I recently had the opportunity to lead an all day pastors gathering where I was asked to speak on ‘Ten Practices of Highly Effective Pastoral Leaders’. Quite a weighty topic! Who can choose only ten practices? It would be easier to list 50!
While I debated what to include in the top ten – one point which was a no brainer was this – “Do not allow antagonists to set the church agenda.”
Antagonists are everywhere. They appear at the little league baseball game, the school board meeting, the neighborhood association meeting – and the local church. Antagonists are by nature – living discontented lives. They are, for the most part, seldom happy. As my friend HB London says, they are joy suckers, draining everyone in sight.
One of my favorite passages in scripture is Nehemiah 3:6. It reads,
Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Gate of Yeshanah. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars.
Isn’t that an amazing passage! Read it again to get the full impact. Okay, maybe it’s not the most powerful verse. But, the passage is one of my favorites not for what is says – but for what it doesn’t say. The previous verse reads:
And next to them the Tekoites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord.
Here’s the story – Nehemiah is leading the Israelites in the enormous task of rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem. By the grace of God, they will accomplish this monumental task in a mere 52 days. A brilliant manager, Nehemiah breaks down an overwhelming task into forty-one smaller projects, assigning teams to each section of the wall. The section of the wall from the Fish Gate to the Old City Gate was to be repaired by Tekoite team. Nehemiah 3:5 tells us that while several members of the Tekoite team worked to repair the wall, the ranking Tekoite leaders refused to work.
How many problems would be solved in the church today if pastors did not allow antagonists to set the church agenda?
The principle of the passage is simply this – there will always be those who refuse to carry a share of the load. There will always be those who oppose progress. Antagonists are nothing new. Yet, Nehemiah did not allow his agenda to be determined by the antagonists. We don’t see Nehemiah convening a special committee to explore solutions to the ‘Tekoite leaders’ problem’. Verse 6 does not read, “And so Nehemiah went to the leaders and said, ‘Please, please tell me what I have done to offend you.’”
By saying nothing, Nehemiah essentially says (my interpretation), “The Lord has a plan for Jerusalem and I will not allow that plan to be derailed by lazy, too-good-to-work aristocrats. I will not focus on those who are unwilling to serve. I won’t lose sleep, get bitter or waste any of my time trying to corral them. I will not be deterred by antagonists.”
How many problems would be solved in the church today if pastors did not allow antagonists to set the church agenda? Remember, no amount of time anyone spends volunteering at the church, no amount of money anyone gives to the church and no amount of influence anyone carries in the community earns them the right to be an antagonist in the church.
At PastorServe, our passion is to help pastors listen to the Holy Spirit rather than antagonists. Our mission is to provide relationships and resources that will allow every Pastor in America to have access to equipping and care for the challenges and crises they face.