There are those who feel a minister has the authority to confront and correct you about any and all aspects of your life, even things quite personal. Others feel they have no right to correct anyone about anything. Many of us have heard stories that we cannot correct those in leadership, particularly ministers, but must leave any correction to God. ‘Touch not mine anointed‘ is used to place fear in people regarding the latter.
There is also the aspect of how correction should be made. Are we to openly rebuke people in front of the church for any and all matters? Do you have a right to face your accusers? Should someone in leadership just accept the word of one person? Do we have any recourse if we feel the correction is unwarranted or carried out in an inappropriate manner?
The Bible does give believers some guidelines concerning this. But how does it compare to what we were taught and what we may have personally experienced in an unhealthy church? This article is shared not to be an in depth look at all the above issues, but rather an overall look at leadership.
Many of us were on the receiving end or at least witnessed it. Let’s look at how the Bible describes how leadership is to be and not allow ourselves to be put in that position again.
I recall my former pastor telling of an incident which happened in his church prior to my becoming a member. He felt there was division and he sat at the front of the church and had each member parade by him and say whether or not they’d been speaking negatively about him. (He based this on an Old Testament incident.)
I have it recorded on tape where he brought it up in a sermon (during my time there he mentioned this event several times). He ‘corrected’ the people in front of all. After this incident, the church experienced a split. I wonder why?
Ministers are not to police people. The Bible teaches against this. Remember when the disciples were discussing among themselves which of them would be the greatest? Jesus told them that the greatest must be the last of all, and a servant of all. (Mark 9:35)
In Matthew 20 it describes how the mother of John and James went to Jesus with a request that each of her sons sit at the side of Jesus in his kingdom. Of course, this didn’t sit well with the other 10 apostles. But Jesus called them together and explained in verses 25- 28 (emphasis mine):
…Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. BUT IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU: but whosoever will be great among you, LET HIM BE YOUR MINISTER. And whosoever will be chief among you, LET HIM BE YOUR SERVANT: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
If a pastor does not have the heart of a servant and a minister, then they should step down. I Peter 5:2-3 shows this: “FEED the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly: not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind: NEITHER AS BEING LORDS over God’s heritage, but BEING ENSAMPLES to the flock.” (One of my KJV Bibles notes that ‘lords’ means ‘overruling’.)
Ministers should teach by example. Time and time again this is taught in the scriptures. Be an example, lead by example. Follow me as I follow Christ. They are to bring the things of God to our remembrance (I Timothy 4:6, II Timothy 2:14).
They are to:
..not strive, BUT BE GENTLE unto all men, apt to teach, PATIENT, IN MEEKNESS instructing those that oppose themselves…” II Timothy 2:24-25 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke (Note: as in Titus 2:15), exhort WITH ALL LONGSUFFERING and doctrine. II Timothy 4:2
These are just a handful of the verses which teach how someone in leadership in the church is to conduct themselves. Just from these, it is clear that actions such as many of us experienced are not biblical. They were not acting out of love or with gentleness, nor were they long-suffering.
ANY correction, whether in front of all or one on one, should always be done in love. Without love, we are nothing, only a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal (I Cor. 13:1-2). All is to be done to edify, build up, strengthen, and encourage. Not to tear down.
Let’s compare what we have seen in unhealthy churches to how God corrects us for OUR benefit. It is always to build us up, to strengthen us, to help us, to edify us. It always is a positive thing. However, man’s correction is often not for our benefit, but THEIRS.
Look in Hebrews chapter 12. Verses 9-11 says:
Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave then reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily chastened us AFTER THEIR OWN PLEASURE; but he for OUR PROFIT, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Much of God’s correction of believers today is one on one (with God, that is). Correction from God is for OUR benefit and any correction that is not benefiting us, but rather tearing us down, is from man and not inspired by God.