Robert Jeffress - How To Treat Your Next Pastor - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. We most often see our pastors delivering sermons on Sunday mornings. But as the leader of the congregation at First Baptist Church in Dallas, my responsibilities go far beyond just preaching. The same is true of the pastor in your local church. And today we're going to see what the writer of Hebrews says about a pastors role and how congregation should respond to their leaders authority. My message is titled, "How To Treat Your Next Pastor" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
In Jesus' day, the abusive spiritual leaders were called the pharisees. And they were a group of Jewish leaders who place 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 chapter 15. Jesus' harshest criticisms were not leveled against adulterers, murderers, thieves. It was against hypocritical religious leaders. Look at chapter 15, verses one to 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 it 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 are upset. Jesus couldn't have cared less. Notice what he said in 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 under the pit". Ain't that interesting? He didn't say, get rid of the pharisees, vote him 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 deny those basics, I'm not talking about, there's the tribulation and the rapture, it'll 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 as 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 in a 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. Go find a church, go find a pastor that you respect and whose authority you can follow. That's the way you deal with leaders that you don't agree with. But the vast majority of pastors out there today, are not bad pastors, they're doing the best they can to take care of you to watch over your soul.
So let's talk about how we do respond to pastors and spiritual leaders in the church. Going back to verse 17 of Hebrews 13. We've talked about the difficulty of this command. Let's talk about the meaning of this command. "Obey your leaders, 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". To unpack the truth of this verse, I wanna answer three questions that arise from this passage. First of all, who? Exactly who are we to follow? I mean, that's an important question. I mean, after all, there are a lot of spiritual leaders out there. You got your Sunday school teacher, you've got your Bible study fellowship leader, you got the deacons, you've got staff members, you got all these people out there. Exactly who is in mind here, that we're supposed to follow? What's very clear, verse 17. "Obey your leaders and submit to them: for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account".
The words, watch over. That phrase comes from two Greek words, search and sleep. Your a leader that he's talking about here, is the one who searches for sleep, he's losing sleep over the condition of your soul. Because he knows he will give an account. There's only one person that's true of, and it's the pastor of your church. As we'll see in just a moment in 1 Peter five, Jesus is the chief shepherd of this church. But he has temporarily left earth, and he's left the care of this flock under the care of the under shepherd. And one day the pastor of this church, whoever it is will give an account to God for how he has led this congregation. This is a reference here to the pastor, the one who watches out for your soul.
Now, turn over to 1 Peter 5:1-4, where Peter explains this even more. I'm gonna give you about a three minute lesson here from 1 Peter five about church government. 'cause there's a lot of questions today about how a church is supposed to be organized. And you're confused about pastors and elders and deacons. Well, this clears it up real clearly for you. 1 Peter 5,:1-4. "Therefore Peter said, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed". Peter said, "I'm an elder writing to fellow elders". That Greek word elder is presbyteros. It refers to the dignity of the pastoral office. I exhort the elders among you, verse two, "Shepherd the flock of God among you," there's the second word that describes the pastor. It's the word poimen in Greek, literally the shepherd.
The pastor is one who has an office of dignity, he's the elder. He is to shepherd the flock of God, that means to protect, to feed the flock of God. He's the pastor. And then the third phrase, exercising oversight. The pastor is not only an elder and a shepherd, he's the overseer. There's a similar Greek word used in 1 Timothy three, episcopos, ruler, the bishop over the church. There are not three offices in the church. There's not pastors and elders and deacons. There's only two offices. There is the office of the pastor, who is the same as the elder, who's the same as the ruler of the church. And there are the deacons. In 1 Timothy three, Paul addresses the qualifications for overseers and deacons. He does the same in Philippians one when he talks about the pastors, the oversees and the deacons. There are two offices, and the one who has charge over the spiritual wellbeing of the congregation is the pastor. That is so clear here. We have a pastor.
Now, some of you say, well pastor, are you saying you're the elder? Yes. Yes, that's what the Bible says. I'm the overseer, I'm the shepherd of the congregation. Well, doesn't the Bible talk about multiple elders? Well, if the flock gets too big, yes, we need multiple elders and we have multiple elders. I'm not the only elder, I'm the chief elder, but I'm not the only elder at first Baptist, Dallas. But it's all an extension of the office of pastor. We even break it down further than that. With a church of 14.000, there's no way we could hire enough elders, pastors to oversee everybody. And so we've divided the responsibility even further.
Do you remember in Exodus 18, when Moses was complaining that it was too much to watch over his flock? Jethro, his father-in-law said, "Break them down into manageable units". And that's what we've done here. We're into Sunday school departments, we've got Sunday school directors. We've got Sunday school teachers. There's Doug Brady over there, he's feeding his flock that God has put under his charge. We've got everybody under somebody's spiritual care in the church. But primarily here, he's talking about the pastor, and those who assist him in his role as shepherd. Now secondly, the question of what? What are we supposed to do in relationship to that spiritual authority God has placed over us? It says we are to submit, literally that word means to quit resisting, to yield and quit resisting. Don't resist their leadership in your lives.
Now folks, this is important. Inherent here is the qualification, the areas of your life over which they're responsible. There's some pastors who abused this. I mean, they wanna try to control their people and everything they do. If you come up to me and you say, pastor, I'm thinking about buying a home, do you have any advice for me? I'm not going to give you advice on what home to buy. I'm not gonna say, well, God told me to tell you you're only supposed to buy a 3000 square foot home. That's not any of my business, that's not my area of authority. Even certain things in the church are really not up to me.
Just imagine that I go into one of our planning and development committee meetings, and they're having a meeting on the Horner family expansion, that by the way we've completed, we'll be in there in January. But let's just say they're having a meeting, and they're discussing what kind of electrical wiring to have. And I crash the meeting and I say, I know you all are talking about electrical wiring and God has told me that you need to use this grade, this quality of wiring in the building. Boy, the chairman Mark Lovvorn would look at me like I'd lost my mind. What are you doing talking about that? That's not your area of expertise.
I know pastors who actually try to control where the money of the church, the funds of the church are invested. We don't do that, that's not my responsibility. We have deacons and staff to oversee all of those things. There are some areas I should have no authority in. But there are other things that are under my purview. You won't believe this, but did you know I get regular emails from people telling me how I ought to conduct the invitation at the end of the service. What I already include in the prayer of salvation. And my response to that, when somebody tries to do that, my response is, it's none of your beeswax. It's a Greek word, beeswax, you probably didn't know that. No, I don't respond that way, but that's what I think. I mean, that's not your area of expertise. The pastor has authority in the areas that God has designated to him.
One more example. Part of the role of the pastor, the authority he has is to correct members who are in sin. If there is somebody in the church who is living an immoral lifestyle, that is hurting the reputation of Christ and the church, the pastor is supposed to correct that. If there is somebody who's causing disunity in the church, the pastor has to address that. And a church our size, I've designated that responsibility to elder Alan Lynch. He's in charge of correction. If Alan calls you up and wants to talk to you, it's usually not good news, okay? No, he has a lot of good news too but that's part of our responsibility. If I or a staff member talks to you about something that is wrong, the Bible says don't resist, don't rebel, don't argue, yield to that correction, because it's for your benefit, not for our benefit.
We're watching over your soul. We're trying to help you in your relationship with God. That's what we're supposed to do. We're supposed to submit, not resist in those areas that we've been given responsibility for, why? Why should we respond this way? We'll look again at verse 17. "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". The reason you're to yield to spiritual authority is because they're not trying to help themselves, they're trying to help you. And when you resist, it may make life miserable for your leader, but it's even worse for you.
I came across this story from Chuck Swindoll when he was a staff member at another church. This was interesting, he said, "I was having lunch with a friend one day. And during your conversation, during the conversation he asked if I could join him on a particular trip as a speaker with his organization". Chuck said, "I replied that I would be delighted to do that, but first I would have to check with my spiritual leader to ask his opinion of the organization I would be associating with". Well, this opened up a Pandora's box. My friend expressed a no uncertain terms, his disapproval at a grown man having to do that sort of thing. He pitied me, to him the idea of being in submission to anyone was unthinkable.
"So I asked him," Chuck said, "Who watches for your soul as those who must give an account? Who loves you and has your best interest at heart? Who prays for you and councilors you and objectively seeks God's best for you? Who does that for you"? The man said, "No one. No one". "Then don't pity me," Chuck said, "For being under the authority of another. You are the one to be pitied, not i. Those who watch out for my soul, are among the greatest heritage's in the world. I am to be envied, not pitied". Let me encourage those of you watching or listening to this message. If you don't have somebody watching out for your soul, get under the authority of the local church. In our away American individualistic society we think all we need is just me and my relationship with God, that's enough I don't need other people. No, we need one another. That's why God created the church.