“…according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal…” (2 Timothy 2:9)
Pot-stirring: To take a stand on a controversial issue. Known colloquially as “opening a can of worms.” Rocking the boat. Rubbing the old cat’s fur the wrong way. Upsetting apple carts.
It’s a poor pastor who doesn’t stir the pot from time to time.
They didn’t crucify Jesus for sweet-talking the 23rd Psalm, for explaining the symbolic meaning of items in the Tabernacle, or for spending six months on the Greek verbs. He took a stand on what matters most, and when people didn’t like it, He held His ground and paid the ultimate price.
I remind pastors if they’re in this line of work for job security, they might want to think again. Right after reading Matthew 10, beginning at verse 16.
- Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to their courts, and scourge you in their synagogues.
- Brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child.
- You will be hated by all on account of My name.
- If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household.
- Do not think that I am come to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
- He who loses his life for My sake shall find it.
All over the globe, pastors and other sold-out Christ-followers daily demonstrate the reality of those words. It is to our everlasting shame that we in the 21st century American church expect our pastors to play it safe, to avoid controversy, to keep silent on matters which could offend.
God, help Your church.
If your pastor is taking a stand on an unpopular issue—and in the minds of some, taking the wrong side—but he backs it up with a solid interpretation of God’s word, then congratulations. You have a courageous leader.
Give thanks for such a fearless shepherd.
Now, support him.
Speak up for him. I assure you that some in the congregation and the community are upset. Your silence when they rant will be interpreted by them as approval of their position. Do not be silent. Speak up. “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light” (Matthew 10:27).
Teach the people. Remind the congregation that the pastor is God’s messenger and not “our employee.” He is not sent to find the lowest common denominator of convictions and opinions and parrot them. He is not sent to tickle ears and spout platitudes. Even if doing so would guarantee continued employment and periodic raises.
He is sent to preach the Word, to shepherd God’s flock, to oversee the church, and to disciple the people of God.
It’s a rare church that will give the pastor the freedom of the pulpit to preach the word fearlessly.
Church leader, make your church the exception.
A friend with a half-century in the Lord’s vineyard texted to say, “If you want to be ostracized, lead undocumented people to the Lord. Work with the poor, those who are obviously poor because everyone at church knows they are too lazy to hold a job. Then, dare to question something the president said or what he tweeted.”
God’s people can be so harsh, particularly toward those on the cutting edge.
The time will come, said the Apostle, when the people in the pew will not endure sound doctrine. They will want to hear what pleases them and will support the teachers/pastors who give them what they want. They will not be able to abide by the truth, but will fall in love with myths and stories and pleasantries.
Do not play that game. Tell them the truth. Endure hardship. Do your work. Fulfill your ministry. (Recognize 2 Timothy 4?)
Pastor, you be the exception.
“Though none go with me, I still will follow.”
They said to Evangelist Billy Sunday, “You’re stirring up opposition and the city fathers don’t like it. We depend on these people for our support. You’re rubbing the cat’s fur the wrong way.”
Sunday said, “The old cat’s going to hell! Let him turn around!”
Someone had better rub the cat’s fur the wrong way. Stir the pot. Rock the boat. Open this can of worms.
Quit playing it safe, preacher. You will stand before the Lord someday and give account. Make sure you have preached the whole word and not just “fun with the Greek verbs,” the sweetness of the 23rd Psalm, and the riches of your pet verses.