I just don’t respect them.
Question: What can I do? I don’t respect the leaders of my church!
There are a lot of possible reasons for not respecting your spiritual leaders. You may be seeing their failings, their blind spots, or their lack of leadership. They may have sinned against you or made a decision you don’t agree with. Whatever the reason it can be a struggle to maintain respect for them. You may be familiar with this verse in Hebrews:
“Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” (Hebrews 13:17, NLT)
You want to follow Scripture and do what is right. So, what can you do when a spiritual leader seems to have done something that diminishes your respect for them? Maybe you feel that they didn’t watch over your soul. I encourage you to walk the Path of a Peacemaker and apply these principles.
The Path of a Peacemaker: Set your mind on things above.
We have all lost the respect of others at times, and your pastor or spiritual leader is no exception. A verse that has continually helped me over the years is in Paul’s letter to the Colossian believers. He encourages them to focus on the things of God:
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God”. (Colossians 3:1-3, NLT)
The Path of a Peacemaker: Begin to pray for your leaders.
Sometimes we think stuffing our feelings will help butthat will only cause you to grow resentful and it can even lead to bitterness. We may also want to talk to others about why we’ve lost respect. That is rarely helpful and can actually deepen the problem. The best response is to pray about the situation and begin to intercede specifically for those in leadership over us.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4, NLT)
The Path of a Peacemaker: Connect with your leaders.
Reach out with a humble attitude to connect with your leaders. And here is the key: don’t do it to try to change them, because that is God’s job. Connect with them to get to know them better, try to understand their stories. Ask great questions. Begin to learn how they think. I’ve been in church leadership for 20+ years and I’ve always appreciated people who cared about me first, then reached out to share their insights. That was a more effective way for them to try to persuade me about their point of view.
Our human reaction to someone we don’t respect is to withdraw. However God’s response when we don’t deserve respect is to draw us closer.
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, NLT)
I know it’s uncomfortable when distance grows between a believer and a leader, but instead of just doing nothing, switching churches, or gossiping, let’s respond productively. Let’s look up, look in, and step out.
Give us a call at 1-800-711-7118 x701 if we can be of any help.
P. Brian Noble