They have been asked to give their lives to serve God. They have answered the call. They will lead others to follow Christ. They will preach sermons. They will lead board meetings. They will pray with those in need. They will counsel people at their lowest moments. They will serve others in ways no one knows.
They work many hours that no one sees. They are on call at all hours of the day and night. They conduct funerals and officiate at weddings. They are a part of the saddest and happiest moments of others’ lives.
Their life and that of their family is on full display to be approved or criticized, as others see fit. They’re expected to have perfect marriages and well-behaved children. It’s assumed that they handle their personal lives and finances without flaw.
They are unlicensed counselors who hear the most private life situations for a family or marriage in crisis. Everything they hear in counseling sessions must be kept private. They are expected to keep all conversations confidential.
They are human. They make mistakes. They do not live perfect lives. And when their lives are falling apart. When their marriage is hanging by a thread. When their child is the one who’s gone astray. Who do they call? Who do they trust to keep their messy lives out of the news? Who do they call in the middle of the night when hope seems lost?
When they have a moment of panic. When they have an unconfessed sin. When they have a hidden addiction. When they have a raw diagnosis. When they need wise counsel. Who do they have on speed dial? Who can they trust with their darkest moments?
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. Hebrews 13:17
We expect them to know the Bible inside and out. Can they quote just the right Scripture when we need it? Can they give the most godly advice at the right time? If their sermon doesn’t hold your attention or if it rubs you the wrong way, do you stop attending church? Do you demand they run the church your way or else?
We must hope and pray that they are following God’s leading. We must trust that their relationship with God is their top priority. Above all else, they must lead the church as God leads them. Sure. They’re human. They mess up. Unless there’s evidence of wrongdoing on their part, we must trust that they are allowing God to guide them.
The thing is. We’re all called. We’re all human. But we hold them to a higher standard. They’re human, too. They make mistakes. They mess up. They’re working on their salvation one day at a time. Just like everyone else.
Some are called to be shepherds. Some are administrators. Some are strategic thinkers and planners. Some are prayer warriors. Others are eloquent speakers. Still others offer solid teaching. And some offer wise counsel. But all are called. All are gifted. All are flawed.
What if we spent time praying for them each day. What if we spent time getting to know them. Getting to know their heart as they follow God. Getting to know their strengths and weaknesses. What if we truly trusted them to lead the church as God is leading them. What if we trusted them?
Let’s show them grace. and trust. and offer forgiveness. Let’s hold them accountable. But let’s let them lead. God will hold them accountable for their lives and their leadership. Let’s trust God.