A story came to mind tonight. I think it cane out of Revival In Indonesia, but cannot check it as it was one of several hundred books that I had to say goodbye to, after my lung condition was diagnosed. If I remember the story with any accuracy, it was about an old minister who heard himself being described in mocking terms as “the old dry stick.” He was cut to the heart, but in pain and humility sought the Lord. The Lord met with Him and now the rumour started to spread, “The old dry stick has caught fire.”
Are you criticising local church leadership? In evangelical or charismatic church settings it can, sadly, be quite common. It is as though if someone has a very definite story of meeting with the Lord in salvation or empowering, that somehow causes them to doubt the minister or the leadership or others in the church as a whole, have had as real an experience, or know the Lord as they know Him. Talk from such a spirit, usually gets back to those being talked about, and it can be hurtful.
It all contrasts so deeply with another memory this evening of someone converted in the Lewis revival of 49-52. I have met them several times. I have never met someone who carries more of God. To be in her presence has always made me cry. I would sometimes cry when I didn’t even know she was around! The presence of God would be sweet and beautiful to the point of unbearable. On each occasion, I turned around…and there was this lady! The first time I met her in her home, she was terribly embarrassed when I asked her to pray with and for me. “How can I pray for you, a man of God?” Well, she saw my disappointment and relented! I cannot begin to tell you how I treasured that simple non showy prayer, in all its glorious ordinariness!
There is a false humility, the sort of “Holy Willie” type of thing, and there is a true humility. This was true unforced humility. Meeting with God in spirit and in truth will always result in thinking others as better than ourselves, and to honour them accordingly. Even areas of actual giftedness or even expertise, if there is such a thing in spiritual life, will not prevent you from considering everyone you meet as better than yourself. This dear lady held those who lead God’s people in high regard.
What about praying for leadership instead of criticising from a place of frustration, or from a place of thinking you know the Lord His Spirit and His Word, better than those for whom God has opened the door of leadership? Listen, you may well know the Lord better than your minister, your church leadership, but if you do you will never think or feel that you do, or express to others in subtle or blatant ways that you do….nor think it privately and smugly!
…and if you are leader who humbly believes you are a dry stick, remember how bright a dry stick can burn….God bless you…real good! You have my highest admiration, even though I may not know you or ever meet you. Leading is not easy…
The first thing I noticed when I began attending a traditional denominational church in York in 1977, was a great deal of criticism directed at the Rector.
Many of us (most?) have been in the place of immaturity that creates reactions against what we perceive as hurt by a leader, and that hurt has expressed itself in pouring out the pain to friends.
‘Oh what peace we often forfeit…’ as the hymn goes: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/789
True leaders (like our good shepherd, Jesus) need our prayers no matter the weaknesses they might display or the pain they may have inadvertently brought.
Their faithfulness and dependence on the Lord usually is brighter, stronger and deeper.
Treat them with grace and mercy.