Ezekiel 34:2, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?”
Sometimes in the church people get hurt and wounded because of the mistakes and shortcomings of the leadership. As a result, the church has “wounded warriors” and “suffering saints.” By no fault of their own these precious children of God go through hardships because of what others did to them.
As a pastor and leader I myself have been hurt and let down by other leaders. Two of the first pastors I looked up to when I first was saved divorced their wives and hit “reset” with their churches because of it. One even had an affair with the church secretary and actually expected the church to continue to follow him. Another time in Bible College my favorite professor got fired for lacking integrity and wasn’t even allowed to come back and say good-bye.
When I was a young pastor in New Orleans I held my first major outreach and invited a powerful inner city church planter with 20+ years of experience to be the main speaker. After one of the meetings he met with an old girl friend and eventually ended up divorcing his wife, leaving his kids, and quitting his church just to be with her.
Despite the church’s best preventative measures, leaders still can find a way to sin and hurt others. Also, leaders can hurt their sheep with manipulation, legalism, and greed. Other times leaders, like any other boss, can be rude and abusive to their staff and congregation and cause great psychological harm.
The solution to hurtful leadership is God’s healing touch of love and restoration, 1 John 3:1, 4:7-10. At the same time, God also uses other leaders in great churches to help heal the hurts and soothe the pain. If you have been hurt by leadership in the church consider the following, (1) Forgive them, (2) Speak to other leaders about your hurts- it may be apart of something bigger that needs to be dealt with, (3) Prayerfully decide if you can effectively stay and work in the church or need to be with another church, and (4) Always treat others as you would want to be treated. Leaders, like yourself, can and should be restored if they take the proper steps.
Do you have hurt or bitterness in your heart towards church leadership? If so, pray this out loud, “Father, help me to forgive and love as much of the church as you do. Amen.”
- Repent if have allowed your hurt feelings to be an offense against the church of Jesus Christ. In other words, do not allow what some bad leaders did to cause you to reject the entire Body of Christ and gathering together with godly leaders.
- Pray and ask God to help you discern the difference between being oversensitive towards leadership (every little thing bothers you) and genuine hurt.
- Forgive the leaders who have really sinned against you and find a loving church to work with to fulfill the great commission!