragers are not blind to the faults of leaders, they just recognize that the ground is level at the cross. I’m grateful that God has filled my years with spiritual leaders and influencers who have been patient with me. They have always put up with more faults in me than I have in them—that’s for sure. Before you get too critical of a leader, take a close look at what your leader has to put up with in you.

3. Anybody Can Find Fault, but Wisdom and Maturity Chooses Encouragement—critics amuse me because they really think that they are the only people who really “get it.” Everybody else is an idiot. They forget that anyone with an IQ of 10 can find a problem or a fault. Faults are everywhere in all of us—welcome to the fallen human race. The only reason anything happens for Christ is that people choose to love each other and labor together in spite of their faults.

4. Whatever You Do, Don’t Join the Dark Side—unmet expectations, unrealistic expectations, or a lack of focus on Christ can lead to deep bitterness. That root of resentment will defile your whole life, rob your joy, and defile others as you share it, gossip about, post about, etc. What a tragic way to live even five minutes of life!  Time is too precious to give to such destructive living.

Recently I was reading a biography of a great influencer. The author shared this quote about this spiritual leader who had greatly influenced her. It makes a nice period to the point of this post:

“Keep your eyes only on Jesus. Never, ever, ever eulogize spiritual leaders and put all of your confidence and trust in them. It is so easy to criticize and find flaws in leaders, especially those who are doing the most for God’s kingdom. It is so easy to be critical and judgmental. There can be hurt feelings, disillusionment, and bitter roots that begin to grow. Satan is at the constant ready to infiltrate, weaken, undermine, ridicule, hurt us, and destroy the effectiveness of God’s servants.

I think of the words of the chorus: ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.’ If you are carrying around a grudge or hurt feeling against one of God’s servants, get rid of it. Confess, repent, and change your focus.”

Today—why not live your life with a right spirit—a spirit of support and encouragement toward someone in spiritual leadership!

“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:”
(2 Thessalonians 3:1)