Christian leaders all over the world today are under severe surveillance and under attack for various moral reasons, leading to public scandals and loss of trust from family, friends and church members.
Why are these untoward incidents happenings? Many of these scandals are God’s way of exposing some who are hypocrites, while certain others are fabricated lies of the devil who tries to malign the character of the minister and cause people to lose value of his message. Still others are due to some foolish and carefree actions or behavior of these men of God, which is further misunderstood by people. In this post, I seek to address the third category.
While I write this post, please note that I am no perfect person either. I have people talking bad about me even today because of some foolish decisions or actions I have made. The fact that I have a clear heart did not stop them from talking. And what made there talking matter is the fact that i represent Jesus, so the people talking against me are in fact talking against Jesus!
As long as you have a genuine ministry, there will always be people talking bad about your ministry or you in an attempt to de-motivate you, manipulate or control your behavior.
Interestingly, Jesus was one of the most criticized Man of his time. And by the people who claimed to be the most religious. Jesus was accused of being a false teacher and a false prophet and a blasphemer. But if you re-look at that list, not once will you find him getting accused of being a womanizer! Never once was he accused of misusing money. Never once was he looked down upon because of his character. (Please note that I am not judging those who had a character fault, the enemy can go to any extent to destroy a man of God)
There are certain things in your ministry for which you should never seek the opinion of man. For example, the message you preach or the place you minister at. Your calling in the church has to be decided by none but God. However, when it comes to other things of social and cultural relevance you definitely need to have a clear conscience before God as well as have an acceptance among the people or culture you represent or minister to.
Many a times we take our motivation from other leaders (worldly or spiritual) that we see around us and also from the world’s culture around us. We live in a world where nobody cares what others think and say about them. Our attitudes generally are “I know what I am doing is right and hence don’t need anyone else’s opinion.”
I can write this from my personal experience that many a times such attitude stems from rebellion more than faith or obedience to God. And whenever the motivation for our action is rebellion and disrespect towards leaders/elders/family/culture/society, the action, however good or genuine it might be, ends up portraying an ungodly and completely unacceptable character.
I agree with Apostle Paul’s advice that we cannot be people pleasers and be servants of God at the same time (Gal 1:10). However when you rise to the position of a leader, you are definitely accountable to the people around you for so many reasons. Though you don’t have to do things to please them, you definitely need to keep up a good reputation before them so as to be able to minister to them.
Paul in his letter to Timothy, says an elder/leader’s life should be above reproach and must have a good reputation to the extent that even the people outside the church must have a good opinion about them. (1 Timothy 3:2, 7) Further on, Paul writes “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thess 5:22 KJV) It is not enough that we stay away from evil but even from the appearance of evil!
If you are a leader, please take a paper and write down everything that people have been talking about or blaming you for, till date. From that list, how many of those still exist that opens the door for people to blame you? What do you plan to do about it?