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My prayer is that the church will speak out more than we are currently. I’m not just talking about leaders but all of us. No more self-censoring. We need to become busier in more redemptive measures for spreading the fame of Christ by providing a better answer to the depravity of humanity that confronts and speaks into their utopian impossibilities.
I have been proactively praying, thinking, talking, and implementing what I believe to be the right ideas and strategies for this ministry, knowing that when they turn their attention to us, we could be “out of business” in a moment or face legal challenges because of what we teach, i.e., conversion therapy—as they call it, etc. I have been meditating this week on the famous quote from Polycarp just before they burned him to death.
Eighty and six years have I served Christ, nor has He ever done me any harm. How, then, could I blaspheme my King who saved Me? I bless Thee for deigning me worthy of this day and this hour that I may be among Thy martyrs and drink the cup of my Lord Jesus Christ.
The pressure on our pastors is multifaceted; it’s protecting the flock, keeping their jobs, and trying not to go to jail, to mention three things. If these complexities confronted any of us, how would we respond? It would be different for each one of us for sure.
The pressure and perplexity that pastors face and foresee are staggering. Nobody could have predicted the severity of our culture’s desire to dominate us. It’s a full-frontal, unapologetic assault on our liberties, and each person will process how to react to what the government is doing to them differently.
There is a lot of noise from Christians about wearing masks or not wearing them or how we “do church.” I’m not minimizing these things at all. I’ve done several podcasts, written articles, and produced videos on these subjects. The culture, in typical fashion, is more proactive, while Christians are more reactive.
A pastor wears many hats. The most vital are the hats of husband and father. He, like us, has a family that he loves and wants to care for in the best possible ways. He also has the church that he loves with all his soul. The combination of these things can create 24/7 pressure. The typical believer can leave his job at the end of the day and not carry it home with him. Not so with a pastor.
There is no sphere of his life where he’s not carrying the weight of those he loves, whether it’s family or the local church. The weight is enormous, but you get used to it. Then the culture begins bearing down on you with pressure tactics and political maneuvers, which are all designed to harass you. Their ultimate goal is to shut you down.
Typically, when these pressures arise, the sheep become agitated and frightened. The shepherd is weighing and balancing family, friends, and flock. Some of them can do this well. Others struggle. No two pastors are the same. One of the things that help me is to put myself in their shoes.
Every Christian should be praying daily for the leadership of their churches. We must carry them in our hearts. If we’re not carrying them in our hearts, whatever disagreements we have with them will complicate their lives unnecessarily.
You don’t have to agree with all your pastor’s decisions. I’m not suggesting blind authoritarianism or lock-step adhesiveness that minimizes the excellent work of the Spirit in your life. But if the person with whom you disagree is not first and foremost in your heart, whatever your differences are, they will divide you, not unify.
The Christian’s goal is not to create even a hairline crack in the local body. Regardless of where you land on secondary issues, you cannot contribute to any division in the body. There is a proper way to disagree and discuss. —Rick Thomas
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Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.Net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology, and in 1991 he received a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).