7 Ways We Assassinate A Leader’s Character
I was deeply grieved when I saw that a group of US Congressmen was shot at. But sometimes people think the best way for change is to get rid of their leaders. Who will want to lead a nation that assassinates its leaders? While we all see this act as violent and severe, many people fail to realize the less violent but equally severe ways in which they take “shots” at their leaders. The following list applies to more than ministry leaders but also applies to how we treat our government officials, our boss at work or even our spouse at home.
The Christian standard is a culture of honor. But instead, everywhere I travel in the world, I meet leaders who have been wounded by their own followers. Often those who mistreat leaders feel their actions and words are necessary. And leaders do certainly make mistakes that tempt us to respond in these ways. But there are honoring ways to handle our disappointment and disagreements instead of these seven:
- We slander them
It only takes one person to defame a leader and sideline him or her. I don’t need to provide a proof test to state that slander of anyone is wrong. But the devil constantly works to erode trust within a leader’s sphere and finds plenty of help from those willing to slander. Because of the amount of criticism from the church, some pastors leave ministry and never return. Others serve faithfully anyway but carry wounds that heal slowly because the criticism never stops.
- We won’t serve them
Paul said that he only had one man he could send to Philippi because all the rest look after their own interests, not those of Christ. (Phil. 2:21) That’s a sad statement to hear from a man who was just trying to extend the Kingdom.
- We Desert Them
We tend to throw leaders away and desert them once we feel we can’t get anything from them. I have seen leaders who have laid down their lives for others only to see people discard them quickly. Paul experienced this in 2 Tim. 4:10 when Demas deserted him but also he said in 2 Tim. 1:5 that everyone in Asia turned away from him. And Paul was a good leader!
- We Bite Them
This sounds funny, but it happens. Pastors often compare their stories about “sheep bite”, but the long-term effect of this is not only wounded pastors but a general lack of healthiness in the culture of Christianity. As Paul warns in Galatians 5:15 “If you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”
- We accuse them
The Devil is the accuser of the Brethren, yet he gets plenty of help from us. Leaders make a lot of mistakes. But we must be careful not to dishonor them by focusing mainly on their mistakes. The Bible warns us to never receive an accusation against an Elder without two or three witnesses (1 Tim.5:19). Yes, we must hold them accountable, but we must be very careful. Once trust is eroded it takes a leader years to restore it.
- We Dishonor Them
Leading people is hard enough without enduring passive aggressive resistance. Hebrews 13:17 says “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” So, be sure that your leader finds joy in caring for you.
- We Make Unrealistic Demands of them
I remember telling our church years ago that “I am not Jesus Christ.” I don’t think anyone was surprised. Yet living in a glass house, with the expectations of many people and the tensions of a huge family of disagreeable children can be overwhelming for leaders. They are lightning rods for the tension and find it hard not to internalize it. Leaders are humans with a tough job. Don’t forget that Jesus is your Good Shepherd and your Father in Heaven is your source of all you need. And the Holy Spirit is your guide and comforter. Leaders can help, but only a little.
If you are guilty of one of these (hey, we all are), why not spend some time today praying for that leader. If you have personally been treated this way, remember that healing of the hurt comes through forgiveness. And don’t forget that Jesus was persecuted and warned us that we would experience the same. But if we allow Him, he bears our pain for us on the cross.