8. Church members fail their leaders when they murmur.
“Murmur” is not a word we use a lot today, but it sure does show up often in the wonderful old King James Bible. When Moses was leading Israel from Egypt to Canaan, murmuring was the pastime of choice of the Israelites. It means, of course, simply to gripe, to complain, to criticize.
The word murmur came about from the sound a group of people make when they stand around grumbling. “Mumble, mumble, gripe, complain, grumble.”
Just after Israel crossed the Red Sea, having experienced one of the greatest miracles ever recorded, we read: They came to Marah but could not drink the water because it was bitter. So the people grumbled (murmured) to Moses (Exodus 15:23-24).
Next chapter, The entire community grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. (16:2)
Moses said to the people on that occasion, “The Lord has heard your complaints about Him.” (16:7) I can just hear the people saying, “Oh no. We aren’t complaining about God. This is just between us and you, preacher.” But no, it doesn’t work that way.
Moses said, “Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord.” (16:8)
Now, I’ve been down this road a few times. Nothing so infuriates some self-important church leaders as to suggest that their criticism of the preacher is actually rebellion against God. I’ve heard it all. “Who does he think he is? He’s not Moses lately arrived from Sinai with golden plates!” No, he isn’t. And I’ll tell you something else.
The godlier he is, the less he plays this trump card.
The more worldly he is, the more likely he is to do his Moses imitation and assert that he is God’s man and you are standing in the way of the Almighty.
But this is about you, church member. You will stand before the Lord some day. Better to be safe and to have been faithful and supportive of those sent by the Lord as your shepherds and overseers (see Acts 20:28) than to have made their lives miserable by your incessant carping.
9. Church members fail their pastors when they do not deal with their anger toward some minister.
Not all pastors are worthy of the name. Some are bums who need to be ridden out of town immediately after the tar-and-feather ceremony.
And just in case you the reader of this were victimized by such a charlatan who called himself a pastor and you are carrying what you conceive of as anger-with-good-reason, may I suggest you deal with it and move forward.
Do not park by your anger, friend. Ill will and resentment will eat your insides out and destroy you, no matter how justified you were in harboring such feelings.
I pastored one church that was still in a delayed recovery from a split. Members with ill feelings toward others who had mistreated them during the church fight were constant sources of pain and dissension in the congregation. Their resentment was like a toxic poison in the soul that seeped up and contaminated everything they touched. These people could turn a love fest into a free-for-all. In business meetings, their contributions to discussion were barbed and acidic. Their countenance reflected the poison they were nursing.
Nothing about that was fun. Only those who repented and gave the anger up to the Lord were healed. The others went to their graves clutching their anger like a treasured heirloom that they refused to give up.
10. Church members fail their ministers when they are not faithful to the Lord.
Nothing blesses a pastor like church members who love the Lord Jesus and find great pleasure in obeying and worshiping Him.
This person does not need a second and third reminder to love those about him, to pray for his leaders, to serve and submit and give and forgive. The Spirit of Christ within a faithful disciple automatically surges in those directions.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18). That is the best recipe on the planet for church harmony and health.
Footnote: In his comments on Facebook, Pastor James Cook mentioned another way church members sometimes fail their ministers that we’ve not dealt with here. He said, “The members know I like fried chicken, and they bring the baked instead. Then, they hassle me when I go back for an extra helping of banana pudding.”
We all have our troubles, Brother James. You’ll just have to learn to cope.