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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - How To Treat Your Next Pastor - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - How To Treat Your Next Pastor - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - How To Treat Your Next Pastor - Part 1
TOPICS: Spiritual Fitness

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. From teaching style to operational management, every pastor has his own way of handling responsibilities in the church. And while some of those issues can be left up to personal preference, the Bible has some non-negotiable instruction regarding a pastor's role as the leader of a congregation. Today, we're going to talk about the God-given responsibility of spiritual leaders in the church. My message is titled, How To Treat Your Next Pastor, on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

I love the story about the pastor who was going to his first church and he was so excited about his future ministry. His first day in the office his predecessor dropped by to see him. The former pastor had left the church under a cloud of controversy, and he came by to encourage his successor. He said, "I want you to know I'm praying for you but if you run into difficulty and this is a tough church, if you run into difficulty, I've left three envelopes in the top desk drawer for you to use only if you need some encouragement". The new pastor thanked his predecessor, but assured himself that he would never need those envelopes. Well, he hadn't been there a week when he got accosted in the hallway by an irate Sunday school member who was furious over his Sunday school class being too warm.

And the new pastor was so discouraged, he didn't know he was going to have to deal with things like that. And so, he slithered back to his office and he pulled out that first envelope, envelope number one. And it said, "Be not fearful or dismayed, I am with you sayeth the Lord". That made him feel better. A few weeks later, he got a notice that the deacons were calling a special meeting to discuss the declining attendance on the church and they wanted him to answer for it. Well, this discouraged him again, and so, he remembered there was another envelope. He picked up envelope number two, opened it up and it said, "Behold I am with thee wherever thou goest". And that promise from the Lord encouraged his heart. About three months later, the church called a special business meeting to fire the pastor over declining finances, and he was at the bottom. But thankfully, he remembered there was a final envelope. He went to his desk drawer, opened it up, opened up envelope number three and it said, "Prepare three new envelopes".

You know, I thought of that story when I prepared this week's message. The title of it is, how to treat your next pastor. Now, this is not a farewell sermon, some of you are getting your hopes up. This is not a farewell sermon, I'm not going anywhere. But there's a reason that I titled this message the way I did and you'll see that in just a moment. Now I have to admit to you, I have not been looking forward to this final message in our series in Hebrews, I feel about it like I do about having a root canal, there's something else I'd rather be doing than preaching this passage because it is a difficult passage, especially for me to preach. One reason it's difficult is because, well, it's a sermon about me. It's about my responsibility to you here in the church, and it's also about your responsibility toward me in the spiritual leadership of the church, and that's always a touchy topic. And so, that's why I titled this sermon, how to treat your next pastor.

I want you to fast forward 20 years from now and imagine that I've gone and I'm up in heaven watching you, and you've called a new nameless, faceless pastor to you right now. Let's think about how to treat him rather than how to treat me. Because I mean, the fact is it's hard to separate principles from personalities. You know, the military has a saying, we salute the uniform, not the person in the uniform. Well, it's the same way in the role of pastor. I'm not asking you to salute, but we're talking about the role and the responsibility of the pastor.

The second reason, this is a particularly hard subject to address, is the potential abuse of the truth we're going to look at today. We all know pastors who have gone to the extreme of becoming dictators in the church. A lack of accountability has led them into immorality or they've overexercised their authority and led the church into financial ruin, and none of us wants that extreme. But some churches go to the opposite extreme, they treat their pastors as nothing more than hired hands to do their bidding, to keep the temperature right in the Sunday school class and all of those sorts of things. Neither extreme is biblical. Today, we're going to talk about what the role and the responsibility of spiritual leaders in the church is, and the context of this passage is all important.

Turn over if you would, to Hebrews 13. Remember, the writer made that pivot in chapter 12, he said, "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith". He said, "In difficult times", Hebrew Christians, "Don't give up your faith. Don't go back into Judaism. Keep running that race". And remember, last time we looked at two detours that will get you off track in your relationship with God. We talked about the detour of immorality, we talked about the detour of materialism. But now, the writer's going to give us some encouragement, he's going to say, "God has given you somebody to encourage you to stay on track in your relationship with God". And that's the spiritual leader in the church, his job is to encourage you to stay on track. And that's the theme of this passage we're going to look at.

Now when we come to Hebrews 13, the Bible is going to talk about two kinds of spiritual leaders we need to follow. First of all, he talks about leaders from the past, leaders from the past. Look at verse 7, our respect for past leaders. "Remember those who led you, who spoke the Word of God to you, and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith". That word remember, literally means bring to mind, call to mind those who have led you in the past, those leaders who have gone on to heaven. He's not saying take a stroll down memory lane just for the sake of old times sake. He's talking about, remember them, recall them, and imitate their faith.

You remember when we used to wear those bracelets from 20 years ago, everybody had them. WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? And the idea is, if you were in a difficult situation you would ask yourself the question, what would the Lord do in this situation? Well, the writer of Hebrews is saying, when you get in a difficult spot, ask yourself what would and insert the name of somebody who's led you in the past that you had respect for, a spiritual leader, a pastor, staff member, evangelist, somebody who impacted your life and imitate their faith.

Now, some people would say, "Well, I thought we're just fixing our eyes on Jesus, we're not supposed to look at other people, just imitate Jesus". Did you know that's exactly what the carnal Corinthian Christians, some of them were saying to Paul. Paul said, "There are divisions in your church. Some are saying, 'we follow Peter'. Others say, 'we follow Apollos'. And some of you are saying, 'we only follow Jesus'". That wasn't a commendation, that was a condemnation. He said, "You're refusing to follow the leaders God has placed upon you. Instead, you're just saying you follow Jesus". No, God says, yes we're to keep our eyes on Jesus, but we also need flesh and blood examples that we can look at to imitate their faith. And that's why Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, be imitators, literally be mimics of me even as I'm a mimic, an imitator of Jesus Christ.

We need leaders, certainly in our past that we can look up to and ask ourselves the question, when we get in a tight place, what would this leader have said to me? What was his counsel to me when he was alive and teaching? What would he do in this situation? I hope in your gallery of memories, there are past leaders who have made an impact upon you and your family that you can mimic, that you can imitate.

Years ago, I remember going in to say goodnight to our oldest daughter, Julia. She was about 10 at the time, and she was sitting up in bed reading a biography of Billy Graham. Even when she was a little girl, she was so interested in evangelism and sharing her faith. And she was reading this biography of Billy Graham, and so, I got to tell her about Billy Graham, and about the impact he had had on our family's life. And I told her the story about when my mother for whom Julia is named. In 1954, when she was pregnant with me that she went to the cotton bowl crusade here in Dallas. She wasn't a Christian, and under the preaching of Billy Graham, she became a Christian. And she ended up joining First Baptist Church Dallas, the same day that Billy Graham joined the church, for he was a member here for 54 years.

And I told her the story about how my mom and my dad passed that faith on to me and how Amy and I have passed it on to her. And then now to watch as an adult, how she and Ryan are passing that faith on to their children. On and on, it goes, all because of 70 years ago, a man who made a great investment and passed on his faith to us into so many others. I was thinking about that just this week as I prepared this message about remembering those who have impacted your life in the past. And as I was writing these thoughts down, out of the blue I got a letter from a man named David Bruce. David Bruce for years was the personal assistant to Billy Graham. He spent every day with Billy up until the day Dr. Graham went home to be with the Lord.

And David Bruce wrote me these words, he said, "I simply write to thank you for your faithful preaching and far reaching ministry through the pulpit of First Baptist Dallas. For Mr. Graham, there were welcome and sweet memories of your predecessor, Dr. Criswell, and of you, and the impact the church had on Mr. Graham's life and times. He fondly would say that he was half Texan and loved every minute of it. Recently, my travels took me to Dallas and I had a brief moment to pass by your church and to pray for you and the good folks of First Baptist Dallas. During the COVID sequestering in North Carolina, I was privileged to hear you preach Sunday after Sunday, and I'm so grateful for your biblical convictions of the strength of your Holy Spirit empowered proclamation. Praise God for your church's extensive ministry. Remember that there are those who love and appreciate the historic church in Dallas as well as your current ministry".

That was such an encouragement, to me it was kind of a circle of spiritual life. Here's a man 70 plus years ago who impacted my family and me and so many of you, and then to know that we had an impact on his life and we're Sharing that faith with people all over the world. Hopefully, you've got people in your life like that that you can look back to and thank God for. We're to respect our past leaders. Frankly, that's easier to do than when it comes to our current leaders. You know, somebody said, we tend to immortalize leaders of the past while treating our current leaders like faces on a dart board. Unfortunately, that's true in too many churches.

And that's why the writer of Hebrews talks about our responsibility to leaders in the present beginning with verse 17. He says, "Obey your leaders and submit to them for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you". I can sense some people are already tensing up. Obey your leaders, obey your leader, I mean, why in the world would I do that? Let's admit, there's a difficulty in this command for all of us. One reason, this is a difficult command, to obey is, we all have a natural resistance to obey in any kind of authority, that's in-bred.

1 Samuel 15:23 talks about rebellion, being liked for sin of witchcraft. We all resist to obey in other people, don't we? Children resist obeying their parents, wives find it difficult to submit to their husbands, men find it difficult to obey their employers or the government. We all find it difficult to obey other people. And yet, in 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul says all of us are under somebody's authority. Remember what Paul said? He said that the man is the head of the woman, that Christ is the head of every man, and God is the head of Christ. Even Jesus himself was under somebody's authority. God puts us all, every one of us, under somebody's authority.

First of all, it's the only way you maintain order in your home, in your business, in your church, in your country, is if there's a clear line of authority. The late great Adrian Rogers used to say, anything in nature with two heads is a freak and anything with no head is dead. There has to be a head of any organization to keep order. And I think God puts us not only under authority to maintain order but to also help us learn how to obey Christ. I mean, if we can't obey the human authority that we see every day, how in the world will we learn to be obedient to a God we have not seen?

So let's all admit there's a natural resistance to authority, but a second reason this is difficult is, the possible abuse of authority. I think every one of us here, could give an example of some leader we either have known personally or known of who has abused his place of authority, and especially in the church. There's some of you watching right now. You may have been in an abusive situation, for you were abused by a spiritual authority in the church and you said, "I'm never getting in that kind of situation again".

Well, let's admit, there are some bad leaders out there. And how do we handle leaders who abuse their place of spiritual leadership? Let's talk about that for just a moment. In Jesus' day, the abusive spiritual leaders were called the pharisees. And they were a group of Jewish leaders who placed their tradition above God's word. In fact, Jesus said they were hypocrites because they came up with regulations for other people that they themselves were unwilling to follow. And listen to what Jesus said about them in Matthew 15, hold your place here and go over to Matthew 15. Jesus' harshest criticisms were not leveled against adulterers, murderers, thieves, it was against hypocritical religious leaders.

Look at chapter 15:1-14. "Then some pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem, and they said, 'why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders for they do not wash their hands when they eat bread?'", this was pre-COVID. They weren't washing their hands when they eat bread. Now, that was their tradition. They were concerned that the disciples weren't following their traditions instead of the Word of God. And so, Jesus called them out on it. He said to them, "Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition"? And then he goes on and gives example after example of where the pharisees were placing their tradition above God's word. Now skip down to verse 12. "Then the disciples came and said to Jesus, 'do you know that the pharisees were offended when they heard this statement'"?

Ooh, the pharisees were upset, Jesus couldn't have cared less. Notice what he said at verse 13. "But Jesus answered and he said, 'every plant which my Heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. But you, let them alone'". Let them alone. "For they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit" ain't that interesting? He didn't say, "Get rid of the pharisees, vote them out of office", he said, "Leave them alone". They will self implode and they'll take everybody who's following them down with them, leave them alone. How do you handle a spiritual abusive leader? Now, listen to me. The Bible says there are two reasons to get rid of a leader, a pastor, two reasons.

Reason number one, if he preaches heresy. If I ever stand in this pulpit and deny the deity of Jesus Christ, the inspiration of the scripture, the blood atonement of Christ for our sins, the literal return of Jesus Christ. One day, if I ever denied those basics, I'm not talking about, you know, there's the tribulation and the rapture to come before or after the millennium. I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about basic Bible doctrine, the basics of the faith. If I ever deny those truths, you need to call a business meeting and fire me as your pastor. There's no place for that.

The second reason to get rid of a leader is immorality. 1 Timothy 5:19 talks about, not just an accusation against a pastor, but if you have proof on the basis of two or three eyewitnesses, you're to get rid of him, you're to get rid of him. But any other offense outside of that, what does Jesus say? Leave them alone, leave them alone, let God deal with it. I had a deacon who called me from another church and he's told me this story, he said he was not pleased with the pastor, the current pastor that they had. And some other deacons came to him and said, "We sense you're upset with those pastors". "We are, we want you to join us in removing the pastor from office". And this deacon said, "I told them, no". They were astonished, they said, "Well, why not"? He said, "If we uproot this pastor, we will also uproot the other members in the church who revere him and respect him, we can't do that".

Leave him alone and let God deal with it, that's what Jesus was saying here. If you try to uproot somebody that the father did not plant, it will hurt other people in the process as well. Now, I'm talking to some of you right now watching this message, you're in a church and you don't care for your pastor, you disagree with him, pray for him. If you need to go talk to him and share your concern and his spirit of love. And if you still can't resolve it, don't try to get rid of him, don't lead a rebellion, don't be guilty of disenchanting and disillusioning other Christians.
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