How “Above Reproach” Lay Elders Saved My Ministry

"As my offenses were enumerated, I felt my blood pressure skyrocket. My reflex was absolute defensiveness. But then I looked into the faces of these four or five men. I knew them. I knew their track records of humble, faithful, loving service in our church." - 9 Marks

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T Howard's picture

I'm not sure if my former church was uniquely "blessed" or not, but we seemed to experience a lot of issues at that church which covered the gamut of sin and dysfunction in pastoral leadership. Many of the experiences I relate here on Sharper Iron come from that church.

Anyway, while I served as a lay elder, we had a senior pastor who believed he had the "midas touch" when it came to pastoral ministry. He would frequently tell us and the people at our church, "In my previous ministries every thing I touched turned to gold."

Imagine the shock he experienced when he came to our church and people did not respond well to his "my way" leadership and his change management (or lack of it). Several congregants and even several elders spoke to him about what we perceived as pride, but he insisted he was a humble man without guile. Throughout his four years at our church, he rarely if ever acknowledged he did or said anything wrong in relational conflicts he was involved with. It was always the other person's fault or their lack of submission to his leadership that was the issue. BTW, he was one of the ACBC-certified biblical counselors at the church.

One of the elders on our elder board was his good friend, and he would almost always side with the pastor when these relational conflicts occurred. So, unfortunately, our elder board was never unified when these conflicts occurred to address this perceived pride issue.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Sadly it's not an uncommon problem, though maybe less common than it used to be in some circles.

The story in the article is, in my experience, unusual. Generally, either the senior pastor/head elder doesn't need this kind of confrontation or does need it and it doesn't happen, or he needs it and it does happen and he responds badly to it. So I found the story really encouraging. It would be hard to hear that kind of criticism and resist the self-defense/self-justification/victimhood urge that kicks in--for all of us.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

josh p's picture

I too found this encouraging. What a blessing to that church to have humble godly leaders. There would be a lot less church splits if more pastors/congregants were ready to admit pride.