Saturday, February 22, 2014

Rethinking When You Don't "Like" the Pastor

Sitting in different circles of women over the last few years, I've heard the same comment about various pastors.  The women often have one of two looks on their faces, either upturned nose, head-shaking disapprovingly back and forth OR a downward glance of the eyes, but their words are usually the same:

Oh, I don't like "him".

I've been both of these women, the upturned nose head shaker and the downward glancer.

Because one of my greatest sin tendencies is to fear man (caring more what people think of me than what God thinks), I rarely would say it but I thought it a few hundred times or so. Well, actually, I did say it once-in front of my pastor and a whole group of small group leaders. (Yes, I wanted to die after I said it.)  I didn't use the words, "I don't like him".  I'm not sure what I did say exactly, but the most truthful thing I could have said was:   He scares me, I don't trust him, and I know best how to protect myself from evil.

A little run down of the pastors...

First, James MacDonald.  My husband has listened to him for years and really appreciates his preaching/teaching. I was seriously afraid of him, which made it hard for me to listen and learn from him.  I would often picture myself standing in front of him while he screamed at me for doing something wrong.  And then, women around me, who I love and respect started quoting him, and I was like oh man, something is going on in this heart of mine.  I wanted to love him like everyone else did.  I wanted to listen to him and glean wisdom like they did.  Yet, there was a wall.

And then there's Mark Driscoll.  I've come to learn that one's affections for him are either love or hate, rarely an in-between.   At first, he seemed like such a jerk. He just made fun of people all.the.time.  However, as my fear of man subsided and my walls of "what's kind and nice" were broken down, I started learning so much from him.  He's taught me to laugh at the religion in my own life while killing it, sin is ridiculous, abuse is evil, my identity in Christ, God is a redeeming God, etc.  The list could go on and on.  I can see why Satan had a plan to keep me from listening to him.  As he's proclaimed the Word of God, who God is, I've continued to be set free in many areas.

Then, there's Steve Stoltzfus.  He's my pastor.  I don't think I would have ever consciously thought or said, "I'm scared of Steve," but I do recall as I look back now, always having to frame my view of him in light of how much he loved his wife and how much he loved his children because apart from that, I just wasn't sure. I've learned so much from him.  He's preached through Ephesians, Galatians, and Proverbs since we've come to Freedom Fellowship.  As he's proclaimed the Word of God boldly and apologetically, I've been set free in many areas.  Again, I can see why Satan would try and deceive me (along with my own sinful flesh) and try and make me believe I can't trust him.

God has been so faithful  to answer my prayers in this area, and now it is my absolute joy to listen to each of these pastors (still a little scared of James).  Something I wasn't sure would ever happen.  I had to humble myself, agree with God that I don't know everything (shocker!), and accept the wise counsel from those around me.


LIE:  My view of God was tainting my view of every single male in authority, especially those I didn't know very well.  I had concluded somewhere in some crevice of my mind that the abuse that happened to me as a child was from God and He just might hurt me again.  I wrongly concluded, they just might try and hurt me, too.
TRUTH: God is entirely GOOD.(ps. 119:68) Abuse is evil.  God does not ordain that his children be abused.  I don't understand how God is totally sovereign and yet grieves over the abuse of his creation (Is.61:8), but He does. I believe "What Satan intended for evil, God meant for Good" (see Joseph's conclusion of the evil done against him, Genesis 50:20)  I fully believe that God did not abuse me. I believe that one day God will set all things right. (Romans 12:19) I believe that he is a redeemer of all. That he restores that which the "locust has eaten" (Joel 2:25).   And yes, I do believe He is in total control and sovereign over all things ( Tim. 6:15).  I believe there are things about evil that I will never understand.  The sin I do and the sin done against me will never make sense.  Sin is ridiculous.

LIE:  I know better.
TRUTH:  My view that I "knew better" than God; let's call it what it is-PRIDE-inhibited me from seeing clearly.  I thought I knew how to protect MYSELF.  I thought I knew who I needed to listen to and what type of preacher I needed.

LIE:  You can't trust God to put men in authority over you, to teach you.
TRUTH:  Satan hates the bold proclamation of God's Word and Godly, self-denying, gracious, loving, men in authority.  Of course, he'll do anything he can to make us mistrust God.  He started with Eve, tried it with Jesus, and continues to try it with God's children today.

May we entrust ourselves to the only one who is trustworthy.
May we be free to learn from the preachers God puts in our lives as they boldly proclaim the Word of God.
May we be free to enjoy listening to preachers. (And we may not agree with every opinion he has.  That's okay.)

You may not have been abused, I sincerely hope you weren't, but each of us have "stuff" we deal with. Each of us have lies we believe about God, which distorts our view of reality.  And none of us had perfect fathers and many of us haven't had fathers at all, which can have a profound affect on how we see men in our lives.

May the Lord reveal his GOODNESS to us. May we see Him as He is, not as we "think" He is. May we free to love, honor, respect, and listen to other preachers without fear, without pride.

May we fear the Lord and not man.  Fear Him in an "awe and reverence", knowing we are his precious daughters, kind of way.  That he delights in us and sings over us.  Because we are hidden in His Son, Jesus Christ (Col. 3:3).