Criticizing Leaders

When I was a little girl my mom faithfully took my sister and I to a small Lutheran church in Waldo, OH. Waldo is nothing more than one traffic light and a famous eatery.  But I remember as she faithfully drug us there every moment the church was open.  She was teaching us so much about being faithful in a local house.  One thing I remember was we were not allowed to get up and go to the bathroom if the pastor was preaching.  I know that it may sound legalistic to some, but my mother wanted to instill inside of us to honor the pastor.  We were taught to honor the speaker so much that we wouldn’t dare get up and walk out. I remember getting in trouble for being caught up in some drama with a leader and my mother grew angry with me for talking negatively about that leader.  As the years have taken me from that upbringing I found that kind of honor to a pastor or leader in the church to be rare.  I’ve watched how people bash leaders in the Christian church as self-appointed whistleblowers.  I’ve seen how they jump all over any faults minor or major.  I’ve watched how people of faith see nothing wrong with talking while a prophet is prophesying, or getting up and down while preaching for no emergency.  Where is the honor in all of that?

It seems to me that we have become a culture of people who have forgotten what honor means.  The definition of honor is to highly respect or esteem. Why does it seem that for the most part we no longer highly respect the leaders in our church? These are people that God has placed in our lives to train us up and equip us.

In the Bible, Numbers 12 paints an illustration of this.  Miraim and Aaron were stirring up drama against their brother Moses and God invites them all to go to the temple.  This is where God essentially says that Moses is His friend and they both get in trouble.  It seems to me that today so many people in a local church will think nothing of stirring up trouble against their local leaders or posting slander on social media against other men and woman of God.  Many times these self-appointed social media drill sergeants are coming against people that they know nothing about.  They only think they know brief snippets of what the media has skewed.  They are so ready to believe the worst in God’s children that they think nothing of hitting that share or retweet button.  Have many become a bunch of rebellious gossipy people under the mirage of social media? Am I just as bad when I don’t fact check an article before I share it?

There is another side to all of this.  We live in a time where there many leaders have made bad choices.  There are many leaders that have risen within some religious circles that have been off and people need to prayerfully and respectfully speak up.  Where is the balance in all of this?

Here’s my own personal checklist before I open my mouth or post an article:

  • Is what I’m doing bringing honor to God, or dividing His people? ‘A house divided cannot stand’ (Mark 3:25) Is me sharing some bit of news with another believer going to help their walk with God or is it going to make them run further and further from genuine leaders in the church?  Is the fruit of my social media, talks in the foyer, or getting up for no reason in the middle of service (Please note: I understand that sometimes it can’t be helped) helping people focus on the goal of uniting as a church or is it tearing people from hearing the gospel.
  • If I have a problem with a leader/person/or random individual I have never met, publically is not the Biblical way to handle it. Matthew 18:15-17 is some of the best council rarely headed in the typical Western church.  Go to the person if you have issues with them.  If you still can’t work it out bring in a 3rdparty.  Then after much private discussion is there to be a public one.  Too many people use their social media accounts to air their grievances with ministries.  The world looks at this, and pushes them further from the Church.  The church folk sees this and it pushes them further from getting to know that leader who just might be the ones that help them move further.  You have to stop allowing yourself to share your grievances with the world and start first behind closed doors.
  • If you have a problem with a leader, perhaps you should pray for them.  I know the concept seems completely foreign to some, but maybe they don’t have it all together and need a touch from God.  I always pray that if the problem is in me that God would change me, but if it’s in them God would talk to them.  This simple prayer has simmered many arguments that had potential to flare.  I have to be willing to admit that maybe I’m the one with the problem.  Matt 7:5 is a great scripture to point this out.  May we all remove the plank out of our own eyes before we try to remove the speck out of our brothers?

The world has seen enough church drama and gossip mongers.  They need to see a unified body working together.  We must show honor to the leaders that God has put in our lives.  We must believe the best in each other and stop trying so hard to fight against each other.  It’s time for the church to rise up in unity and blaze a trail that will inspire the world to join us, and not repel them from us. Instead of being like Miriam and Aaron in that moment when God had to correct them, may we be like Aaron and Hur (Ex 17:12) holding up our leaders hands, coming alongside of them, and running the race with them.

Anna M. Aquino is a published author, guest minister and prophetic voice. Her books: Cursing the Church or Helping It? Exposing the spirit of BalaamConfessions of a Ninja MomAn Ember In Time and A Marriage In Time are available wherever books are sold.  Please feel free to check out her website at annamaquino.com

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